Last year alone, McKinsey & Company snapped up 120 INSEAD MBAs.
Stephane Ponce, global consulting lead at INSEAD’s Career Development Centre, expects that trend to continue.
A large number of consultancy firm clients need digital transformations and recruitment of MBAs is strong in the digital space.
Meanwhile, the high consulting firm salaries continue to be a strong lure for business school students. And the sector can open doors to a wide range of careers. At McKinsey for example, more than 300 alumni have become chief executive officers of companies with $1 billion in annual revenue, Stephane says.
What are the key skills consultancy firms are looking for in MBA hires?
Consulting firms are looking for well-rounded candidates who can exhibit the following attributes: strong analytical, quantitative and problem solving skills; but also soft skills, strong presentation and communication skills; intellectual curiosity and mental horsepower.
For consulting firms focused on a specific sector — such as energy, finance, or consumer goods — experience in that sector is highly appreciated.
The big four professional services firms have expanded their advisory practices significantly. Are you seeing demand from these firms, and if so from which?
Yes. 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.
Are you seeing a demand for digital skills among consultancy firms?
This is common to all the consulting firms at the moment. A large number of their clients ask for services related to digital transformation, as they want to find a better way to engage with their customers via the digital medium. Therefore, students familiar with the topic have a competitive advantage.
Does consulting typically offer a wider array of future career options?
Definitely. McKinsey has more than 300 alumni who are CEOs of companies with more than $1 billion [in] revenue; Bain has 20% of its alumni in private equity. The list is very long.
For someone who will stay long enough to be marketable, the ex-consultant will be of high interest for all strategy roles in the large multinationals and SMEs, which may propose a strategy or business development role.
A good number of ex-consultants have also decided to create their own companies. The consulting toolkit helped them assess a market, [and] define a position and the pricing strategy of their products and services. Some have been very successful entrepreneurs.
How much of a lure is compensation at consultancy firms?
Consulting firms give very significant compensation. The base salary is very high by comparison with other sectors and there is [a] clear career path with growing responsibilities.
Each country proposes a different salary based on the local cost of living but overall, consulting firms propose very good compensation for the right candidates.
It is important to note that it is not just the largest firms that can afford top MBA candidates. Some very small firms or specialized firms have developed deep expertise and are very profitable.