“We’re seeing a lot of expansion in the digital service lines that consultancy firms offer, and this is reflected in hiring,” said Stephen Pidgeon, associate director for careers at Dartmouth Tuck.
“McKinsey’s Business Technology Office and Deloitte’s tech practice are regular recruiters.”
Digital and technology consulting services have given advisory firms a new-found zest. Digital consulting surged by 27% year-over-year, according to the UK’s Management Consultancies Association. And it’s charging up firms’ recruitment machines.
“We are looking for ‘digital DNA’ — the insights, thinking and approach to be successful in digital consulting,” said Phil Dunmore, head of UK consulting at Cognizant.
“Many companies — and hence potential candidates — talk about having digital expertise, but in most instances their experience is relatively limited.”
Big data is at the heart of the digital rush. “Clients are making more data-driven decisions and putting analytics at the heart of their businesses. So our teams are increasingly bringing data and analytics skills into project analysis and execution,” said Gregor McHardy, managing director for Accenture’s tech consulting practice.
Consultants with business analytics expertise are hot in demand. This is a topic every business school is scrambling to offer. “There is clearly a market demand that a number of schools are looking to fill,” said Jake Cohen, senior associate dean for MIT Sloan’s business analytics degree.
Fierce competition has broken out for consultants who can handle large-scale digital transformations — something virtually every organization is grappling with, and failing at. “Companies are very afraid to be “Uberized”. They do not want to be disintermediated,” said Nicolas Glady, Accenture strategic business analytics chair at ESSEC Business School.
Zoe McLoughlin, head of consulting at London Business School, said: “There are growing opportunities to work in consulting for people interested in digital transformation.” She added that BCG and McKinsey have said there are opportunities for MBAs in digital service lines.
Students familiar with the topic have a competitive advantage, said Stephane Ponce, global consulting careers lead at INSEAD.
Digital transformation has given rise to “unprecedented opportunities for consulting”, said Amit Sugra, a digital consultant and Aston Business School MBA who has worked with Deutsche Bank.
“Digital transformation is a relatively new area,” he said. “Many organizations have started the journey but are still far away from being digitally mature.”
Alongside McKinsey Digital, BCG Digital Ventures, and Bain Digital are the “Big Four” professional services firms, which are muscling into tech advisory.
“With the Big Four firms we are seeing a high demand for our students. They are very active — all of them recruit on campus,” said Laurence Verbiest, associate careers director at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.
KPMG, PwC, EY, and Deloitte have acquired and absorbed a number of specialist digital practices in areas such as data analytics and cyber security.
Digital expertise is sought by such boutique firms, according to Chris Weber, associate director for careers at UCLA Anderson School of Management. “These skills are currently important in the more specialized firms or practice areas, such as BCG Digital Ventures, Booz Digital, and Deloitte Digital,” he said.
This is where the career opportunities are for MBAs, according to several careers advisors — but they do not have as big a presence on campus as the large strategy firms, said Regina Resnick, associate dean for careers at Columbia Business School.