Post-MBA Consulting

GoIllini's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 745

Hey guys, I've got a question about consulting.

I've always been interested in strategy consulting but have been deterred by the work/life balance that the career entails.

I am starting a career in corporate finance at a F500 in June and will be part of a finance and accounting rotational program. My undergrad is in Finance.

An MBA is something that I want to do, and fully plan on going back to get in 2-4 years. My favorite school is Ross, as I have grown up a UM fan, but I would also be interested in Kellogg and others as I am from the suburbs of Chicago.

Now to get to my question. How is the career outlook for post-MBA positions in consulting? I am interested in the work/life balance, career projectory, compensation, etc. If I could get info about the MBB firms, as well as second tier firms such as Deloitte that would be great. My hope is that the balance will be much better in a higher position, although I do not know what position post-MBA people typically go into.

Thanks guys!!

Comments (25)

Mar 6, 2012

I think you really have to ask yourself why you want to go into Consulting? Is it financially driven or do you envisage learning a lot about different businesses then working for a client? Knowing why you want to get into consulting is key because it's not for everyone.

I spent a year at Deloitte as a BA and absolutely hated it from day one. I envisaged making a difference to companies performance my analysis and meeting with CEOs / other execs and being really valued. This didn't happen. My manager at deloitte was a psychopath (as many overachieving type A people are) who basically made my life a living hell, largely because they were looking to cut numbers due to slow business. On top of this, we only had government work going due to the economy. Consulting is heavily economy dependent so whether there are jobs available when you're done is really hard to say at this stage.

Anyway, what most people forget about consulting is that you're there to do the shit that a) the client does not want to do or b) the client doesn't have the time, skill set, 'expertise' to do. Meaning you're there because it's a fucktard of a problem to solve. So they expect you to pull the sun out of your ass and put major pressure on you to deliver. These are often not the 'fun / rewarding' projects consultancies make them out to be so you'll be suckered into working for them.

Choose consulting for the right reasons and be honest about what the demands are. I work in Consumer Packaged goods now (think Kraft, Pepsi co etc) and I'm much happier. I work 10 hours a week less for more $. And oh yeah, we have McKinsey in at the moment and everyone bar the management team despise them. It's hard to be an outsider in a business and that's what you'll always be as a consultant.

GoIllini:

Hey guys, I've got a question about consulting.

I've always been interested in strategy consulting but have been deterred by the work/life balance that the career entails.

I am starting a career in corporate finance at a F500 in June and will be part of a finance and accounting rotational program. My undergrad is in Finance.

An MBA is something that I want to do, and fully plan on going back to get in 2-4 years. My favorite school is Ross, as I have grown up a UM fan, but I would also be interested in Kellogg and others as I am from the suburbs of Chicago.

Now to get to my question. How is the career outlook for post-MBA positions in consulting? I am interested in the work/life balance, career projectory, compensation, etc. If I could get info about the MBB firms, as well as second tier firms such as Deloitte that would be great. My hope is that the balance will be much better in a higher position, although I do not know what position post-MBA people typically go into.

Thanks guys!!

"More Cowbell! I still need more Cowbell!"

Mar 7, 2012

SodaBear,

Did working at Deloitte help you in anyway to get the CPG job? And are you in a strategy role or brand management type role or something else? If someone makes it to principal (or whatever the level is just before partner), can he/she exit to a VP/C-level role in industry?

Thanks!

Mar 7, 2012
IRSPB:

SodaBear,

Did working at Deloitte help you in anyway to get the CPG job? And are you in a strategy role or brand management type role or something else? If someone makes it to principal (or whatever the level is just before partner), can he/she exit to a VP/C-level role in industry?

Thanks!

Any brand name company definitely helps you land your next job in whatever field that may be in. Deloitte from a brand perspective helped in that sense (people know it's a big beast of an organisation with a lot of well educated smart people in it) but I specifically sought out the exit opp myself.

