The consultancy sector as a whole hired 43% of the class of 2015 at INSEAD, which topped the FT’s 2016 MBA Rankings last month — a rise on 41% the year before and nearly 10% the year before that.
McKinsey, Bain and BCG hired 226 of INSEADs class combined. But the rampant demand for MBA hires goes beyond the top-three. Accenture, Strategy& (PwC) and A.T Kearney are also among the top-seven recruiters, which are all consulting firms, aside from Amazon.
Deloitte and L.E.K Consulting also hired MBAs at the world’s top-ranked business school last year.
“With the acquisition of Booz & Co by PwC to form Strategy&, the acquisition of Monitor by Deloitte, and of Parthenon by EY, we see that all the accounting firms — KPMG included — are significantly growing their advisory practices,” said Stephane Ponce, global consulting lead for INSEAD’s Career Development Centre.
The decades’ long lust for top MBA talent among consultancy firms has reached new highs this past year.
At London Business School the elite trio hired 72 of 401 MBAs. McKinsey hired more than any other company in any industry. Lara Berkowitz, executive director for LBS’ career center, said McKinsey values a strategic mind-set, creative problem solving skills, global experience and multilingualism. “The MBAs hired by McKinsey are going to offices all over the world,” she said.
And at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in the US, McKinsey doubled the number of MBAs it hired in 2015. “Hiring has increased,” said Sheryle Dirks, associate dean for Fuqua’s Career Management Center.
Chicago’s Booth School of Business says the consulting industry hired 4% more of its MBAs last year. At Dartmouth's Tuck School the big three hired 18% of the MBA class.
Salaries are increasingly enticing at top consultancy firms, along with the fast career progression and network connections typically accrued. “Consulting firms have been among our top hirers for 30 years and remain of strong interest to our students,” said Sue Kline, at MIT Sloan’s MBA Career Development Office.
At Virginia’s Darden School, Berkeley-Haas, Wharton, Stanford and Harvard, MBAs working in consulting earned $140,000 average starting salaries in 2015. Median salaries in consulting for INSEAD MBAS are $113,600; $107,000 overall.
INSEAD’s consultancy recruitment eclipsed all other industries including financial services (15%) and even tech (19%), which has become a magnet for MBAs in recent years. Most went to the Asia Pacific region followed by North America, where the elite strategy houses are headquartered.
MBA Careers directors are forecasting further consultancy hiring gains in 2016, as the hunt for talent, which top firms pride themselves on, continues to intensify. “We are cautiously optimistic that the prospects are good,” said Conrad Chua, head of MBA careers at Cambridge Judge Business School in the UK.
Tina Lee, director of the MBA Career Management Center at Hong Kong’s CUHK Business School, said: “Our partners in consulting firms, including the Big Four, remain optimistic [for 2016].”