11/15/12

I know it's a bit early but I've really been thinking about which firms I'll be applying to for summer internships. While I'll obviously aim for MBB, I'd really like to know how non-MBB consulting firms stack up in terms of good business school opportunities (M7 + Tuck) and brand. By brand, I don't mean name recognition. Instead, I mean that it's a firm that employers (inside + outside consulting) will respect and be impressed by.

I guess I've always considered OW and Booz & Co. to be the firms most comparable to MBB, with firms such as AT Kearney, Parthenon, LEK, Deloitte S&O, Monitor (before the bankruptcy) to be more or less equal with each other and slightly below in prestige than the two above.

Any thoughts? Any input would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

Comments (38)

11/15/12

You're a bit early?? I'm curious, because nearly all consulting firms in my area have, or are just about to be, finished with their recruiting efforts. What year are you?

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11/15/12
Best Response
11/25/12

A.T. Kearney: An old-guard going through a major renaissance period. ATK was a spin-off of the original McKinsey (Andrew Thomas Kearney joined James O. McKinsey, and was McKinsey & Co.'s first partner. When McKinsey died, Kearney took control of the Chicago office, while the other partners took the Boston office.). The firm has a very strong reputation in operations, though is less present in pure strategy. ATK was purchased by EDS in the mid-1990s, and then in 2006 the partners performed a management buy-out. Since then, the firm has been very rapidly growing (several year's of double digit growth) and expanding both its global footprint as well as the services it provides. On a size/presence basis, it is probably the most comparable to the MBB from the list you provided. The firm has 57 offices in 39 countries, and around 3,000 employees; putting its close in size to Bain. ATK has been growing very aggressively, and seems to be positioning itself to shake-up the MBB, or make it the MBBA. ATK and Deloitte are probably my two recommendations amongst the four that you mentioned for B-school prospects. Kearney also has the Global Business Policy Council and its weekly publication Executive Agenda, which are a government policy think tank and publication showcasing its thought leadership respectively. I'd expect ATK to grow in prominence/prestige over the next few years as it continues its post-MBO renaissance.

Parthenon: Interesting firm started by two ex-Bain guys that is rapidly gaining momentum in some high-growth spaces. Its comparably small size puts it more in the boutique space (think ~300 consultants worldwide), but it has chosen to specialize in a few niches like education and healthcare, which offer high-growth potential. The firm is a bit of a wild-card at this point given its size, but it certainly offers great growth opportunities for those looking for the small firm feel.

LEK: A great firm, with a heavy concentration in M&A and DD projects, though obviously presence in other practices. If you have ambitions to switch-over to PE, then LEK would be a great non-finance platform to do so. The company has also carved out expertise in a few interesting spaces such as biotech, entertainment and alternative energy. So you'd definitely be working in some interesting and high-growth spaces. One of the biggest strengths and at the same time weaknesses of the firm is its comparably small size (albeit bigger than Parthenon). While the firm has been growing quickly, it has only about 20 offices worldwide; so expect much travelling to cover each offices geographic coverage area (relative to most consulting firms that is). Overall, LEK is a great up and coming firm.

Deloitte S&O: This one is a mix of contradictions. On one hand, they have been rapidly increasing their presence in pure strategy and operations projects. Their acquisition of Monitor's assets certainly speaks to their ambitions in this space. Coupled with their abilities in technology and human capital, they and Accenture are arguably the only two firms that can provide a full end-to-end project delivery -- which is becoming (apparently) increasingly popular among firms. Likewise, out of the MBA they actually have one of the highest total compensation packages on the market (including MBB). That said -- as much as the Deloitte Consulting folks hate to admit --- they are still an accounting firm at their core; so expect great bureaucracy and slower career advancement. Also, unless this has changed recently, each office runs its own separate P&L, meaning that collaboration between any two offices can be hit or miss. Overall, the firm does (surprisingly?) quite well in B-school placements in the M7; and provides solid support for the GMAT, application writing, and occasionally tuition reimbursement. It also is rumored to have a better work-life balance; though speaking to my buddies that work there, this might be more marketing than fact.

Other firms that I'd recommend that you consider (beyond those that you mentioned):

Roland Berger: a tier-1 (in Europe) strategy consulting firm. While Roland Berger does not have the same presence and prestige in the North America that it has in Europe, it is a great firm with huge breadth of industry expertise and a major global footprint. The company has 51 offices in 35 countries, including 5 in North America; the firm is heavily concentrated in Europe and Asia.

Arthur D. Little: The world's oldest consulting firm, with 35 offices across 20 countries. The firm is known for its more scientific bend toward solving cases, which stems from its roots at MIT. The firm has gone through its ups and downs over its 100+ year history, and no longer has the presence and prestige it once had. Nevertheless, in the past few years, the firm has been gradually rebuilding its prominence in its core practice areas such as Oil&Gas, chemicals, and telecom. Given the firm's near bankruptcy in 2001, the ADL leadership have become cost hawks: consultants often fly coach, expenses are very closely monitored, and little money is spent on office appearance/decor.

