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BCG vs. McKinsey - who wins?

BCG corporate culture International MBB McKinsey project work life balance
New answer on Oct 11, 2023
9 Answers
51.0 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Dec 27, 2017

Who would you say "wins" regarding

  • projects,
  • international opportunities,
  • corporate culture (company parties, activities, general environment),
  • work-life-balance?

I recently read an interesting discussion on this and would love to hear your point of view.

  • Plus: I've heard that there's a stereoptype that BCG is more creative and "cool" compared to McK which has a more competitive environment. Do you agree?

I'm aware that this is a very subjective question, but nontheless I would appreciate your opinions and insights! Thanks in advance :)

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Best answer
replied on Dec 27, 2017


I don't think you will be able to find absolute answers for any of your questions. However, would like to share my personal view (based on experience) on a few of these topics

  • Both firms are really global, with offices all around the world and lot of opportunities to undertake international projects if you want
  • From personal experience, work-life balance tends to be a more of a country-specific standard rather than McKinsey vs. BCG (e.g., had a great lifestyle in McK Australia; Portugal, Spain or Italy are very well known for theyr quite aggressve lifestyles for both McK and BCG)
  • Despite the "generalized perception" on McKinsey environment, which is often described as competitive and though to work on, all my experience stands for the opposite: super friendly and cooperative environment, where you are really encouraged to ask for help from all tenure colleagues (from the youngest Analyst to the most experienced Senior Partner) and where the success of everyone is tightly linked to each other
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joshie on Oct 30, 2019

genuinely curious - what does "aggressive lifestyle" mean?

Anonymous replied on Jan 14, 2018

Hi there

Thought I would add the BCG perspective in addition to Bruno's perspective (totally agreed with his point 1 and 2 btw).

BCG, from my personal experience

- Fantastic set of cases - all complex, CEO agenda stuff. BCG is currently investing heavily in digital with its new BCG Digital Ventures offering. I worked with BCG DV for 70% of my time at BCG, their projects are typically about building new products or new businesses for clients - super interesting stuff and a very different consulting experience to typical BCG cases for sure.

- International opportunity - yes, plenty. Although tends to be "in region", e.g., if you were in Australia, there are plenty of opportunities around Asia Pacific, and less so for North America.

- Culture - very strong, very people oriented. There is definitely a "BCG way of thinking" and you find that consistency across offices, which makes the culture very strong.

- Work/life balance - as with all top tier, high performance environments, you cannot expect at 9-5 job. I've had periods of relaxed pace and also periods of intensity. There are specific BCG programs to drive better balance (e.g., PTO), which you can find a lot of public info about. I found these programs received a lot of leadership attention when I was at BCG and sustainability was taken seriously.

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joshie on Oct 30, 2019

what is the 'BCG way of thinking'?

replied on Mar 18, 2023
PL-level BCG experience (6 years)|Interviewer at BCG| 6/6 personal + 95%+ candidates offer success rate

Hi there,

I am afraid you need to find the answer yourself, specifically 

  1. investing Time in speaking w people in your target office and geo - those two Variables will shape your mbb experience as much as the “general” culture of the 2 firms 
  2. reflecting on 1) vs your personality, goals etc and making a decision based on gut and logic on the “best fit”

nevertheless, allow me some personal perspective after 6 years in bcg and multiple friend at mck (europe perspective vs us, apac)

1. projects : mostly similar caliber projects but McKinsey wins in their stronghold accounts in terms of BoD level work or institutional work. Also this is practice / geo dependent (e g if mck perceived best in automotive in country x due to mdp z > higher caliber projects there vs bcg)

2. international oppts: global staffing models helps you have international experience even if you do not want it and more automatically, but occasions are plentiful in any bcg system you will join 

3) work-life balance: average hours are geo and project dependent - huge spread - anyway in Europe in most cases you will do 9 am - 10 + pm mon-thu / 9 am - 7 pm friday - at least 1 h weekend work, excluding nordics and Amsterdam office, if you want to progress and not get transitioned out

final remarks: you cannot go wrong with either. it is a life-changing experience imo with only upsides minus you need to sacrifice your time and other “aspects” of your life to a certain extent (gets better over time when you learn how to enforce boundaries) 

hope it helps



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Content Creator
replied on Nov 26, 2022
Limited Availability | BCG Expert | Middle East Expert | 100+ Mocks Delivered | IESE & NYU MBA | Ex-KPMG Dxb Consultant


This honestly depends a lot per geographical location.

However, some pointers are below:

1- BCG is more collaborative when it comes to finding a client solution

2- BCG is more bottom up, McKinsey is top down when it comes to dealing with client members i.e. BCG speaks to lower and middle managers too to design a more actionable solution

3- BCG pays more than McKinsey 

All the best!


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Content Creator
replied on Nov 27, 2020
#1 MBB Coach(Placed 750+ in MBBs & 1250+ in Tier2)| The Only 360 coach(Ex-McKinsey + Certified Coach + Active recruiter)

I would say both do, the perception varies from one person to another, all you will see is a mix of different opinions from people with their own path, backgrounds, beliefs and so on, so you've answered it yourself.
Both BCG and McKinsey are global and offer a wide range of opportunities.
As for the key points like projects, their website would tell you the basics.


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Content Creator
replied on Oct 11, 2023
ex Jr. Partner McKinsey |Senior Interviewer| Real Feedback & Free Homework between sessions|Harvard Coach|10+ Experience

McK of course ;-)).. 

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Anonymous replied on Oct 30, 2022


Most of the points you raise are vary by region/ country and personal perception.

I would have coffee chats with people from both firms and base your opinion on that.

Hopefully this helps!


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Anonymous B replied on Oct 26, 2019

Both firms are a lot more similar than different. People like talking about the difference as it is more interesting but I would say 90% is same. Very smart people in both doing similar work and working long hours.

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Sep 05, 2021
Former BCG | Case author for efellows book | Experience in 6 consultancies (Stern Stewart, Capgemini, KPMG, VW Con., Hor


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