Joining Strategy& Dubai in fall as an Associate. WSO is brutal about S& and I am rethinking


I will be joining Strategy& Dubai office in October after completing my studies in Europe. I interviewed with MBB in the Middle east and went to the final rounds but could not make it through. I need your advice on the following:

  1. I have heard that S& practice in Dubai is really strong and they are competing with BCG and Mckinsey for top projects. Is this true? Do they have really have a strong brand value?

  2. I am really interested in making a career in consulting, go for an MBA and come back to continue with the firm. Recent posts on WSO paint a dark picture about Strategy& as a firm and its culture. Is this all true? Or has it improved in the recent times? Can you also tell me about the culture at its ME office?

  3. What tips would you give me to perform better as an associate and get faster promotions and a sponsored MBA track?

Please help me!
Thank you :)

Comments (6)

Most Helpful
May 15, 2020 - 7:03am

First of all, congrats on your offer.

  1. S& is a top3 firm in the region after falling from a no.1 position post-acquisition. Some practices essentially transferred to McK, BCG and Kearney, followed some years later by a few senior partners leaving to lead Bain and Alix Partners. The office has shrinked to around ~160 consultants from ~400 pre acquisition around 2015, but especially after strong growth between 2018-2019 got back to 400+ again. In the past, Booz would be working on the most strategic work across sectors, now Strategy& is competing for similar high profile cases with McK and BCG - especially in the public sector. Some sectors, such as TMT are still dominated by S&, others like Financial Services were completely lost and are being slowly rebuilt. Brand value is still there and you won't be behind on the job market against McK or BCG - many top firms in the region will have S& / Booz alumni in senior positions. Although being from the firm might not be the most influential factor, as you will surely realize after spending some time in the ME.

  2. S& is known to have the toughest hours on the market (which has already one of the longest hours globally). The senior leadership is aware of this reputation and juniors recently came to the point of raising this issue internally, so there are some efforts being made as it started to have implications on recruiting. But don't expect any drastic changes. Also how COVID will change this remains to be seen, as the whole market might shrink ... No matter what, do not come to Dubai with an expectation of light work, great money and chill on the beach. Only great money part will materialize

  3. Hard to give tips, everyone has his/her own strengths and weaknesses, but in general:

  • Learn how to cope with lack of sleep - both mentally and physically

  • As a fresh Associate, focus on quickly learning all the mechanics - be quick AND precise in Powerpoint (go through older client decks and absorb the formatting and slide logic)

  • Be positive and bring energy to the team. The hours are tough for everyone, last thing your teammates want to be dealing with is a whiny junior (refer to 1st bullet point)

If MBA is your primary goal, you are in luck as S& sponsors the most Associates in the ME and as an only office in the region actually requires (bar few exceptions) to do the MBA program before becoming a Senior Associate. Its also practical to understand that promotions and advancement in titles are also the slowest on the market (not even aligned to global Strategy& timelines)

Hope this helps and feel free to reach out with more specific questions

Good luck

May 15, 2020 - 10:33am

Incoming McK BA into a non Dubai ME office from the US, was wondering if you had any tips to offer outside of the ones you mentioned above that is region specific. I plan on eventually transferring back to the US in my career and I've heard I have to be a top performer for that. I start in September and am trying to make the best use of my time.

May 15, 2020 - 9:01pm

Thanks for the tip, I'll definitely angle for that when I start. I think there's a good pipeline already for O&G in the office, I'll try for TMT once I get there.

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