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From Tier 2 to Top Tier Consulting Firm

Application application process Bain Bain & Company BCG career progression Case Interview Change Career Change Firm Change Firms Change Job Experienced Hire Interview Lateral Hire MBB McKinsey MMB Oliver Wyman Roland Berger strategy& switch Top tier
New answer on Oct 28, 2023
12 Answers
28.1 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 14, 2016

Hellooo, do you have experience with shifting from consulting firms such as Strategy&, ATK, Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman towards MBB? Are your chances better or even worse? When is the best timeframe to take this step? Thanks!

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Anonymous replied on Sep 06, 2017

Hello,

I have known several people who joined a BCG Paris after having work for a few years in other consulting firms (either top 20 or boutique/specialized)
Evaluation criteria during cases interviews will remain roughly the same. Of course they will expect more maturity. They also keep track of previous interviews so they will expect to see significant progress on the weakness they have seen in your first interviews. HR are usually willing to help and explain what went wrong, so be sure to understand that thoroughly. Call back the HR if needed.

However, to make MBBs interested in your profile again in a few years, I would advise you to get experience on the sectors where MBBs have needs.
In BCG Paris, there are a lot of financial services / IT / digital cases. Bain Paris works a lot on M&A…
So, if you acquire experience on insurance or digital in banking while working at your top 20 consulting firm, BCG will be more interested in your future application, than if you work for the public sector for instance.

Also, when recruiting « lateral hires », MBBs tend to divide by 2 the experience you have. So if you work for 2 years in another consulting firm, you will be hired in the same position as someone who worked for 1 year in the MBB. Considering this, I think that 2 or 3 years may be a good time to re-apply, especially if you got promoted in your firm to prove your progress.

Hope this help!

Anne

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Anonymous replied on Sep 14, 2016

Excellent question.

This is really not an easy move, and will be difficult at best. But I have seen it happen among some of my colleagues that went from goetzpartners, arguably a tier-2 firm, to MBB. I think chances are better than for lateral hires from the industry just due to the fact that you already posess the consulting skill-set.

I believe chances are best when you have deep, demonstratable expertise in a very specific field where the Tier 2 firm is on par with MBB - let's say Berger in Germany for automotive.

And you will most likely not manage to get a promotion along with it, but rather move horizontally. While a move from MBB to tier 2 or to another firm in the same tier is often sweetened with a move up in the hierarchy.

Hope that helps,

Elias

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 28, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Sharing my experience having made the switch from Kearney to MBB. 

Are your chances better or even worse?

  • If you are referring to chances of getting in, then I would say that it is not a bad thing to come from a T2 firm as MBB firms have in recent years shown greater appetite and need for lateral hires coming from consulting
  • If you are referring to the ability to succeed on the job, then this depends on various factors including your own abilities/skills, but based on personal experience the transition and adapting is challenging

When is the best timeframe to take this step?

  • Theoretically, you could make the jump anytime, but I see 2 typically good ‘junctures’ to make the switch
    • Junior level (1-3 years in)
      • You are still a generalist and would have the generalist skillset advantage over fresh grad hires
      • You are not giving up much by switching in the early years
    • Senior level (Partner or just before partner)
      • You already have a demonstrated sales record / industry expertise
      • You are able to bring your clientele with you
  • Of course, people do make the switch at manager/principal level, but MBB is often very hesistant of bringing in lateral hires directly into this role and you would definitely need to take a tenure cut if you join

Last but not least, my take on this having made the switch is: if a chance opens up, make the switch. The benefits of MBB are significant :)

 

 

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 19, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

as Vlad said, timing for the application is good, although you will likely join as a new hire. The alternative would be apply with a 2-year experience, in this case they will probably recognize you as an analyst (McK) or associate (BCG) with 1-year seniority; there would be less slots for such position though, as it would not be the traditional entry level one.

