MBB vs. Direct into Industry

SamSays1989's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 12

Hi all,

I'm about to go into an MBA (M7) and I'm interested in going into industry over the long-term, aiming to work up to a senior management position.

At first I got the impression that working at MBB for a few years and then transitioning into industry and working my way up would be the best tactic. However, from looking further into it, it seems that might not be the case. I have read that if you do that then you end up in strategy roles in a support function without any real P&L or management responsibility, thus limiting the upside. Is this an accurate picture of the situation? I don't particularly like the proposition of ending up in a support/strategy role and being stuck there long-term.

Is it instead better to perhaps apply directly for internal leadership roles at companies post-MBA in one the streams such as production/supply chain mgmt or general management? It feels like this would provide more direct experience in a P&L capacity/management?

I guess an important question is how difficult is it to go from MBB to an industry role with any P&L/management responsibility and work up from there? And would it instead be more effective to go straight into industry? Which route would be quicker to get to a senior position?

Many thanks in advance

Comments (4)

Most Helpful
Aug 4, 2018

Depends on how married you are to the industry in question. If you want optionality or are uncertain about which industry interests you most, then Consulting would be the ideal option. Otherwise, you're better off getting as much experience as you can w/ market leading firms in your industry of interest.

On average, most Consultants who jump into industry do end up taking Strategy roles but I don't see it as limiting their upside. They're essentially in a position to drive the company's direction, with lots of interaction w/ decionmaking execs. Lots of operators don't get that kind of facetime and exposure until later in their careers. There's also something to be said for coming in pre-branded w/ the MBB stamp. Secondly, Consultants who time their jumps too early take the path of least resistance and enter the Strategy track. Obviously, no one is going to hand an entire Business Unit over to a Junior Consultant with 2 years experience. Now a Project Leader or Director with an established track record and years of experience working on industry related projects? That's an entirely different story. They transition right into the most senior roles.

Aug 5, 2018

Thanks, this is really helpful.

Your first point is very true as I'm not 100% settled on an industry and so going into consulting at an office in a city like NY or Chicago (i.e. diversified industry base) would potentially be wise.

You're right on the responsibility, and I wouldn't expect to be handed an entire business unit after 2 years at MBB. I think it's more of a nagging concern over whether I would be pigeon-holed in a strategy department so that P&L/Management roles are not available. If it's possible for people after 2 years at MBB to transition into those P&L/Mgmt roles at a junior level then that would be great, because at least you can then prove yourself and work your way up.

I think the pertinent question is: do people get headhunted for junior P&L/mgmt roles after 2/3 years at MBB, from which they can then work their up?


Aug 5, 2018

Yes, why not?

Not sure why you think you'll be pigeon-holed into strategy. MBB'ers don't only exit to strategy. The exits of MBB are very very diverse. Less than half of MBB's work is pure strategy now adays. They also do a lot of Operations (including supply chain mgmt), Implementation, tech, analytics, etc. If you don't want to do strat work, as a generalist you are free to do other types of projects.


Aug 5, 2018