Picking a boutique over MBB

biggles15's picture
Rank: Chimp | 15

Hello! It seems everybody aspires to get into MBB but I'm wondering if anyone here turned down MBB for a boutique (pre-MBA if that makes a difference)?

If so, can you share your reasons for doing so and what you perceive the pros & cons of this to be? And are you happy with your decision?

Comments (11)

Apr 3, 2011

Prestige/exit opps wise, basically nothing beats MBB. I am not saying they are necessarily the best at everything (Mercer is better at HR, OW at FS, BAH in Gov, etc.), but they put people into top f500 and bschools more than almost any other consulting firm.

If you turn them down, I am guessing you would be doing so for fit reasons. This is entirely justifiable, especially if it is an elite boutique like Parthenon/LEK. You will work better where you are happy, and probably get better assignments. Those firms still send people to f500 and elite bschools. You just don't get the universal brand name; however, the people in corp strategy know the elite boutiques and respect them.

I wouldn't sweat the choice if you feel strongly a boutique is a better fit.

Finally, I am just going by what friends in consulting have said. I am a finance guy, and could be talking out my ass.

    • 1
Apr 3, 2011

Yep - better fit + specialized projects in the industry/sector I'm most interested in

Side perk: easier to shine/differentiate yourself

Apr 4, 2011

Interesting thanks for the input guys.

Yeah so I did pick a boutique over MBB and was/am confident that I made the right decision, but all my friends think I'm stupid :p

My reasons: primarily fit, also less travel
Only con I think is: lack of global brand name recognition but not such a huge issue to me

Cheers :)

Apr 4, 2011

I would also consider boutiques if you are going to (1) work in an area that they compete strongly with MBB (e.g., OW FS) and (2) you enjoy that type of work and people there. If you will be working within elite practices at an elite boutique, I really see no difference between say an OW FS and an MBB as you will be getting great projects that will prove favorable to business schools and exit ops within that speciality. The only key difference between an elite boutique with a certain great practice and MBB is that if you do opt to go into a boutique, you more than likely will be aligned to a certain practice as opposed to being a generalist - this of course, like everything else, has its pros and cons.

Apr 4, 2011

My friend turned down MBB for a "lower tier". She knew she wanted to stay in consulting (aka didn't care about post-consulting exit opps), liked the people better at her chosen firm, and the hours were better (plus less travel at her chosen firm).

Proboscis

Apr 4, 2011

I know people who've turned down MBB for boutique firms back in '08. Some of them loved it, others got let go by their boutiques when the economy soured. You never know, I guess.

Apr 4, 2011

I have a friend who interned at one of the elite boutiques, got a FT offer at MBB and took it, and now seriously regrets his decision. What he couldn't stress enough was that even what may seem like pretty small differences between firms in people, culture, and lifestyle start to add up when you're racking up countless hotel hours with them. This is not even a brand difference, this will vary across brand and which office you're based out of.

While MBB definitely has an edge on the boutiques in terms of "prestige" "exit opps", that is just a function of their aggregate classes. On average, any given MBB class will be stronger than an elite boutique because of its extensive resource base. The fact that you got offers from both means you are obviously talented enough to excel at either firm.

Apr 6, 2011

If by "boutique" you mean Monitor/Parthenon/Booz/etc., then yeah, that's a fine decision if you think you'll be happier there. But if you mean some fifty-person shop with one office and six clients, that would be a huge mistake.

Apr 7, 2011
2x2Matrix:

If by "boutique" you mean Monitor/Parthenon/Booz/etc., then yeah, that's a fine decision if you think you'll be happier there. But if you mean some fifty-person shop with one office and six clients, that would be a huge mistake.

Actually it is one of those "fifty person shops with one office" - not in USA btw. It's not well known outside of consulting or abroad but the people are top notch and it seems to place very well into top MBA programs & other jobs.

I've decided at the end of the day fit is more important than random people having heard of my company so pretty content with my choice :)

(I thought Monitor/Booz etc were considered 2nd tier?)

Apr 7, 2011
biggles15:
2x2Matrix:

If by "boutique" you mean Monitor/Parthenon/Booz/etc., then yeah, that's a fine decision if you think you'll be happier there. But if you mean some fifty-person shop with one office and six clients, that would be a huge mistake.

Actually it is one of those "fifty person shops with one office" - not in USA btw. It's not well known outside of consulting or abroad but the people are top notch and it seems to place very well into top MBA programs & other jobs.

I've decided at the end of the day fit is more important than random people having heard of my company so pretty content with my choice :)

(I thought Monitor/Booz etc were considered 2nd tier?)

Maybe Booz doesn't belong on my list, but Monitor definitely does. If you want to stay in consulting long-term, a little boutique is definitely a fine choice, but the reason why I'd generally call it a mistake is that by picking a small boutique you're probably reducing your options if you have no sense of what you want to come after consulting.

Of course, it's a personal decision, and it's really a case-by-case question. It sounds like you've thought it, through, so the generic advice doesn't apply, and if your gut tells you this is where to go you're right to act accordingly. Hope it works out, it's a ballsy move.

Apr 7, 2011
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