11/26/12

EDITTED:

@CanadianConsultingGuy - Insightful post with a lot of good info. Only thing that I found that was incorrect was about LEK's travel requirements. My roommate is at LEK - he does not travel at all. The culture at LEK is that they do not travel at all. The only times they do travel may be for midterm/final presentations. Some teams may travel on a weekly basis to the client site, but it is rare.

@therock55 - From what I have read and have heard in my experiences as a consultant, there are really only 6 firms (excl. Monitor) outside off MBB that place significantly will into M7:

1) OW
2) Booz
3) LEK
4) Parthenon
5) ATK
6) Deloitte S&O

When you are looking into firm b-school placements, remember to consider the placement rates, not the placement quantities. For example, if Parthenon places 5 to HBS and Deloitte S&O places 10, Parthenon's placement is leaps and bounds beyond Deloitte S&O's because of the sheer size of that group.

Another thing to consider is your end game. If you are looking to place into PE, go for LEK, Parthenon, and perhaps OW and Booz. If you are looking to place into corporate strategy, focus more on getting into OW, Booz, and perhaps LEK and Parthenon, depending on your industry of interest (education, bio, pharma). IMO, Deloitte and ATK are a notch below these four in terms of a strategy practice.

11/27/12

@CanadianConsultingGuy

Great post but 2 small mistakes. Dondestanlaschicas already talked about the low travel requirements of LEK. Additionally, I disagree with ATK challenging MBB for top spot due to the following reasons:

  1. They were looking to merge with Booz, partly because of their worsening financials. Ok that is back in 2010, but still might be a point.
  2. They are not comparable in size to Bain as you mentioned. Bain has still roughly twice the size of ATK.
  3. I think OW or Roland Berger might be the closest one to challenge them. Roland Berger is already en par or partly above MBB (mainly Bain) in some major European countries and if they (ever) get their North American business flying, they finally have a truly worldwide footprint. OW is the same size as ATK but has more financial firepower to grow, due to MMC who try to build a real competitor for MBB (e.g. merging all their consulting firms under one brand).

You didn't write anything about OW. What is your opinion about their GMC/FS work?

11/27/12

Great post guys

11/27/12

Great posts above. I just want to add that these days I've seen ATK compete mostly in supply chain work, and not much else. Agree that RB is most likely challenger... not sure about OW. Anything outside FS still seems pretty average over there.

11/27/12

First of all, thanks for all the reponses!

@dondanestanlaschicas

Interesting you mention ATK is a notch below LEK and Parthenon. I was considered them on the same level or even above because almost everyone at my school seems to take the ATK offer when given the option between the 3. Like you said though, perhaps they were more interested in supply chain/operations, which seems to be ATK's strong point.

11/27/12

Parthenon has v. strong exits and high compensation, but I hear that they ax a decent percentage of their graduate intake after 6 months... any truth to this?

11/27/12

Deloitte/KPMG/EY/PwC - Big4 prestige, competitive pay for entry level (buddy of mine at Deloitte starting at 65, although not sure how true that is).
Booz is the powerhouse firm of consulting.
The rest of those firms are in a different tier.

11/27/12

What's Booz? Surely you don't mean BAH?

11/27/12

Booz is now Strategy& after Merger with PwC

11/27/12

I know that, that was my point. There is no Booz, it's Strategy&, unless you are referring to BAH (which obviously goes by BAH)

11/27/12

Booz is now Strategy& after Merger with PwC

11/27/12

This question has been covered already. In 10 seconds:

Tier 2: Big 4 (Deloitte S&O probably top)/Strategy&
Tier 3: Accenture/AT/BAH
OW doesn't matter much in the US

Accenture Strategy may count as Tier 2.

11/27/12
John-Doe8:

Tier 2: Big 4 (Deloitte S&O probably top)/Strategy&
Tier 3: Accenture/AT/BAH

Not all Big4 are second tier, KPMG clearly isn't. A.T. Kearney is definitely second tier, not third. In my opinion, BAH is a government contractor/outsourcing firm and not a classic management consultancy; 99% of their revenue comes from government.

11/27/12

Like I said, in 10 seconds. There is plenty of discussion of the tiers and which firms are best/etc.

11/27/12

Booz Allen moved back into commercial work now that the non-compete period with Booz & Company (now PwC's Strategy&) is over. The firm is in the process of standing up the new commercial practice now according to a recent WaPo article and has already done some high-profile work for the MLB. Check out their website for details.

11/27/12

I would choose Olier Wyman, Roland Berger or AT Kearney...

Big 4 are too... big... it's a factory not consulting... Without talking about MBB, If you compare a Roland Berger office vs a E&Y office, it's completely different... At RB it is one nice floor for let's say 100 consultants in a luxuous building and at E&Y it might be a tower or 10 average floors with Audit, tax, consulting,etc...

