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BA vs Associate at McKinsey

Anonymous A

Hello, what are the key differences in the roles and responsibilities of BA vs Associate at McKinsey?

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Andrea
Expert
replied on 04/15/2018
I am a former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews conducted and 8 years interviewing experience

BAs (McK) / As (BCG) usually are expected to excel in secondary research and modeling (not only excel nowadays: alteryx, tableau, GeoAnalytics tools are expected to be learned on a case by case basis) and in their ability to build self standing, insightful slides from their analysis; and to have good client management skills (manager level).

Associates (McK) / Consultants (BCG) have a very similar role to their junior counterparts in the sense that they also own modules/workstreams in a case vs the overall case itself. Modules that are usually assigned to an Associate/Consultant require more senior client interaction, have more politically sensitive topics that require ability to influence client actors based on not only data. In my experience I would say that, by their second year into their job, a mature BA/A and an average A/C can be interchangeable in 3/4 (if not more) of modules/workstreams.

Hope this helps,

Andrea

Francesco replied on 04/15/2018
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for coaching sessions (1300+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I would sum up the differences as follows:

Analyst: this is the entry level in consulting, right after graduation or with 1 year of experience somewhere else.

  • Tasks mainly involve working on Excel and Power Point
  • You are not supposed to have real client-facing responsibilities apart for data collection. Sometimes you may interview directly middle managers for that reason.
  • You will work under supervision of a Senior Associate or Engagement Manager

Associate: this is a post-MBA position. You can also reach the position after 3-4 years as Analyst.

  • Task involve presenting/interacting with middle managers (more to build relationship and align on how to proceed with the project), Excel and Power Point presentation and junior resources management
  • You will start to have client-facing responsibilities. Towards the end of the period, you will be challenged as an actual Junior Engagement Manager to start to lead parts of the project and manage junior resources
  • You will work under supervision of an Engagement Manager or Principal

In terms of depth of the analysis and big picture: BAs are expected to solve tasks, while Associates are expected to solve problems. At Associate level you should have a far more clear vision of the overall project big picture and conduct your analysis accordingly.

Best,

Francesco

Vlad replied on 04/15/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Completely agree with the others. I would add several points:

  • An associate is a very short-term role. In a year you'll start leading a project as an Associate and after the first successful project, you'll become a JEM - junior Engagement Manager. After leading several successful projects as a JEM you'll get promoted to an Engagement Manager. There is also some flexibility in timing for these 3 roles
  • The analyst is an entry role, well-defined and with a strict time frame

If you were invited for an interview as an Associate, it probably means that you are an experienced hire. Moreover, the interview guidelines are not that different for these roles.

Best

(edited)

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