Is it worth aiming higher?

Working in technology consulting at a big 4 company. Not implementation, mainly DD for PE clients.

I've gotten an offer from a Tier 2 (ATK, OC&C, LEK etc.). I might also apply to MBB as I feel like I've got a reasonable chance to get it.

For quite a while I've been focused on getting into a REAL strategy position. But I'm having doubts if it makes sense in the long term.

I'm not convinced I want to go to a buy-side, so probably a decent exit would be to industry, which leaves roles like IT manager/director or roles in corporate strategy. And in such case I'm not convinced MBB/Tier 2's career boost is too significant.

In my current job, I really enjoy good WLB (usually under 50h per week) and little stress because I'm a top performer. I could easily close my laptop at 8PM, and the manager would raise no objections, or work remotely whenever I feel like it. Also, the local team is quite small, so the promotions are fairly frequent.

However, I have two main concerns: (1) the DD work starts to become not too challenging and smaller projects are getting repetitive. Sure, sometimes I'd get an interesting $1B+ transaction, but usually they are much less exciting. (2) I'm afraid the salary increases at the big 4 start to flatten out really quickly from the senior consultant level on (except partners, obviously) compare to other companies.

MBB/Tier 2 offers way better salary and more exciting projects. But then, you become a smaller fish in a bigger pond. Long hours are an obvious drawback. Moreover, from some WSO comments, it seems that if you don't make a partner or get into a fund, the exit salaries in strategy are not substantially bigger than the ones in tech. Within the 1-2 years horizon, strategy consulting is objectively a better option, but I'm not sure about a 10yrs+ one.

Is it worth leaving this fairly convenient track (with a possibility of exiting to a decent tech position) for the prestige/exposure/money of actual strategy consulting?

Comments (6)

  • Prospect in Consulting
Aug 21, 2021 - 11:21am

How are you working on DD projects while being under the Tech Consulting practice at a Big 4? I thought those roles were strictly tech/IT implementation work. Are you an exception or does this happen fairly frequently?

Most Helpful
Aug 21, 2021 - 7:34pm

It's tech DD, so I consider it a type of operational DD rather than CDD. My team specializes in DD projects and now is technically part of deals-focused business unit. However, I know that at another big4, a similar team is still within a traditional tech consulting practice, so it depends on the company. Such technology DD is usually sold as a part of a bigger project, so it depends on partners' politics which practice actually sells it. In my company, there are a few teams that, in my opinion, would be capable of carrying out such work, but we're best at selling it. 

So to answer your question, if you consider the number of people doing tech consulting - yeah it's quite rare, because there are loads of employees doing even more boring things, like some SAP implementation. From another perspective, however, if you know you want to join consulting to do such technology DD projects, it's not infrequent. Nowadays, every major player offers such services and has relevant teams to carry out the work.

Aug 23, 2021 - 4:45pm

Organization can vary by company, but no. There a number of "hybrid" practices where you're effectively an SME who works with other areas of the business. For example Deloitte has a number of HR M&A people who fall under the Human Resources practice but work primarily on HR considerations in mergers.

  • 1
Aug 23, 2021 - 9:49am

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