Industry versus consulting

I am a current M7 second year MBA and have offers from my target sector in strategy and another offer from a consultancy that I am trying to decide between.

The industry offer is just over six figures and with a small signing bonus (~$10k) (both are under my MBA programs average benchmarks). Additionally it has a small annual bonus (5%) With that said it is with one of the top four companies in my target sector and offers significant leadership exposure within the company. Also seems to have better work-life balance.

The consulting offer is with a medium sized consulting firm with a significant strength in my target sector, particularly in Europe, but getting more well known in the U.S. The salary is significantly more ~$130k and the bonus is as well ($25-30k), with an annual bonus between 25-30% of base based on performance.

Eventually, I want to move into industry in corporate strategy / business development, so I would lean towards the industry role, but the total comp is sizable in difference and I will have over $100k in student loans by the time I finish my MBA.

Has anyone made a similar decision? Is it worth taking the hit now?

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Comments (12)

Jan 19, 2017 - 3:39pm

Have you considered making a counteroffer to the industry job? It seems like the only thing making this decision difficult for you is the comp, unless you're not really as interested in the sector and company as you claim to be.

Unfortunately I have, and while they made promises about increases after starting, because it is a rotational program it is standardized and they won't negotiate. Just to clarify, the consulting job is 100% focused on the sector as well.

Jan 19, 2017 - 3:57pm

As someone who went right to Industry, I'd recommend taking the Consulting offer in this case. It's much larger, will better help you pay down your 6 figure student loans, and will likely set you up to exit into your target industry company (or others like it) when you're ready, probably at a higher level-assuming it's as strong in your sector as you say. So there's really minimal downside.

And I USUALLY preach going directly into industry (if there's a preference/if industry is the endgame) unless one has an MBB offer.

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Jan 19, 2017 - 4:34pm

I understand the point TheGrind is trying to make: however, I would say take the industry job. Generally if you know your target industry, I would go directly for the role and work hard to move up quickly. As you mentioned, it offers significant leadership exposure, so you'll get IMO a better experience for the long term. Particularly if the mid-sized consulting firm isn't strong in the US yet (and I assume you're working in the US), the industry job makes more sense.

That being said - I would check to see if they can sweeten the deal a little more and improve the starting salary. You do have another offer, so use that as leverage.

Jan 24, 2017 - 9:46am

One thing that would still play in favor of the consulting offer would be the growth potential in the U.S. Granted LeeMaj is among the higher performers at the firm this could mean interesting growth within the firm and meaningful development opportunities before switching. Anyway, just my $0.02.

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Jan 20, 2017 - 9:54am

TheGrind Did you have to make a similar decision? Additionally, coming out of a consultancy I've heard, at least for MBB, that people come into industry at a higher level. Do you think this holds through to solid mid-sized sector consultancies? (think: ATK - Manufacturing, PA Consulting - Defense, LEK - PE, Parthenon - PE / Education)

Jan 24, 2017 - 9:51am

Consulting vs. Industry (Originally Posted: 11/28/2012)

Pretty broad question here, specifically for POST-MBA:

If you know you want to end up doing corporate finance (corpdev or strat) in a specific sector (energy, tech, etc), would it be better to just enter directly into F500 or does two years of post-MBA management consulting (MBB) leap you ahead of the rest of the class? What about MBA->LDP vs MC?


Jan 20, 2017 - 12:30pm

No, I knew I wanted industry and only considered Finance academies and companies with the highest rated rotational programs.

My current rotation is with an Internal Strategy Group, so admittedly it's full of MBB, but I can tell you anecdotally that depending on the strength of the practice, absolutely. In my sector I've seen it done pretty regularly with Deloitte/Monitor (outside of MBB) and a couple other firms like ATK. I know that my company likes to bring on board MCs depending on how an engagement has gone or how much business they drive-and they use different firms for diff projects (i.e. Strat, technology) so there's def. some diversity of firms represented here (F50 Multinational). Not knowing the details of your industry I couldn't do anything more than speculate, though. Check out Linkedin to see outcomes for the firm, and to look at movement within your industry and see if those paths look reasonable for you.

I also agree w/ the previous poster about possibly renegotiating. That salary is the main sticking point for me-I had a similar situation and asked them to match my school's median as I had a higher dollar offer (but in a more expensive location). As they weren't too far off to begin with they were accommodating.

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Jan 24, 2017 - 9:52am

Depends on what you did Pre-MBA, I think if you didn't do consulting, it may be a helpful learning experience plus give you a bit of a brand advantage. Pls note though that I've never worked in corp dev myself so others may qualify what I just said.

Jan 24, 2017 - 9:53am

I second OP's question. I am an engineer undergrad who will be working in corporate finance until B-school. I think I want to move over to MBB after B-school for a couple years with the end goal of moving back to the industry I am currently in. Is this a good move or should I try to get into corporate strategy straight out of B school in the industry I eventually strive to be an executive in?

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