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Business Of Consulting: EY, Deloitte, KPMG Among Firms Desperate For B-School Hires

Leading global consultancies continue hunt for talent at top business schools.

Fri Aug 7 2015

The world’s top management consultancy firms continue to hunt for talent at leading global business schools.

Some of the biggest advisory groups have told BusinessBecause that there is still rampant demand for MBA educated consultants, including KPMG, Deloitte and A.T Kearney.

In interviews with this publication EY, Accenture and Cognizant, have also said that they place significant value on business school hires.

“There is an emphasis on high quality MBAs,” says Radhika Chadwick, EY partner who leads digital and strategy services. But the standing of business school may be of more importance. “Brand recognition will never go away: there is always a thinking that people who go into those programs tend to be top notch,” she says.

Consulting employment increased by 12% in the UK alone last year, according to the Management Consultancies Association, and business schools including Columbia, INSEAD and UCLA Anderson say they see fervent demand in particular areas of the industry.

“There will always be a need for the MBA profile,” says Peter Hewlett, principal at A.T. Kearney, a top global firm with offices in more than 40 nations. The skills learned on an MBA, in addition to previous work experience, adds value to the company, he says.

Much of the demand is coming from the growth of digital service lines such as mobile, big data and cloud computing. The number of digital and technology consultants rose by 26% in the UK last year.

Matthew Guest, head of Deloitte’s digital strategy practice in EMEA, says demand for technology services is coming from every sector, spurred by the shift to a digital economy.

He says there is “definitely a demand” for more senior hires. “I have MBAs on my team,” he says, but adds: “MBA is a qualification. It’s not something I always look for or do not look for.”

At the centre of this growth in employment across digital are consultants with expertise in analytics.

“Increasingly, we see clients make more data-driven decisions and putting analytics at the heart of their businesses,” says Gregor McHardy, consulting lead for communications, media and technology at Accenture UK and Ireland. “Our teams are increasingly bringing data and analytics skills into project analysis and execution.”

He adds that an MBA provides individuals with a high degree of the business acumen that Accenture looks for in new recruits.

“We have a huge demand at Accenture for talented consultants and it can be a challenge to find high calibre talent,” he says. “As such, we work closely with a number of business schools on a global basis to identify top talent.”

Mazhar Hussain, KPMG director and a leader for firm’s digital and analytics offering, says there is a huge need to bring in analytics expertise.

“Like any industry that is building or growing, it [digital] needs every level of talent coming in and helping it flourish,” he says.

Phil Dunmore, head of consulting for the UK at Cognizant, says that every client is now investing in digital. “The need for clients to change to be competitive in the digital arena is now crucial.”

The firm is looking for direct, relevant experience combined with “digital DNA”. Phil says there is demand for MBAs at Cognizant — “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”.

There are also career opportunities at smaller, boutique firms specializing in digital. “We have many students that are interested in small boutique consulting firms,” says Laurence Verbiest, associate director for careers at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Stephen Pidgeon, associate director for career development at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, points to smaller firms such as Monitor and Axia, although aquired by larger consultancies, as those which are recruiting MBA students.

“These companies are competing more and more with the ‘Big Three’ —McKinsey, Bain and BCG,” he says.