Expert with best answer


100% Recommendation Rate

68 Meetings

324 Q&A Upvotes

USD 249 / Coaching

Head of Staff: CEO office or associate at McK/BCGBain?

Anonymous A asked on Apr 26, 2018 - 5 answers

Hoping for some advice, although I know the answer to my question is very subjective and not simple.

I just became an Associate in the Digital practice of one of the top three consultancies. I really enjoy "Digital" and I feel I have a lot to learn here still - at the same time I am on path to be fast-tacked into Engagement Manager / Project Leader.

Very recently, I have was fortunate enough to have be offered a role called "Head of staff: CEO office". I am not very familiar with these roles, which is also a reason why I ask for advice.
But apparently, the role consists of "following the CEO", attending meetings and advising/briefing the CEO before meetings as well as implementing strategic initiatives as you would in any other corporate firm. The role seems interesting because you basically, at my level, get as much (very) senior exposure as you can - I suppose. At the same time, the firm is a approx. a 1-2 bn dollar firm in revenues with very healthy profits and is owned by a PE firm --> which makes it more interesting I believe. It is also somewhat of a tech firm, which is a hard requirement for me personally.

What would you do? Where do you think you learn the most? Pros and cons as you see it? How do I best evaluate my choice?


5 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
replied on Apr 27, 2018
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
Book a coaching with Hemant

100% Recommendation Rate

68 Meetings

324 Q&A Upvotes

USD 249 / Coaching

There are two types of "Chief of Staff" roles.

  1. the "glorified PA" role: you end up following the CEO/CXO in meetings, define agenda, take notes, arrange a few key events, and perhaps, if you are lucky, represent the CEO in a few key meetings (often silent observer / walk through a script to deliver CEO's message)
  2. the "CEO in training": you end up doing all of the above + you really become the right hand person / CEO-replacement both from a figurative and practical perspective. CEO trusts you with tier-2 / 3 decisions and team trusts your judgment calls in most non-critical decisions. These roles are often stepping stone into CEO roles at the firm. In large firms, they tend to be given to experienced professionals.

Getting into this role, you need to get a lot of clarity who you would be NOW as the chief of staff and what PATH you are on in the future. Both are important. The NOW will likely be a bit crappy, but if it'll soon turn into a lucrative path, it's def worth it.


replied on Apr 26, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

365 Meetings

5,409 Q&A Upvotes

USD 229 / Coaching


It sounds like a great opportunity:

  1. Great role with lots of responsibility
  2. Great visibility in front of the CEO
  3. Great potential of the company (at least as you described it)

But since joining a startup is all about the upside, I would try to assess the startup and it's potential:

  • CEO (founder?) and the team. Did they have any exits before?
  • Current investors and How healthy the cap table is (Previous investors, deal terms, no downrounds, VC investing multiple times, etc).
  • How much equity they propose
  • What is the growth potential (do your research on the business)
  • Next round and exit opportunities


Content Creator
replied on Apr 27, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (2.600+) | 1.100+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 6+ Years Coaching Experience
Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,602 Meetings

2,837 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

Interesting question. I believe it completely depends on where do you see yourself in 3-5 years, how much you want to keep options open vs specialize early and on the actual growth opportunity of the PE owned company.

Manager position plus

  • Keep options open – definitely more exit opportunities here
  • Different type of sector segments
  • With few exceptions, faster career path. Unless you join a startup where you can grow superfast to CXO positions, an investment fund or you are extremely lucky, MBB will let you grow faster compared to exiting at Associate level in an estabilished company.

Chief of staff plus

  • Stronger focus in one industry – assuming it’s interesting for you, could increase your learning curve
  • Possible fast track to more senior position
  • Potentially better work life balance

As Hemant said, both understanding well the kind of job you will do and where it will lead you is critical to understand which could be the best decision.



Anonymous B replied on May 03, 2018


This is very interesting and you sound as though you have a great opportunity.

The only thing i would consider - You mentioned being fast-tracked to EM, if you're getting offered this external position now...imagine in 3 more years? Surely your exit opps will be even greater?

In regards to the first comment here; definitely define the scope of the role. Make sure you will give input and that no, it's not just a glorified PA position.

Good luck and congrats!

Anonymous A replied on Apr 27, 2018

Both: Thank you very much for your answers!

@Vlad, just to make sure. I wouldn't consider the firm a start-up. They were bought for 3-6 bn dollars by the PE firm and they have 2-3000 employees.

Does this change your assessment?

@Hemant, I see. Thanks a lot - I will definitely ask them very clearly about this.

Related BootCamp article(s)

Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases

Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly

Related case(s)

McKinsey Questions

Solved 33.3k times
4.5 5 835
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit interview | Topics: Personal fit

Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion and no one seemed to agree with you. What was your goal when you decided to join university / work / clubs / a sports team? Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do? What do you want to be remembered for and how are you a ... Open whole case

BCG Questions

Solved 22.9k times
4.5 5 201
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit interview | Topics: Personal fit

What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where y ... Open whole case