Strategy consulting in the Middle East is currency presenting unique, I would even say historic, career opportunities. The industry is booming through rapid double-digit growth in consulting fees over the last 3-5 years. Some companies even manage to grow with 30%+ year-on-year. This is reflected in the highest salaries (i.e. 80-120k starting package for business analyst/junior consultant, absolutely tax free, which makes it 2x or even 3x higher nett-wise than in Europe, US or the rest of Asia) and very short promotion cycles. It became again possible to get promoted to the next level in just 12 or even 6 months instead of usual 18-24 months. Some good friends of mine have been recently promoted to partners in just 8 years which is a really great "fast track"!
On top of that, the whole region is undergoing a massive transformation into post-oil era. Governments of KSA, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are investing billions of dollars to modernize their countries in transport, infrastructure, eduction, innovations, hosting mega events like Global Expo 2020 in Dubai or Football Championship in Qatar 2022, etc. They all need a proper advice and depend a lot on the foreign expertise which is brought in the region through the leading strategy consulting firms. Working on this kind of projects is very exciting (I did myself a couple of them) and very fulfilling, because it gives you a feeling of doing something really meaningful and creating an impact in the region
The companies like Kearney (former A. T. Kearney), Roland Berger, BCG, Strategy & (former Booz), Oliver Wymann, Bain and McKinsey have faced unpresented growth in the region and are hungry searching for the very high number of top candidates across hierchies. Here are just some facts about their latest developments just to give a small touch:
- During the past Partner Boot Camp in Barcelona Roland Berger nominated 20+ new partners and senior partners, including 3 new partners in the Middle East. This is probably for the first time in the history of the company that so many people were promoted at once. The company has added 2 new offices in Doha last year and Riyadh in 2018 - with managing director of Qatar was elected as partner just within less than one year. The company's stuff has almost doubled from ~50+ employees in 2017 to ~100 nowadays. Performance bonuses have been really generous.
- Kearney is growing historically fast with 30%+ CAGR (this is absolutely insane!) and struggles to find enough good candidates for their pipeline. Nowadays, more than 30% of firm's global revenues are coming from the Middle East region. Therefore, they are temporary transferring people from other regions to ME in order to stuff adequately their projects and compansate the shortage as well as hiring excessively.
- BCG won the biggest projects in history of consulting in 2017 - Vision 2030 for the goverment of KSA (Saudi Arabia), amounting tremendeous 300m+ USD. The impact of this project is hard to overestimate. More than 400 BCG consultants work together to entirely transform the leading country in the region. Of course, BCG is hiring intensively and transfer consultants from other regions to cope with that demand.
- And the list goes on...
On the other side, I should say that recruiting practices in the region are still not very professional. Response times are really very long - several weeks, sometimes even months. The process is not well structured due to the high number of applicants and very limited HR resources.
However, I strongly believe that due to the all described above reasons (geopardizing market growth, exciting project topics, very lucrative financial prospects and "fast track" promotion cycles) Middle East region is nowadays "the right place to be" for those of you, who are eager to build a great career in consulting. No matter whether you are a university graduate or a young professional with some years of experience.
If I were you again I would definitely recommend to explore these trully historically unique opportunities in the region!
Happy to help you get an offer.