Best Consulting Firms to Work for

Are you finishing your MBA soon, looking to join a consulting firm and have your sights on the prestigious top-tier firms? Maybe you are bracing yourself for having to devote the vast majority of your waking hours to office time?

The prestigious firms are known to pay very, very well, but they also demand a lot from their employees.

Many people have been more than happy to make the personal sacrifices to have the career they desire, work with the biggest clients, plus have the support and outstanding resources behind them. Not to mention, the prestige of working for one of the best firms in the game.

Best Consulting Firms to Work for

Does it actually, need to be this way? Perhaps you think it wouldn’t be worth it, and haven’t looked seriously at the top firms for this reason. It could be time to rethink this, as the survey from Vault’s Consulting 50 shows a different picture.

Many of the top consulting firms are realizing that their employees are the cornerstone of the service they offer, and a good culture and better balance give them happier employees. This can draw the top talent to them, even more than having the best compensation on the table.

Chris Weber, associate director for careers at UC LA Anderson School of Management says “with the quality of life issues becoming increasingly important with the millennial generation, firms are proactively discussing how they support work-life balance and perks,” and points to compete for talent with tech companies and investment banks as an influence.

Having said this, the average salary in the management consulting industry for a graduating MBA is still reported to be an impressive $145,000, according to industry website ManagementConsulted.com.

Management consulting firms are key employment destinations for MBAs, with a high proportion of graduates working in the industry. Since this is a long-term trend, there are also a lot of alumni already in the industry on hand to help the next graduates with connections.

Businessbecause.com points out that MBAs are particularly attracted to management consulting as they have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects across diverse industries, which builds expertise and a solid CV.

Additionally, they say, an MBA is the perfect basis for the career, as students typically study diverse ‘functions and sectors’ and an MBA ‘imparts knowledge and expertise through the case method, which mirrors how consultants work with their clients’.

McKinsey has yet again topped the Vault’s Consulting 50,  an annual management and strategy consulting survey, to rank the top North American firms. This is followed by the Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company. Vault considers not only the firm’s reputation but also a variety of other factors in their ranking, including employee satisfaction with the culture, work hours, compensation and promotion policies.

In 2017, almost 9,000 verified active consultants submitted their confidential responses. The survey is in two parts, with the first section where consultants rank other firms on performance and prestige, making up 30% of the weighting.

Next, the consultants are asked to rate their own employers in areas like innovation, diversity, and supervisor relationships. This gives the following areas and weights: Employee Satisfaction (15%), Compensation (15%), Firm Culture (10%), Work-Life Balance (10%), Business Outlook (10%), Promotion Policies (5%), and the Ability to Challenge (5%).

No 1. McKinsey and Company

Best Consulting Firms to Work for

The highly influential McKinsey generated $8.8 billion dollars in revenue in 2016 and has about 25 000 employees across the globe. McKinsey told LinkedIn that “in all 60 countries where we hire, we look for very smart problem solvers,”.

Listed one of the top companies in 2018, LinkedIn called McKinsey ‘a gateway to business stardom’, pointing out it has been a breeding ground for ‘Fortune 500 C-level titles, counting executives like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, and former Boeing CEO James McNerney as alumni’. It is reportedly also quite influential at government level around the world.

Phil Stott from Vault.com notes that McKinsey has “always been the most prestigious firm, “but they’ve been focusing on quality of life in a big way in recent years, and it really came through in this year’s ratings from employees.”

On the Vault survey actually dropped by 0.077 in the Prestige compared to the previous year, but managed to miraculously still come out on top by its gains in employee satisfaction. McKinsey’s overall score is 9,296.

McKinsey received higher scores from employees in 17 of the Vault’s 22 Quality of Work and Life measurement, categories. It managed to score in the top three consulting firms in 15 categories and achieved the top score in six categories: Diversity, Exit Opportunities, Interaction with Clients, Internal Mobility, International Opportunities, and Promotion Policies.

It was in the top 10 in every category except Travel Requirements, which Bain and Boston Consulting also missed out on.

McKinsey’s score highlights

  • Biggest improvements: Diversity (9.382 in 2017 to 9.619 in 2018) and Culture (9.349 to 9.540), Compensation (8.919 to 9.3326),
  • Best performing categories: Exit Opportunities (9.920), Business Outlook (9.868), Selectivity (9.839), Benefits (9.837), and International Opportunities (9.817).

Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Best Consulting Firms to Work for

BCG’s overall score actually rose this year, from 9.171 to 9.218. BCG has also been doing work on improving the quality of life for its consultants and had improvements in work-life balance, employee satisfaction, and culture.

Jason Guggenheim, an Atlanta-based partner told Poets&Quants: “First, we’ve offered greater flexibility around ‘approach to work’ in order to better accommodate personal life and passions.

For example, we have a program called “Time for You” that allows consultants to take an eight-week unpaid leave of absence while keeping most of their benefits. Our staff has used the opportunity to climb mountains, race in regattas, do creative writing, and visit family in distant countries.”

BCG’s score highlights

  • Top score in category: Ability to Challenge (9.877), Benefits (9.859), and Selectivity (9.875).
  • Biggest improvements: Relationships with Supervisors (+.327), Work-Life Balance (+.286), Selectivity (+.199), Employee Satisfaction (+.16), Culture (+.155), and Formal Training (+.125)

Bain & Company

Best Consulting Firms to Work for

Bain & Company, which held top spot last year, dropped to third in this survey – their overall score slid 0.027 of a point to 9.129. Bain’s prestige score also lost some cache, falling by 0.026.

Like all the top firms they are also a great employer – Poets and Quants notes: “among Vault’s 822 verified reviews of Bain, 76.8% of respondents gave the firm a perfect 5-star rating, with 99.1% scoring it with 4 stars or better — higher percentages than either McKinsey or BCG achieved.” They add: “long known as a serious but freewheeling bunch, Bain consultants heaped praise on the company’s culture, particularly its deeply-entrenched mentorship model.” Unsurprisingly, they topped the Firm culture category.

Keith Bevans, head of Global Recruiting at Bain talks of highly energized consultants working on delivering high caliber results that have a real impact on influential companies around the world.  He says: “we support them with heavy investments in their professional development because we need them to become the future leaders in the firm. We realize that not everyone will stay for 20 years, but we invest in everyone as if they will…Our consultants don’t just work at Bain — they thrive at Bain.”

Bain’s score highlights

  • Top score in category: Culture (9.826), and Informal Training (9.781)
  • Biggest improvements: Compensation (+.146) and jumps in 11 other categories

The full top 10 of Vault’s Consulting 50 looks like this:

2018 Rank Firm Name 2018 Score 2017 Rank 2017 Score Change in Rank Change in Score
1 McKinsey & Company 9.296 3 9.157 2 0.139
2 The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. 9.218 2 9.171 0 0.047
3 Bain & Company 9.192 1 9.219 -2 -0.027
4 Deloitte Consulting LLP 8.258 4 8.226 0 0.032
5 Oliver Wyman 7.730 5 7.706 0 0.024
6 The Bridgespan Group 7.689 9 7.553 3 0.136
7 Putnam Associates 7.649 11 7.487 4 0.162
8 The Parthenon Group 7.589 21 7.144 13 0.445
9 L.E.K. Consulting 7.520 8 7.624 -1 -0.104
10 The Brattle Group 7.487 10 7.507 0 -0.

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