Q&A: Consultant at Accenture Strategy

Hi everyone, After speaking with a couple students currently recruiting, I realized that a lot of students could use more information about Accenture Strategy, as it can sometimes seem like a black box to recruits / students. Therefore, I'm willing to answer any and all questions people may have. Overall, I'd say that I've deeply enjoyed my experience at the firm, which is likely driven by the type of work / people I have been able to work with. A bit of information about me. I won't be able to go into too much specifics about my personal background to protect confidentiality: * Current Consultant at Accenture Strategy * Joined out of a Semi-Target UG School (between 2013 - 2015) into the ASADP (Accenture Strategy Analyst Development Program) * Working in a Major US City (Think CHI, NYC, SF) I will try to get to everyone's questions in a relatively prompt fashion, but apologies if I end up getting delayed. Proof: https://imgur.com/a/myaiN

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Comments (48)

Oct 16, 2017 - 9:34pm

I haven't seen personally seen anyone jump in directly from CFM-like position, although I'm sure it has happened. Nonetheless, I have seen folks who came from a corporate development / M&A function. I would recommend either returning to an MBA (if pre-MBA) or toward a more VC / Corp. Dev / Corp. Strategy-like positioning (if post-MBA) to pivot toward consulting.

If you're post-MBA, I'd also consider what you want to get out of consulting. Make sure your rationale for consulting isn't changed by any prior career moves taken to get there

Oct 16, 2017 - 9:07pm

Hi ThrowAway1234, thank you for your AMA. I have the following questions:

  1. I am applying for MSF/MSM/Master Econ programs, all semi/target schools. Do you have any recommendations for program choices? What are some target schools for Kurt Salmon (If that's correct, or I should just say Accenture Strategy)

  2. What websites/materials did you use to prepare for interviews?

  3. Any hard skills that you would recommend ?

Thank you !

Best Response
Oct 16, 2017 - 9:58pm

Answers below --

  1. I would look at the employment reports for each of the schools undergraduate business schools. At Accenture Strategy, at least, you'd be recruiting with the undergraduates rather than the MBA programs. In terms of target schools for Accenture Strategy, they include Cornell, Duke, MIT, Northwestern, Rice, Berkeley, Chicago, UPenn, and UVA (I think we also recruit at Spelman or Morehouse). I believe our Kurt Salmon schools also include Georgia Tech and Stanford, but am not completely sure.

  2. I used Victor Cheng's caseinterview.com, Case in Point, and any materials from my consulting club. I also tried to case with as many alumni as possible when i was in school as they would be able to provide better perspectives.

  3. Our jobs are entirely based on Excel and PowerPoint, but I would also recommend keeping well-informed, especially in business / industry news. That will provide a great level of base knowledge to support you above and beyond what is traditionally expected as a first / second-year.

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Oct 16, 2017 - 9:55pm
  1. IBM is definitely an interesting player; however, I see them as less likely to displace incumbent strategy consulting players (e.g., MBB) and more likely to complement them with superior analytical tools. I know, Accenture, for example, is one of IBM's biggest partners despite being a direct competitor. I believe this is also true at McKinsey

  2. I am planning to go back for my MBA. We sponsor for the M7 schools (and a few others), and I think that could be a good idea for my career . Over the past year or so, I have seen opportunities to exit for corp. strategy in my industry, venture capital, tech start-ups, and other consulting firms. This seems to match the types of exits I've seen others in my year / industry make.

  3. We do have a TMT practice (we call it CMT). I am in a Products industry. This is basically a catch-all including CPG, Retail, Life Sciences, Hospitality / Tourism, Automobiles, etc.

Oct 16, 2017 - 10:05pm

ConsultantThrowAway1234

I had a friend who worked for Accenture, and still is my direct contact regarding employment opportunities, connections, and industry news. I wanted to say thank you for doing the AMA.

How often do you travel?

Are you deeply involved in the technical groups with Accenture Strategy?

Salaries are accurate, as you stated. My friend pulled close to 100k-all in prior to leaving. He did have a good experience before heading over to the technology giants - Google, FB, etc.

Lastly, do you plan on lateraling over to IBD after B-School or commit a few more years?

Thank you!

Oct 16, 2017 - 10:11pm

I travel a pretty low amount -- ~25-50% (although I've had some cool experiences, including a project abroad in East Asia).

I am not particularly involved in the technical groups at Accenture Strategy. My work is primarily in one of my preferred two industry groups.