From the point of view of HR it is totally normal to receive such applications, however you will have to come out with a good story why you did not apply for MBB after graduation (or if you did and got rejected, how you improved in the meantime).

As Vlad mentioned, referrals can be of substantial help to boost your application; at the following link (second post) you can find some reference on how to structure the referral process:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/open-house-at-bcg-311

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Originally answered question:

Switching companies

Jacopo
Expert
updated an answer on Nov 30, 2017
Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews

Hi,

I agree with what Francesco wrote.

Transitions within consulting firms are quite common and occur in many directions. I know many people who have successfully switched from tier2 to MBB, from tier2 to tier2, and from MBB to tier2. I personally belong to both the last and first categories: I started at Bain, then switched to A.T. Kearney and very recently got an offer from another MBB (which I eventually declined because I decided not be a consultant anymore).

Regarding competition (based on my experience), I had found it easier to get invited to an actual interview as an experienced hire vs. when I was applying to an entry level position: that is probably because after some years in consulting you have proved that you can do the job and, starting from the Senior Consultant/Senior Associate grade, you probably have also developed a specific expertise on a specifi industry/function. Nevertheless, expectations (as Francesco correctly pointed out) were much higher: I was expected to go deeper on the tested skills (especially on structuring the approach, leading independently the case, and communication) and at the same time to show a higher degree of maturity.

A last point: starting from the Senior Consultant/Senior Associate level it is very unlikely that you will have to take the test part.

Cheers,

Jacopo

(edited)

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Vlad
Expert
updated an answer on Sep 18, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

From the interviewer perspective, it is totally fine, since you aim at boosting your career and skills.

From the HR perspective - it depends on the company and the country you are applying in. I know the examples when one year in Tier2 company was enough to apply for McKinsey and Bain, while BCG was looking for more experience.

To be on a safe side I would try to apply using a reference. Thus you will significantly increase your chances to be invited for a test/interview and the consultant who made a reference will earn some money. Of course, it should be someone you know, not just a random person from Linkedin.

Typically if someone makes a reference he has to point out why you are a good fit for the company and something exceptional about you. So make sure that he provides that information

Best,

Vlad

(edited)

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Ray on Sep 18, 2017

Thanks, Vlad. Really appreciate this

(edited)

Guennael
Expert
replied on Sep 21, 2016
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Elias is exactly right - few more data points on this:

1. A classmate of mine spent 2 years at Infosys (tier-2), but started from ground 0 at Strategy& (bottom of tier 1 perhaps?); a year later, he still thought it was definitely worth it - and he is now about to make partner there!

2. While interviewing at BCG (as an industry hire), I was competing against a consultant from Strategy& who wanted to move up the chain; I got in, he didn't

3. My very first BCG partner was an ATK senior principal who came to BCG as a junior principal; years later, he was extremely happy with that move

4. While at BCG, one of my colleague had done 2 or 3 years at a boutique firm earlier, and he was outstanding at BCG, promoted early & all; now a principal

Bottom line: You can switch/move up, but it is no slam dunk and that might mean losing a couple of years of tenure; if you do manage the feat however, odds are you'll be really good and have a successful career in that second company if you are a cultural fit

Good luck,

Guennael -

ex-BCG Dallas

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Originally answered question:

Switching companies

Anonymous E replied on Nov 30, 2017

HI,

Yes, it's possible to swtich. Many have done it within MBB and from Tier 2 to MBB.

Recruiting process differes from company to company and office to office, as you will be treated as an expierenced hire. However, the structure remains the same- case+fit.

Cheers!

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Anonymous replied on Aug 26, 2020

Dear A,

Generally, I would say that you have chances, because you have already have some experience in consulting. And to increase your chances I would recommend you to work on networking and to apply with referrals.

If you need any help, feel free to reach out.

Best,
André

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Anonymous A replied on Sep 15, 2016

You confirmed exactly the assessment of some colleagues. Thank you very much Elias!

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