What would you say are the main differences between working for an inhouse consulting firm and a strategy consulting firm assuming they are of similar size and reputation?
Difference between working at inhouse and strategy consultancy
I agree with Guennael. A couple of more elements of distinction in the comparison between in-house and strategy consultancy at same level of reputation/size are the following:
- Industry/Projects/Client Focus - In in-house consulting you will likely focus on a specific sector and practice – the one of your mother company. In strategy consulting you will normally see different industries, projects and clients. If you are already sure about you ideal industry, the first option may be the best alternative. If you are not sure yet about your favourite sector, the second may be better.
- Internal career progression – In strategy consulting partners may actually own part of the company; in in-house consulting the senior team may still be represented by employees without the benefit of a partnership.
- Exit opportunities – Given the same reputation and size, strategy consulting firms normally offer broader opportunities, as you would see more industries and, in particular, more clients. On the other hand, in-house consultancies may allow a smoother move to other areas inside the company.
In house strategy shops are typically lead and heavily staffed by former MBB consultants. The type of work will be fairly similar but specific to your own company obviously, and assignments may last a little longer (that's debatable, there are probably exceptions). On the positive side, less travel usually. On the negative side, less training and not quite as prestigious. Both offer very good career perspectives.
There are obviously exceptions, but the below is the framework I would use:
- If you get MBB, join MBB
- If you only get a boutique or 2nd tier... I'd suggest you join consulting anyway, but not a slam dunk - especially if that internal strat shop is in the industry you want anyway
- If your choice is between internal consulting and "regulat" work, take the internal consulting.
Hope this helps