I don't plan on lateraling over to IBD, as I don't think I'd be all that interested in traditional finance exit options (e.g., AM, HF, etc.). I really enjoy being on the operational / strategic side of things, and I think that is where I'd like to be in the medium / long-term.

Oct 16, 2017 - 10:37pm

I'm surprised no one has asked this already.

1.) Can you comment on what type of projects AS is involved in? What proportion of your work is pure strategy projects as opposed to "strategy" work trying to sell Accenture's IT services? Could you give example?

2.) Is there a direct recruiting path from B School/MBA to Accenture Strategy like the ASADP?

3.) Can you confirm that AS pays for the 2nd year Tuition of MBAs who intern there and agree to come back full time?

Thank you for doing this.

Oct 16, 2017 - 10:59pm

I'm surprised too. My expectation was that most of the questions were going to be around this.

  1. We do a mix of traditional strategy work (think growth strategy / market entry / due diligence etc.), more operational work (think M&A PMI, Cost Reduction), and some upsell-focused work (think selling a strategy portion of a case focused on downstream sales). We also have some non-strategic work that gets coded as strategy (due to the MDs selling the projects).

Speaking from personal experience, I think the ratios are 40% traditional strategy work, 40% operational work, and 20% focused on upselling / non-strategy work. Ironically, I would argue that large program-based work can get more interesting as you become more senior (e.g., above manager), as you can sometimes be driving real, influential change in an industry, particularly if it's a more innovative program and not one of Accenture's traditional IT services.

One key caveat to the above is that ratios probably differ WIDELY across people. I have focused primarily on the traditional strategy work, specifically on new market entry and pre-deal M&A work, but some of my best friends at work have instead focused almost entirely on ZBB / op model. It is largely a factor of what kind of work you want to do and the people you work with.

  1. There is a direct recruiting path under the ASCDP. It is a 1-year industry agnostic program with an expected promotion to Manager in 2 years within an industry / functional group.

  2. I can't confirm the 2nd year tuition reimbursement, although I have heard that is the case.

Oct 17, 2017 - 10:19am
ConsultantThrowAway1234:

- There is a direct recruiting path under the ASCDP. It is a 1-year industry agnostic program with an expected promotion to Manager in 2 years within an industry / functional group.

Sorry, bit confused by what you said there. Can you clarify?

Thanks again.

Oct 16, 2017 - 10:58pm

I actually have. One of the people in my start class jumped from a prestigious F100's leadership program to Accenture. I know she was really interested in her F100's industry, and so the experience ended up being quite useful / fun for her.

I'm assuming that her experience is not unique, and there are others who have made similar jumps.

Oct 17, 2017 - 12:20pm

This is my opinion, so take all of this with a grain of salt --

There is a lot of difference between the MCDP and ASADP internship programs. Specifically, you'd be interning in an ASADP role / project rather than an MCDP role / project. For an internship, the difference ends up being less grand, but is particularly borne out in the fact that ASADP and MCDP interns have different social events, training series, and leadership.

Either way, the projects traditionally end up being 8 - 12 week stints on longer-term client engagements (just to ensure we staff all interns).

Regarding the referral, a non-strat, implementation-based referral won't help much. You'd prefer to have someone from the Strategy side, particularly someone from your on-campus recruiting program.

Oct 17, 2017 - 12:45pm

Thanks for the reply! I had looked into both the MCDP and ASADP program and had more or less drawn the same conclusion, but it's good to have clarification. The ASADP program definitely seems like a great experience, especially as a means to segue into Accenture Strategy after graduation.

Unfortunately I don't go to an Accenture target school (traditionally non-target, but top 50) so campus recruiting is a no-go. In your opinion, is it too late in the cycle to begin hunting down other potential referrals on the strategy side?

Oct 17, 2017 - 8:36pm

Pre-MBA laterals are quite rare -- I actually can't think of any examples of the top of my mind. Feel free to ping me privately, and I can see if I can think of any more helpful advice.

I believe the main hubs for ACN strategy are New York, Boston, SF, Houston, and Chicago.

Oct 17, 2017 - 1:52pm

How important is networking would you say? I'm attempting to email alums from schools, but I've been told reaching out to too many people or asking to be refered to someone else after speaking with a consultant is a turn off.

Similarly, are campus info sessions mandatory? What happens if you happen to have an exam or something during it so you miss out?

Oct 17, 2017 - 8:34pm

It is incredibly important, both for recruiting purposes and to get a better understanding of the firm. When you are reaching out to folks, however, make sure you have a good understanding of the types of work they do, and try to ask really differentiated questions. I would definitely recommend in-depth LinkedIn searches of any work alumni are doing.

