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Career change to consulting, what are my options?

career change R&D
New answer on Feb 01, 2023
5 Answers
2.9 k Views
Dennis asked on Jan 09, 2020

Hi guys,

I've been considering about a career change to consulting for awhile, and found this platform to be perfect to ask the next steps and how I should prepare myself for the options. I appreciate any feedback or comments!

Background: Graduated in one of top 10 universities in US with degree in biomedical engineering (not so great GPA). Worked mainly in personal care & household cpg, as both R&D formulation scientist and product development/project manager, with most recent gig at a global cpg brand. (I wasn't able to find anyone with similar background neither here nor reddit) Total YOE is a bit over 4 years.

tl;dr - working in R&D, want to transition to management consulting without any background in consulting or business. 3 options I think are: try to join MBB, join T2 or T3 and transition to MBB, get an MBA

I've recently realized that I no longer want to work in R&D anymore as we're always considered the bottom politically compared to marketing/sales and not recognized on the products that we formulate & produce. The ceiling for promotion potential is pretty low compared to other industries (almost all c-level positions are occupied by marketing or finance) and the pay potential is not that great either (sub 6 figures for people close to 10 YOE). I really love the job for its science-driven nature and being an SME in what I do, but I don't think it's worth compared to the negatives personally.

I fell in love with consulting due to 2 reasons: I like project managing and working cross-functionally to solve complex issues to ensure successful launches. Also, through investing, I became familiar with financial concepts and I really like the aspect of driving business growth/ development holistically, which has greater impact than R&D, which only deals with front side development. I don't mind long hours as I already voluntarily work OT & weekends

Since it is January, I think it's a perfect time for preparing for transition and I thought my options would be:

1. Try networking & finding a job in MBB as experienced hire - the best choice since I wouldn't be spending money & time on MBA but also the most infeasible considering my background (non-finance/business, non-engineering, non-pharma/healthcare, not PhD/MD/MS) and lack of experience in consulting or leadership.

2. Try networking & finding in T2 or T3 and transitioning to MBB - this option is great as well but after browsing on reddit for a while, it seems that it's almost impossible unless you really have a network pushing for you

3. Study for GMAT now and get into M7 MBA program in 2021 - most realistic option but most costly due to tuition debt + living expense + 2 years of unearned wages. Also, no guarantee that I'll make it into M7 nor MBB post graduation

In your experience and thoughts, what would be the best option right now? Study for case exams and start networking or study for GMAT and focus on applications? Also, am I even eligible for healthcare & life sciences consulting than MBB despite the lack of experience in healthcare/pharma?

Any advice is greatly appreciated, thank you for reading this long post!


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Content Creator
replied on Feb 01, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Here are my toughts:

  1. Yes, could be, particularly in big offices in the US -where they do more pharma than in european offices, for instance-. However, bear in mind that being hired as someone experienced and not entry-level is difficult -in the sense of it being really demanding-. However, nothing that cannot be done with good prep, of course.
  2. Again, yes, could be. However, I believe you should think at 1&2 as a unique strategy, since for both you need to follow the exact same SOP:
    1. Write powerful CL & CVs
    2. Prep for consulting interviews: FIT & casing
    3. Building a network to increase your chances.
  3. For sure MBA is a great option, but the downsides are also huge:
    1. What if you don´t get in? You would have wasted a lot of time in prep & GMAT -who, believe me, it´s a huge pain-.
    2. What if you get in, but then you don´t get into consulting? Could be too
    3. Think of the amount of money it costs + the money you would not be earning for two years. Is that really worth it for a "maybe"?

This said, I would prep for the 1&2 approach.

Best of luck!



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Dennis on Jan 13, 2020

Hi Clara, thank you for the answer and I apologize for the late reply! For option 1, you've mentioned applying to healthcare/pharma in US offices. However, I am in CPG R&D background more than healthcare/lifesciences or pharma background which means I lack knowledge in FDA or general Pharma development phase gates, etc. Am I still eligible to apply for those as long as I do some background research? Also for option 2, what is your opinion from transitioning from T2 to MBB? On reddit, I've never seen someone say it'd be possible but people seem to disagree on PrepLounge. Thank you!

Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello Dennis,

I will try to give you my opinion briefly:

  1. Really difficult. You could find an opportunity in specific offices because big firms are now trying to expand the Healthcare practice, but without experience and not being fresh graduated the odds are low. Even if you would have the opportunity, you have to consider that without consulting experience you will start as "experienced entry level". During my experience I had a colleague that studied medicine and after 5 years of specialization (mandatory in Italy) was hired as "Senior associate"
  2. It could be more feasible than 1. Entry the tier-2 to gain experience and move later to tier-1 is a good strategy. Btw you have always to consider the point mentioned before: they will not hire you as a consultant with 4 years of experience.
  3. With a top MBA you will have great chances of joining an MBB.

To sum up, I would try to write an effective CV and cover letter, to network and send my applications everywhere asap. In the meanwhile I would study for case interviews, you can have the first round after 1/2 months.
If it doesn't work you will have the time to prepare the GMAT (you will need between 1 and 2 months) and apply for an MBA.

Hope it helps,

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Dennis on Jan 13, 2020

Hi Luca, thank you for your answer and I apologize for the late reply! For option 1, I have the same question as above (Clara) as I am not from a healthcare/pharma background. Will the consulting firms be willing to hire & train someone with no specific background, other than working in R&D and being science based? Also, as long as I break in into the consulting industry, I don't mind which level I would go into, as going at any level is better than spending time & money on an MBA for now. If I were to apply for lower level positions, would I have a higher chance? For option 2, what is your opinion from transitioning from T2 to MBB? Finally, is there anything I can do to increase my chances other than case/FIT prep? I am thinking about doing a side gig related to start up but not sure how much of that experience will actually increase my value. Thank you!

Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi Dennis,
if your unique goal is consulting I would not spend time, effort and money in an MBA program. I think you have a good profile for applying in consulting and I recommend MBB and tier2. Just a couple of tips:
- GPA is not needed in your CV, since what really matters is your last working experience.
- an easier way for your profile to enter in MBB is applying for operation or implementation practices.
- you do not have to choose now between MBB or tier2. I would apply to every firms and than let's see.

Hope it helps,

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Dennis on Jan 13, 2020

Hi Antonello, thank you for the reply and I apologize for the late response. It's interesting how different it is here than reddit r/consulting because almost any question that's asked there always end up with a "get an MBA" reply haha. Regarding your advice, yes I will definitely try and apply to all the firms that I can. I know prospective graduates have a recruitment period, but are you aware of any "unspoken" recruitment window regarding experienced hires? Also, I've heard that if you join operations or implementation, it's almost near impossible to switch over to general management - is this true? And lastly, I personally think my profile is very lackluster due to unrelated background & lack of experience. What realistic ways are there to boost my CV (other than case/FIT preparation)? I am thinking of engaging in a startup just as a side project but not sure how relevant or useful that would be. Thank you!

replied on Jan 10, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


  1. Definitely worth trying - you are not losing anything
  2. Easy option, should try as well
  3. It's hard. If non Top 3 MBA- chances of getting a consulting offer are still low. You need a lot of effort and money to apply.

Thus I recommend consulting prep, applying to MBB / BIg4 / Tier 2. If it doesn't work - do an MBA


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Dennis on Jan 13, 2020

Hi Vlad, I really appreciate your reply, and sorry for the late response! I have similar questions as the people above and would love your input. For option 1, is there realistically any chance that a non-MS/PhD/MD but with engineering degree & science background have any chance at MBB without any prior consulting experience? What ways would there be to increase my value other than Case/FIT prep? I am thinking of engaging in a startup just as a side project but not sure how relevant or useful that would be. Also for option 2, what is your opinion on transferring from T2 to MBB, as I've heard that it's extremely rare or impossible. Thank you!

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