I'm in a strategy / market research 'insights' role. The company is pretty flexible though so I'm hoping to move into Marketing or other areas over time.

On the Principal leaving thing, I would say most people at that level rarely leave. I saw more Managers (around 30ish) leave for other opps than people higher up. The reason being you're so close to Partner they figure they need to gut it out, even though most still never make Partner.

Most people at C-level started in the same company and worked their way up (e.g. the guy who heads P&G and AG Lafey before him). Some consultants do land very good gigs higher up but it really depends on the individual.

"More Cowbell! I still need more Cowbell!"

Mar 7, 2012

Work life balance does not get better in consulting. If anything, it gets worse, especially at a manager level.

Mar 7, 2012

Thanks guys I appreciate it! Think I'll stay on the corporate side.

Mar 7, 2012

This is actually one of the more negative reviews I've read about consulting, does anyone else have some insights into whether or not consulting is worth it?

Mar 7, 2012
helpmepleasethx:

This is actually one of the more negative reviews I've read about consulting, does anyone else have some insights into whether or not consulting is worth it?

For sure. There's a reason why people are at MBB. They could easily go corporate; they obviously do like their jobs enough, to stay.

"Sincerity is an overrated virtue" - Milton Friedman

Mar 7, 2012

There is a lot to like about a post-MBA consulting career. Compensation is good and ramps quickly. Post-MBA, you'll start out in the neighborhood of 150K all in, and by the end of your 3rd year you'll be lookin at 250K+. Not high finance money, but better than almost anything else. Also, generally the people you'll work with are pretty great people. Sure there are some a-holes, especially in the higher ranks, but by and large everyone is collaborative and really cares about doing right by the client and each other. Finally, for all it's faults, most of the work is really interesting for people who like business. Sure you'll spend 6 months on some god awful post-merger integration PMO, but then next case you'll be helping redesign store layouts for a major retailer.

There is also plenty to dislike. This is not a career for people who value there social life or hobbies. You will be away for home for 2-4 days each week. You will work 70+ hours most weeks. You will cancel plans with your significant other and/or friends regularly. You will answer emails from your manager or partner at 11pm on Friday night. And you'll likely gain 25 pounds and acquire at least one stress related health ailment.

Why do all that? Well if career is your number one motivator, then there is not much else that gives you a better launching pad then surviving a few years at MBB. The network you'll build at these places is amazing. By the end of your 2nd year you'll have to create a second email account for all the head hunter email you'll receive. Last, but not least, you'll know what it really means to work. When you come out the other side you'll never believe how short your typical 50 hour work week is, and how you can perform circles around your average corporate coworker while operating at 75% capacity (Not a knock on corporate guys. Plenty of them are really sharp, they just haven't been pushed to the limits like you have).

Really depends what you want out of life and career.

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Mar 7, 2012

+1 on Reset's post above. A fair assessment and from my experience, very accurate.

I had experience in corporate before b school and then MBB. The exposure you get at an MBB is incredible. I am regularly sitting in meetings with senior clients who, in my old job, would be 5-6 levels higher than me. I shit you not.

OP - you need to think through what you want to do and why you want an MBA. Saying you want to go to Ross because you like the Wolverines or Kellogg because you are from Illinois says that you have don't really know what you want. That's fine, but figure that out or at least be able to make something up before you go MBA.

Finally, get more data points. Talk to more people. Don't just rely on the guy above's one year of experience at Deloitte working for a psycho on a govt project talking about how everyone at his company hates McKinsey.

Mar 7, 2012
karl_pilkington:

+1 on Reset's post above. A fair assessment and from my experience, very accurate.

I had experience in corporate before b school and then MBB. The exposure you get at an MBB is incredible. I am regularly sitting in meetings with senior clients who, in my old job, would be 5-6 levels higher than me. I shit you not.

OP - you need to think through what you want to do and why you want an MBA. Saying you want to go to Ross because you like the Wolverines or Kellogg because you are from Illinois says that you have don't really know what you want. That's fine, but figure that out or at least be able to make something up before you go MBA.

