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Advantages of Strategy Consulting in Developed Markets (e.g. UK/US) vs. in Developing Economies (e.g. Ethiopia, Nigeria)

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Anonymous asked on Jul 11, 2019 - 2 answers

Given no personal ties to either economy, what are the advantages of working as a strategy consultant in a developed market like UK/US vs. emerging economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example. How does the nature of the work differ? I would assume in the former (developed economies), consultants are trying to squeeze out an additional few percentages of profitability out of hundred year old companies. I would assume in the latter (developed economies), consultants are working in a Greenfield; they'll probably be figuring out how to put companies on the path to market leader status. This is just my guess, but I'd love to hear from the PrepLounge community. :)

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Udayan
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replied on Jul 11, 2019
Ex McKinsey EM with 5 years of recruiting experience/ received all 3 MBB offers/Real MBB cases
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As someone who has worked in both, here is my perspective

Developed economies (especially US)

  • Consultants in the US are ubiquitous which has its own advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, everyone knows the roles consultants play, they understand the Mon-Thurs travel schedule and the ways of working. On the not so positive side, it leaves less room for building closer relationships as engagements are seen as more transactional and there is tendency to focus on the value you bring as a consultant vs a person
  • Developing economies - Not quite the opposite, but because consulting and the use of consultants is less common, the processes are less defined. This can be both positive and negative. On the negative side, there is often the drive to overdeliver as the cost of consultants is often perceived as exorbitant and there is a need to justify your presence. On the other hand, there is a lot of room to build more meaningful client relationships, more autonomy in pursuing solutions and more chance to work with very senior people even as a 1st year analyst/associate
  • As far as types of projects go, there are some differences which stand out and others which were similar across geographies.
    • In many developed regions, obtaining data is not the most difficult part of the project, and there is a bigger emphasis on analytics including more advanced analysis where possible. In developing economies however there is a bigger focus on data collection which can often require some creative methodologies to get to a usable dataset
    • There is a perception that in developed economies you focus on cost cutting/productivity improvement cases vs in developing countries the focus is only on growth. This is not true, there are plenty of cost cutting projects in emerging economies and plenty of growth projects in the US. Companies need help with these regardless of location so you will not be doing only one type of project
    • What is different however is the scope of project. In the US, projects can involve multiple types of work - for example you could be building an app (yes even as a management consultant), working with advanced statistical techniques and using design theory in your projects because the market is very mature and in order to compete, consulting firms offer more diverse range of solutions. In less mature economies, the work tends to be more focused on the traditional consulting toolkit and less on providing the other services I mentioned.
    • One thing that this doesn’t capture for me personally is level of excitement and ability to be innovative/creative. I felt that in a developing market I could be a lot more risk taking with the output and the problems required more innovative/creative solutions as the processes were much less defined than in the US/Europe. I also found that the team room atmosphere and interactions with clients is a lot less formal which I enjoyed more vs the more formal environment here but that's merely a personal preference.

Hope this helps,

Udayan

Vlad replied on Jul 11, 2019
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Hi,

Several differences:

  • In developing countries, you are very often working directly with CEOs and top management
  • You are doing both strategic and implementation pieces. Very often you are doing massive transformations. i.e. very long projects
  • Many clients are 001 (first time) clients. Often the client is government
  • The salaries in developing countries are usually lower at MBB. There is a broad range of developing countries, but Nigeria has the lowest salaries compared to other offices

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