When you ask for another contact, just make sure you have a good reason / rationale for needing another contact. If you do, you should be fine asking for more contacts.

Campus info sessions aren't necessary, especially if you happen to have an exam. But, I would definitely network with folks, regardless.

Oct 17, 2017 - 2:15pm

What's the relationship (internally or otherwise) between you and your IT counterparts? Are the salary structures different? Any cross-pollination or movement from one platform/office to the other?

Oct 17, 2017 - 8:29pm

Not sure about salaries.

In terms of IT counterparts, any work I do with them is usually associated with any expertise they may have or understanding whether Accenture can support our clients in implementation. Because Accenture is involved in executing in so many businesses, we often have a wide variety of market and product SMAs who we can use in a wide variety of situations.

In terms of cross-pollination / movement, there is some restriction on moving from one platform to another, but if you can get an MD to support your transition into a new group, it may be possible. I have heard it is more difficult to transfer to Strategy than other groups, though.

Oct 17, 2017 - 8:44pm

Hey thanks for doing this!

I just received an offer from Accenture for the MCDP. Would you be able to tell me about the difference in projects, exits and B-school placement between Strategy and MC at Accenture. Also have you heard of anyone transitioning from MC to Strategy?

Oct 17, 2017 - 8:51pm

Hey, no worries.

I don't have a ton of context into MCDP, but the below should provide some context:

Projects: MCDP projects are typically longer and more implementation / execution focused. I believe Consulting includes both Tech Consulting and traditional Management Consulting work, and therefore the work may be more comparable to that being done at other Big 4 consulting / advisory firms.

Exit opportunities: Not sure whether recruiters view the two differently. I don't have great insight into MCDP exit opps (vs. those in ASADP)

B-School placement: I don't believe there is a formal b-school sponsorship program in MC the same way there exists the Strategy Scholars program in Strategy, but I could be wrong about that.

I know of some Managers and above who've transitioned from MC to Strategy. Generally, the people who I've seen transition have already been doing Strategy work and just moved over to align their title with their work.

Oct 18, 2017 - 2:01pm

Can you expand on the VC and corp strategy exit opps?
Exiting to a respectable VC prior to B school is rare enough as it is, and the firms that have established associate programs seem to almost exclusively recruit from MBB and I've seen the occasional Oliver Wyman/LEK.

On the corp strategy side, in your experience has this been with some of the more blue chip tech firms (google, fb, etc) or run the gamut?

Lastly, have you seen people transition from MCDP to Strategy after their first year? Or typically longer?

Oct 18, 2017 - 3:57pm

Good question --

Regarding VC, I would agree that exiting to VC is still quite rare, but I've noticed that people who did VC work at Accenture were able to get opportunities. The type of funds that I've seen hire Accenture folks include 1) current Accenture clients who are hiring their former consultants and 2) industry-specific funds that are looking for folks who have a distinctive and well-informed opinion on a particular market space.

On the corp. strategy side, I've seen a wide variety of companies, but primarily exits into their industry (e.g., Pharma Consultants into Pharma, Retail Consultants into Retail). I'm sure CMT consultants probably exit to blue chip tech, but I don't have a ton of personal experience.

Regarding transition from MCDP to Strategy, I've never actually seen it done. Most of the people who transitioned from MC to Strategy have been consultants or higher, and it's been largely due to their experience working on strategy projects despite technically being in Strategy.

Let me know if this clears this up.

Oct 18, 2017 - 4:19pm

Thank you, so you would say the MCDP -> Strat transition happens after the 2 year mark?

And the VC exit makes more sense if we're talking about senior level consultants with industry experience, I was referring to the 2 year consulting -> 2 years of VC/Buyside route.

Oct 19, 2017 - 6:06pm

ConsultantThrowAway1234,

Many thanks for this. Your input is much appreciated. My question concerns how you think an APD (advanced professional degree) candidate might approach applying to Accenture Strategy. I am about to complete my PhD in the social sciences and know that MBB generally goes out of its way to hire PhDs much more than do other firms. However, I am also interested in applying to Accenture and wanted to get your input on this:

(1) How commonly does Accenture Strategy regularly hire APDs? And what is the experience like compared to APDs at MBB (besides the obvious salary, perks, hours, exist opportunities, etc.)?
(2) How might an APD candidate work to position themselves strongly and standout in the application process?

Thanks

Oct 25, 2017 - 11:43pm

thanks again for doing this

i was wondering if you could tell us a little about Accenture digital, and how exactly that differs from the strategy division

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please
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