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McKinsey & Company Doubles MBA Hiring As Consultancies Continue Talent Hunt

Figures underscore boom in hiring by Bain, BCG and Deloitte

Thu Dec 3 2015

Elite consultancy McKinsey & Company doubled the number of MBAs it hired at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business this year — underscoring an increase in recruitment by top strategy houses at several leading schools in 2015.

McKinsey snapped up 24 Fuqua MBAs, up from 12 last year and nearly triple the number it hired in 2013.

McKinsey also increased recruitment at Kellogg School of Management this year, hiring 34. Over five years the firm has taken on 217 Kellogg MBAs. At INSEAD, McKinsey snapped up 120 of the degree holders.

“Hiring has increased,” said Sheryle Dirks, associate dean for Fuqua’s Career Management Center. More than 30% of Fuqua MBAs were hired by consultancies and the school has partnerships with top firms including Bain & Company.

But competition for MBA jobs at top firms is intensifying: “More students from business schools around the world are applying to their opportunities,” Sheryle said.

The data cap a buoyant period of recruitment by advisory groups. Deloitte and Boston Consulting Group hired nearly 40 at Fuqua. Over the past five years Deloitte has hired 145 MBAs from the school alone.

“The market is hot,” said Matthew Guest, head of EMEA digital strategy at Deloitte. He added that there is demand for more senior consultants in particular. “Although I’m taking in a number of people as juniors to train, experience counts,” he said.

At Indiana’s Kelley School, the demand for talent among firms including PwC and EY has pushed consulting salaries to be the juiciest among all sectors, at $135,000.

“We are hiring more senior individuals,” said Radhika Chadwick, a partner at EY who leads digital and strategy services. “There is an emphasis on high-quality MBAs,” she added.  

The top trio of firms McKinsey, Bain, and BCG hired 18% of the MBAs at Tuck School of Business this year. Consultancy groups hired 34% of the entire class. “There is strong demand from students and from recruiters,” said Jonathan Masland, director of Tuck’s Career Development Office.

Phil Dunmore, head of consulting for the UK at Cognizant, said there is demand for MBA degrees — “especially if the MBA is combined with actual consulting and industry experience, a hunger and desire to build a successful consulting career, and a personal engagement style that enables them to successfully build client relationships”.

At Harvard Business School consulting firms also increased recruitment this year, hiring 24% of the MBA cohort. Average salaries rose from $125,000 to $130,000, driven by sectors including consulting, said Kristen Fitzpatrick, Harvard’s director of careers.

Regina Resnick, associate dean for the Career Management Center at Columbia Business School, said: “One cannot ignore the generous base salaries strategic consulting firms offer, especially when a new grad is faced with a high debt load.”

For Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the highest paying salaries earned this year were at consultancy firms, which hired 31% of the class. With bonuses Michigan Ross MBAs are earning as much as $193,000 at top firms.

However Damian Zikakis, who heads careers at Michigan Ross, said consulting is a cyclical industry. “It sort of hit the bottom during crisis and has continued to grow since then,” he said.

At Stanford’s Graduate School of Business this year, hiring by the consulting industry continued to slip and has fallen 4% since 2011. Just 14% of Stanford MBAs are employed by consultancies. This compares with 31% of the class who were hired by the financial services industry.

“Compensation attracts an awful lot of people to finance, particularly private equity and venture capital,” said Maeve Richard, Stanford GSB careers director.

At Wharton School, 26% of MBAs were this year hired by consulting firms, lower than the 37% now working in finance.