Consulting vs Industry

Hey everyone,
I recently was chatting with a friend who signed with a FAANG-style tech firm in their corporate finance division (non-tech) and after we comparing our internship and projected FT comp (B4 consulting), I started doubting all of the consulting kool-aid that I had been drinking. After factoring in her tech firm's living stipend, his compensation blew mine out of the water, and the difference in our projected FT comp would be negligible-before accounting for her options, despite all the travel and extra hours consultants put in.
All of this to say-is consulting is really worth sacrificing the extra work-balance if you plan on exiting to an MBA or the corporate world anyway? I've always been told that a year in consulting is worth two in the industry, and the quality of exit options make the hit to work-life balance worth it. But wouldn't a high-performing industry analyst rise quickly within the firm as well, and have great MBA options as well, especially if you plan on staying in said industry and building directly relevant skills and connections?
I'd love to get some advice from you guys for FT recruitment since you guys have more concrete experiences and anecdotes. Obviously, being able to leap up to MBB would add more pros to the consulting side, but even then, the tradeoffs seem questionable. Being non-tech at a tech firm is a con.

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Comments (5)

Apr 27, 2019 - 1:29pm

A fair questions but it's pretty loaded as there are multiple things to consider here.

Firstly let's talk about the job itself. Compensation is an attractive metric (and key as hugs and kisses don't pay rent) but you also have to be satisfied with your job and your ability to grow in it. In B4s, consulting is a key offering. At FAANG, finance is an ancillary function almost considered MO/BO. The tech guys run the show and this may reflect in the job responsibilities you get inside the firm. Sure, some people like to sit in a corner, not be seen as an essential function to the firm they work at and collect their big monthly payslip. I don't think that enables personal growth.

FAANG is also an exception because these are firms doing exceptionally well who can shower their employees (even the CF guys) with cash. Entry level CF jobs in industries such as FMCG, pharmaceuticals, A&D or fashion will not pay as much. The entry CF guy at Google will make more than the same job at Kraft, so don't discard all of consulting and fall in love with all of CF.

If you are 100% sure you want to work in that sector then industry does make sense. There are people that are unconditionally in love with tech and would kill to get a FAANG job because they like both the company and the industry; people that are likely to stay in that industry forever. My guess is that this represents 5% of people and the other 95% who want to explore multiple industries in a short period of time should pivot to consulting. You'll also be exposed to different problems (finance, operations, marketing, access etc) whilst in industry you will slot into one function such as finance OR marketing etc. This also impacts exit options; if you spend 3 years in tech and don't like it it'll be harder for you to pivot to a vastly different industry than a consultant simply because you haven't had the exposure.

All of the above is something that you need to analyse personally. It is also 100% true that WLB is much better in industry than in consulting (at least as a junior) so if you know you want a specific role in a firm of a specific sector and are happy with that, take industry. In all other cases I would take consulting.

Apr 27, 2019 - 6:43pm

I think the reality definitely deviates from the narrative that is often spouted around consulting. At the end of the day, you have to like the actual job because there certainly are many industry options that pay better (especially in tech) will normal hours.

Consulting can be good for career growth, but again, I think people over inflate how much it actually helps. Consider: lots of high quality people are attracted to consulting over industry due to this strong narrative. If those same talented people went into industry directly, I'd wager that they would have seen a good promotion schedule and rose up in their companies regardless (perhaps even faster than an external consultant exiting into the company, since the person already at the company will actually understand what it's like to really work on the ground).

There are obviously exceptions in both directions to the above. I think the bottom line, IMO, is that you should do something you enjoy where you're happy with the pay. If you're talented and hard working, you'll excel in your career regardless of whether you're in industry vs. consulting.

Apr 28, 2019 - 7:04am

I think this answer sums up exactly what I would have said. Consulting is not a secret wormhole that will spit you out as a CFO at some F500.

You have to enjoy the work, the lifestyle associated with living in a hotel 3-4 days a week, the ever present anxiety of piecing decks together the night before a pitch, or dodging tricky questions in workshops and SteerCos.

Apr 28, 2019 - 7:41am

I know C-Suite guys who traveled both paths. Small sample size but I would argue the ones who came up through consulting are more well rounded, have experienced more and have a broader "world view". I would guess they are more adaptive to the changes of that world.

They also seem to be less technically driven (although they have great technical ability / knowledge) so they come across a bit more approachable.

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