Corporate Strategy or Big 4 Consulting?

big four Corporate Strategy
New answer on Mar 31, 2022
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 29, 2022

Hi everyone, 

I’m a senior consultant at a Big 4 firm in their advisory / consulting division specialising in tech. I’ve been here 2 years and have been relatively content (have found people that value & trust me and willing to propel my career forward).

I recently received a offer to join a F500 company in the financial services industry in their strategy division. It’s a large company where I live, but not as well known globally. As an in-house consultant, I’d be working with ex-MBB, ex-IB, etc.

Currently on the fence about whether I should take up the offer - the end goal is  management consulting / MBB. I’d be missing out on deepening my technology skillsets and faster career progression offered by Big 4. On the other hand, I currently don’t get as much exposure to strategic work as I’d like. I’ve heard people from this team have gone into MBBs and Tier 2 consulting , which is what’s most tempting about the role. I genuinely enjoy consulting and the only reason I am considering the offer is that corporate strategy may give me the leverage to move into management consulting (which is challenging with my current background). In any case, I don’t see myself staying in the new job for more than 2 years.

Should I take the offer or stick around and try my luck at a tier 2 firm instead?

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Matteo
Expert
replied on Mar 29, 2022
McKinsey & Company | Currently offering 1 free coaching session| Happy to PARTNER with you to get an offer from MBB

Hello, 

thanks a lot for the question. :) 

First of all congratulation for your big ambition and determination. They will pay off for sure! 

As far as I understood, your main objective is to obtain a job offer in MBB. I would suggest to remain in Big 4 firm and actively start to apply for strategic consulting roles in boutique or MBB

Let's evaluate together the 2 potential scenarios that you may have ahead: 

1) Accept the offer to join a F500 company

  • Pros: 1) Experience in corporate strategy, useful to make your profile better aligned to strategic roles 2) Better understanding if strategic roles can be interesting for you 3) Network with people previously working in MBB
  • Cons: 1) Low motivation for the job since you already know that you will leave it 2) Difference between corporate strategy and strategic consulting (e.g., more practical, no client facing, working for same “client”)  3) Higher difficulty to learn MBB consulting job at a more senior level when you will join 4) Leave the consulting world (even if not strategic consulting) that you like 5) Experience in strategic consulting is best suited at the beginning of your career

2) Remain in Big 4 firm and actively start to apply for strategic consulting roles in boutiques or MBB (change within maximum 1 year)

  • Pros: 1) Work in a motivating environment and acquire more experience in tech 2) Round profile and possibility to enter as a tech specialist in strategic consulting 3) Time to optimise preparation for business cases 4) MBB generally have interests for profiles with different backgrounds but with some core skills (e.g., problem solving, determination, clear communication, ownership)
  • Cons: 1) Current profile not so much aligned to strategic consulting (not big issue) 

As you can see I can find more Cons than Pros in Scenario 1. Even if It would have been better to start since the beginning with a strategic role, at the present moment I would advice the second option. 

In particular, I would suggest to take the following 4 key steps before applying for MBB: 

  • Review your CV underlining the core competences in your past projects that MBB are looking for
  • Prepare for strategic consulting interviews with a strong focus on business cases
  • Create some network with people already working (LinkedIn is extremely useful) 
  • Apply before to your second options (i.e., boutiques) in order to get used to the strategic consulting interview format

To conclude, choosing option 2 gives you greater flexibility. You can get first specific feedbacks from MBB or boutiques. In case they will told you that your profile is not aligned given your work experience (I don't think so), you can better tailor it accordingly. 

Do not hesitate to reach out me in case of further questions! I am currently offering a free coaching session.  

Good luck!

Matteo

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Andi
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Mar 29, 2022
BCG interviewer (>175 candidates) |96% coaching success rate, if 3+ sessions | Coached 50+ candidates to MBB offers

Hi there, 

Based on what you shared, in your shoes, I'd probably forego the offer (initial view).

Given your end goal being an MBB role and your current experience with a Big 4 also in consulting, I don't see a reason why you cannot take a straight attempt into management consulting.

Your concern about relevant experience is fair, but it seems your shows good brand name(s) and experience at least adjacent to management consulting - that's a good starting point. To alleviate your concern, it might be a matter of just positioning your resume the right way, rather than having to inject an additional career step. There are countless examples of candidates going straight from (various) Big 4 roles into MBB. Now that MBB firms (and select Tier 2s) are rapidly increasing their Tech capabilities & offerings, it has become even common over the last few years.  

Above is only a hypothesis based on initial observation, of course. Feel free to share your CV via PM - would be happy to take a look and give more concrete & tailored advice.

Regards, Andi

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 30, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Ultimately you do need to determine your core values/needs, and from there think through this offer.

Now, given you say “the only reason I am considering the offer is to move into management consulting”, that does lean me towards you not taking the offer.

If you are switching only for the goal of being somewhere else in 2 years, not only is that a recipe for unhappiness and disappointment, but it's also the wrong switch (MBA for example would be a far more direct path).

I don't see this switch increasing your odds more than your current role. Get a promotion, build our your expertise, get more consulting-related exposure, and network your way into MBB from your current role!

Good luck with the decision!

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Moritz
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 31, 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

Hi there,

I always discourage people from strategizing in this fashion. If your goal is MBB, go for it now!

Don't make choices now based on what may be in the future, and worst of all, sacrifice the present in the process.

It's just my opinion based on seeing people get miserable too many times by treating their life like a chess game…

Hope you make the right decision for you right now! Best of luck!

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Pedro
Expert
updated an answer on Mar 30, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

You are likely to have an experience (learning, peers, type projects) closer to MBB if you go to the Corporate Strategy role.

However, I don't really advise on taking a job you don't want to maybe later apply to a job you want. Taking a job that doesn't excite you is rarely a good option. 

In any case, a Corporate Strategy role should be at par with a Big4 role in order to get an interview at MBB. I don't think there's much value add in that transition.

Why don't you just apply to the job you actually want? What are you waiting for?

(edited)

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Mar 29, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi there, 

It does sound like a good way to make a transition to MBB smoother, though I think it's not necessary. If you've already worked in Big4 within the advisory branch that's more than enough to prove that you have a consulting background and skills. There's little to lose in taking this offer and learning more about strategy, though I wouldn't see it as a pre-requisite for transitioning into MBB. 

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Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 29, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience
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Matteo gave the best answer

Matteo

McKinsey & Company | Currently offering 1 free coaching session| Happy to PARTNER with you to get an offer from MBB
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