I really don't like the spirit at the big 4...

11/27/12

I feel like too many people post here without any understanding of the current state of the industry. My friend works at Deloitte S&O for the summer and is doing a pure growth strategy reporting directly into the CEO of the company. You don't have that experience ever at EY, KMPG. Grouping it all as "Big 4" makes no sense.

I'd use the following tiers at the MBA level.

Tier 2: Deloitte/Strategy&/Oliver Wyman/LEK/Parthenon (At Kellogg, Deloitte won every cross-offer though)
Tier 2a: AT Kearney (ever partner I talk to expects them to be bought out by KPMG within a year or two)
Tier 3: Accenture/EY/PwC
Tier 4: KPMG, RB, ZS Associates, Huron

The rest don't do MBA recruiting so don't know where I'd put them. As EY integrates parthenon, and PwC integrates Strategy&, I'd expect them to go with a single branding eventually that ends up within the tier 2a area.

11/27/12

Are you sure about ATK being bought out by KPMG within a year or two? From all the people in the consulting industry I've talked to, it seems like ATK is definitely not interested in being bought out again after what happened with EDS.

11/27/12

i'm at one of the firms you mentioned, and we will not be "integrating" into the parent company given our size. operations are to remain separate for a considerable unforeseen amount of time into the foreseeable future.

11/27/12

Are we talking only US or other locations as well?

LEK is quite good in Europe.

Also, take a look at elite boutiques like Marakon.

11/27/12

Marakon is a really sexy strategy firm. Had a final round with them. It would have been my preference over any non-MBB firm if I got an offer.

11/27/12

Strategy& = PwC + Booz ......but confusingly enough PwC still retains its own management and strategy consulting practices

11/27/12

Interesting that people always group Accenture together at one group. I'd agree that their general consulting division (what they refer to as Accenture Consulting) is probably a bit lower that the big 4 accounting groups.

However Accenture does have a much smaller group they refer to as Accenture Strategy that honestly is on par with Deloitte S&O, probably just one notch below MBB. I say that based off of compensation, perks, mba reimbursement, and project opportunities, work flow etc.

11/27/12
darkhelmet953:

Interesting that people always group Accenture together at one group. I'd agree that their general consulting division (what they refer to as Accenture Consulting) is probably a bit lower that the big 4 accounting groups.

However Accenture does have a much smaller group they refer to as Accenture Strategy that honestly is on par with Deloitte S&O, probably just one notch below MBB. I say that based off of compensation, perks, mba reimbursement, and project opportunities, work flow etc.

The knock I've heard on Accenture Strategy is that it's main purpose is to sell IT implementation work as follow-on work, so it's not being truly independent in its solutions, and it's work is tilted heavily towards IT issues. Also the caliber of talent can tilt a bit lower (I was interviewed by a guy who did his mba part time...something you don't see at other tier 2 firms) They pay great post mba tho.

11/27/12
darkhelmet953:

Interesting that people always group Accenture together at one group. I'd agree that their general consulting division (what they refer to as Accenture Consulting) is probably a bit lower that the big 4 accounting groups.

However Accenture does have a much smaller group they refer to as Accenture Strategy that honestly is on par with Deloitte S&O, probably just one notch below MBB. I say that based off of compensation, perks, mba reimbursement, and project opportunities, work flow etc.

I got an offer for Accenture Strategy. The pay is competitive, but the talent level definitely wasn't. At no time did I consider accepting their offer over my other ones, including Deloitte S&O. I would not consider them on par with S&O, IMHO.

Not trying to knock them by any means (I thought highly enough of Accenture to apply), but I definitely have to go on the record on the other side of your statement.

11/27/12

Did you accept the offer from S&O?

11/27/12

No, MBB

11/27/12

Unfortunately, ACN Strategy exists primarily to sell companies on the juicy implementation contracts. Not to mention their bench is deep as projects have dried up after overhiring, at least in the markets I am connected too via friends. They are certainly a firm worth applying to, but are not on par with S&O yet in terms of brand or projects.

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11/27/12

for Big 4 you dont need an MBA,
How is your spanish? if you interested in a job in LatAm, PM and i will give you my email so that you send to me your CV

11/27/12

Generally to get to the more senior positions you will need an MBA minus the rare exception. Also, if you were to do an MBA you could more smoothly transition into a senior consultants role whereas right now, you may have issues with what level to be staffed at.

I have never done a career move, all I do is work at a Non-MBB consulting firm and this is my understanding.

11/27/12

You have a strong chance of getting an offer from one of Deloitte, Big4 etc. without an MBA. Just make sure you package your experience into smt useful - focus on e.g. your financial sector experience.

Get your applications out asap and see what you get - this way you can at least make an informed decision.

11/27/12
11/27/12
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