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Are the different roles at MBB similar?

Bain BCG MBB McKinsey roles
Recent activity on Mar 25, 2019
5 Answers
2.4 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Mar 14, 2019

Hello! I have seen that there are certain roles and seniority levels at the big consulting firms. But I am not sure how comparable they are. Is an Associate Consultant at Bain the same as an Associate at McKinsey or BCG? Do they have the same number of career levels? If not, where are the differences?

Thanks for clarifying!

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replied on Mar 14, 2019
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

you are right - there are certain roles which have the same name but differ slightly. However, the general career progression on the "classical" consulting track is almost identical across the three MBB firms. Here is a structured description of the levels:

Level I

McKinseyBusiness Analyst (BA)


Bain“Associate Consultant” (AC)

Description: First two years out of undergraduate degree.

Level II

McKinsey – “Associate” (ASC)



Description: first post graduate school role (but with roughly 10–30% as direct promotes from Level I across firms).

Level II b

McKinsey – “Junior Engagement Manager” (JEM)

BCG“Senior Consultant” / ”Acting PL”

Bain“Case Team Leader” (CTL)

Description: third year after grad school and bridge to Project Manager role. Not a “formal” promotion at the firms, but definitely a precursor for promotion/designation.

Level III

McKinsey – “Engagement Manager” (EM)

BCG“Project Leader” (PL)


Description: 3–7 years after grad school and responsible for day-to-day oversight of teams and main contact for client project leader. This is a formal promotion and a significant career turning point at either firm. Reaching Level III sort of proves full mastery of the general consulting toolkit in MBB quality, including team management and operational client management.

Level IV

McKinsey – “Associate Partner” (EM)

BCG“Principal” (PL)

Bain“Principal/Senior Manager”

Description: after 2–4 years as a Project Manager (Level III), signals greater focus on relationship management and commercial skills. Time is split across several teams to give content and context guidance. Partner case is built.

Level V

McKinsey – “Partner”



Description: on average 6–8 years after grad school. Highly engineered, formal promotion process involving a committee decision with broad spectrum of Partners from multiple global offices with stringent interviews and performance documentation process.

Level VI

McKinsey – “Senior Partner/Director”

BCG“Senior Partner”

Bain“Senior Partner”

Description: effectively, Partners with tenure. Exact mechanics are a little vague, but generally Partners with 4+ years experience in the role with a consistent track record of client impact, commercial success, and meaningful IP development.

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replied on Mar 14, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Not much to add to Sidi's detailed response obviously, just a couple of small details:

1. Number of years may differ by region. In Europe for example, BCG will typically make you add one 3rd year as Associate before you can get promoted to Consultant whereas the US-based associates are about as likely to move to Consultant directly as they are to being asked to become a 'senior associate' for an extra year

2. Senior Partner in 4 years is definitely the exception, most stay Partner for 7 to 9 years before being promoted or asked to leave. Then again at that level, you know they'll be fine either way :)

3. When the economy is strong, the trajectory tends to be faster, all else being equal

3. Regarless of the job title, all 3 companies have a very similar total comp structure / level. It is rare that you'd be offered roles at different levels in different companies at the same time (though it does happen, for experienced hires especially)

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Guennael on Mar 14, 2019

And I apparently can't count to 4, oops

B replied on Mar 25, 2019
McKinsey cases only

I am confused.. you're saying that there are different career tracks in MBBs?

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Guennael on Mar 25, 2019

That is correct; at a minimum, you have the consulting track and the expert track

replied on Mar 14, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Nope, the names are different. E.g. Associate consultant at Bain - Analyst at Mck. Consultant at Bain, BCG = Associate at McK


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Anthony replied on Mar 14, 2019

McKinsey, Bain, and BCG are renowned giant in the management consulting industry. Perhaps it’s more precise to say that these three firms are an elite club. Within each company, different practice held to operate the business which is same with the banks as well. Some people handle client meeting, selling services, provide support to clients, developing leads, etc. So roles might be different.

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