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MBB Consulting | What’s It Like Working At McKinsey, Bain And BCG?

Wondering what the culture is like at the MBB consulting firms? Current Big Three consultants reveal what it’s like working at McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group

Wed May 29 2024

If consulting is the career path you’re planning to embark on after you graduate from business school, you’ve probably already heard of the MBB consulting firms. 

McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group—also referred to as the Big Three—are renowned recruiters of business school graduates across the globe, ranking among the companies that hire the most MBAs each year.  

They offer high salaries, strong career prospects, and levels of prestige that can open up a wealth of opportunities as you progress in your career. 

In 2024, starting salaries for MBA graduates who land consulting roles with one of the Big Three firms typically exceed $190,000. For those who enter the firms after completing a Masters degree, salaries average at more than $110,000. 

It’s a top career path for myriad other reasons, with opportunities to work on challenging projects for high profile clients and make a real impact. 

But, if you’re interested in MBB consulting careers, it’s a good idea to find out as much as you can about what working at McKinsey, Bain, or BCG is actually like. How do insiders feel about the culture? What’s the work-life balance like? How do the team dynamics work?

To find out the answers, BusinessBecause spoke with a number of business school graduates who have landed jobs with the MBB consulting firms since graduating from business school.

Here’s what they said. 

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Working for McKinsey involves…

Being prepared to work long hours 


“If the client really needs something done as soon as possible, and we're running against the clock, then we've had days when we've had to work till about two in the morning.

“There are some days when we're working till about seven or eight in the evening, if there isn't a lot of work to be done that day. But there are also some days when you're working till late. 

“It's always wise to expect a long workday when you're in consulting. It's not your typical nine to five.” 

Nishant Dhanendra, former associate, McKinsey & Company (MBA, Northwestern Kellogg School of Business)

A lot of collaboration 


“I've been very pleasantly surprised by how supportive it feels, both with peers as well as with mentors within the firm. I think people recognise that it has to be a team effort to complete the massive amount of work that we want to get done. 

“While it’s competitive to get into, it doesn't feel as competitive once you’re inside, at least that’s been my experience. For being such a hard working culture, it also feels very mutually supportive.” 

Rachel Enright, engagement manager, McKinsey & Company (MBA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business)

Being part of a high performance culture 

"You're working with people who work hard, who care, and who tend to be very, very bright. That's exciting in a lot of ways, and great to learn from. 

"Learning from really capable people is, I think, hugely valuable and I definitely take that away as a highlight of this career." 

Rachel Enright, engagement manager, McKinsey 

Working for Bain involves…

Working on a diverse range of projects 


“I've worked [on projects] in so many industries already in my two years, and I know the ones that I like and then the ones that I don't like. So I think that variety is a real benefit.

“The benefit of working as a consultant is that you’re exposed to all these nascent and emerging topics which you can read about and become a thought leader in that space very quickly.

“That learning journey always continues, no matter if you make partner.” 

Tobi Ogunsanya, consultant, Bain & Company (MBA, London Business School) 

Attending a lot of meetings


“Throughout the day, I'll have scattered meetings, whether that be with folks who are working on my work stream with me, or check-ins with the manager of the project. 

“I also take some time to talk to colleagues or connect with folks across different offices for coffee chats.” 

Rachel Sze, consultant, Bain & Company (MBA, University of Michigan Ross School of Business)

Opportunities to follow your passions

"I'm focused on trying to advance the black junior consultants, we call it Blacks at Bain (BABs). Essentially through my work at Bain I get external opportunities where I can come with the Bain brand and advance things which I am passionate about. 

"To champion the industry and really try to drive retention and recruitment of black consultants or black students in the UK is something which is important to me and having the Bain brand allows me to do that." 

Tobi Ogunsanya, consultant, Bain

Working for BCG involves… 

Working fast and working hard 


“One of the things that you always want to do is find the best solution for your client. So there's a lot of intellectual challenges you're facing.

“I think we become very effective and fast, we learn how to prioritize and deprioritize tasks in order to have the highest impact because there are just so many things you could do within your day.” 

Sarah Mertens, project leader, Boston Consulting Group (MBA, University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business)

The chance to make an impact 

“Especially with the MBBs, you're normally working with the leading companies within your country. So that is really cool. 

“It's a very exciting environment to be in because you really are shaping the future of the large corporations that we're working with in a lot of cases. So it's a very fast paced, rewarding, but also challenging environment.”

Sarah Mertens, project leader, Boston Consulting Group

Extensive training opportunities 

"There's so much different training to choose from. One of the coolest things about being a consultant is really the personal development. 

"There are training platforms where you can do individual training online, you also have the opportunity at a certain level to have a personal coach who can be an advisor to you or coach you on specific topics, then at each career level you have mandatory training that you need to accomplish. 

"If you're affiliated with a certain topic or really interested in a certain topic—like for me I am part of the climate and sustainability practice—there are a lot of trainings and classes that you can take specifically on that topic."

Sarah Mertens, project leader, Boston Consulting Group

For more info about what it's like to work in consulting, the perks and salaries you could gain, and tips on how to successfully become a management consultant, download our BusinessBecause Consulting Guide