Finally, get more data points. Talk to more people. Don't just rely on the guy above's one year of experience at Deloitte working for a psycho on a govt project talking about how everyone at his company hates McKinsey.

On that note, check managementconsulted.com for further data points. People don't hate McKinsey, most people struggle to understand what consultants really do however. I am wrong?

"More Cowbell! I still need more Cowbell!"

Mar 7, 2012

I mean, my job is great in some respects...I just left two days of meetings with the top 20 people in my client's sales organization. No way I'm getting that kind of exposure doing something else at my age. Comp is great, and the brand name I get opens a ton of doors. I was just told they're going to pay for my MBA, and my odds of getting into a top school went up significantly when I joined the firm. If I choose not to go or don't get in this year, I'll be at a post-MBA level probably by the end of the summer.

And sometimes it sucks. I gave up pretty much my entire weekend and worked 95 hours in 7 days to get ready for this week's meetings. It's rare, and the most I've done in a week on this job, but it's not fun when it happens. I have little say about who or what I work on sometimes (limited by firm politics and what gets sold sometimes, even if you're a rockstar).

If I'm doing this when I'm 30, something went seriously fucking wrong...if you can consider making $250K base + $100K bonus at 30, and getting your MBA paid for going seriously wrong.

Mar 7, 2012

A lot of this is available on Google.

But in regards to whether the need to travel decreases, that entirely depends on your specialization/client base.

More often than not though, the need to travel increases - partners can often travel to 2-3 clients per week (who might be in different cities). Unless you're an energy partner in Houston (for example), this usually means a lot of travel.

Best Response
Mar 7, 2012

To @aspiringchimp 's point, travel typically increases as you move up. You get more involved in sales, which requires you to actually go to wherever you are selling. You are also probably managing multiple engagements that you or someone else sold, which means you fly to those as well.

One possible way to avoid this is to land a whale client that generates new projects all the time. Those can be few and far between. You could also be a partner in an office with a ton of local demand for your industry sector. Tech in SF, Finance in NYC, Energy in Houston, cocaine trafficking in Miami, etc.

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Mar 7, 2012

Well

They are highly respected firms that give you a breadth of opportunities, you could exit to a megafund/MM fund, you could work in corp development at a cool tech company, you could stay and become a partner with attractive economics - in short the opportunities available to you are very diverse.

People in business school come from various backgrounds and many see business school as a way to hit the reset button and access new opportunities, so I think by and large it's the breadth of opportunities that is most appealing. In addition however, the alumni of these firms are very well placed and tend to view fellow alumni very positively. A network at an MBB is very valuable.

Also bear in mind that getting into MM PE out of bschool is very hard unless you were MBB, BB or PE before MBA and most people at B school wont have access to those opportunities

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Mar 7, 2012

I hear the reset button thing, but is the marginal benefit of MBB post-MBA for an ex-IB analyst significant? I assume when you work post-MBA you're trying to build a career like make Partner at a consulting shop rather than use it for a stepping stone like in banking.

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Mar 7, 2012
PiperJaffrayChiang:

I hear the reset button thing, but is the marginal benefit of MBB post-MBA for an ex-IB analyst significant? I assume when you work post-MBA you're trying to build a career like make Partner at a consulting shop rather than use it for a stepping stone like in banking.

If you want access to jobs other than finance - YES

Mar 7, 2012

I think it comes down to some people just don't like finance.

Mar 7, 2012

first off it's a really good stepping stone, like others have mentioned. each mbb firm and its "specialty" exits.
other than that, i personally find the type of work very appealing. i wouldn't mind staying there for more than a decade (as opposed to ib where i'd kill myself after 5 years).

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

Mar 7, 2012

I read that book, Ahead of the Curve, about the Harvard MBA. In the book it talks about joining MBB as a way to continue your job search after your MBA. Headhunters will be all over you after a few months...

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Mar 7, 2012
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Mar 7, 2012
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We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria