How hard is it to make it to manager at consulting firms? Around what %?

engagement manager
New answer on Oct 17, 2023
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 16, 2020

How hard is it to make it to manager at consulting firms? Around what % can make it? (excluding those who leave the firm at will)

What does it take to move from consultant (post-MBA) to manager?

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 16, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

If you come in as a consultant, it will take approximately 2 years. Hard to say exact % because a lot of people simply leave by choice! They only intended to stay a short period of time, or they realize it's not for them. If you truly want it, and you're committed to making it to manager, your odds are actually quite high.

Now, how to get there?

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First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/

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Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

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Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

Earn Respect: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/as-a-new-joiner-how-to-earn-seniors-respect-instead-of-being-too-obedient-7006

Navigate Effectively through politics: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-navigate-through-office-politics-as-a-new-joiner-7016

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Fourth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 17, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

This is an interesting question. Like others have mentioned, hard statistics on this are not easily found.

Based on personal experience, I'd say 20-40% of a cohort will make it to Manager. The rest will leave, whether counselled out or intentionally.

What does it take? Here are some thoughts based on my own experience

  1. You have shown that you can perform the job of the Consultant role well
  2. You have shown that you are already performing (for a decent duration) ‘at next level’ i.e. starting to take on some of the tasks of the Manager role
  3. You have people who are willing to speak up and support you in evaluation committees and willing to staff you as a Manager role

Hope this helps to clarify!

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Anonymous replied on Sep 16, 2020

Hi Anonymous!

It is not as easy to asnwer, because:

  1. You can't exclude those who leave the firm at will, because often they go hand-in-hand
  2. It varies by firm and office

Across the industry, the average career at a consulting firm is 2-3 years. As this is roughly the time between post-MBA hiring and Manager promotion and assuming a long tail for people that stay in consulting as a long-term career, this leaves you with a number of 25-40%. This does not say anything about the quality of people that leave before becoming Manager or their suitability to this job or another. It's purely the descriptive statistic.

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Anonymous replied on Sep 16, 2020

Dear A,

If that's your goal, than you can make it. I wouldn't insist that it's not possible or will take you a lot of time. You just need to know the system and how to succeed in it.

I have a program about long term career success, where I share tips and tricks o how to get fast promotion.

If you are interested about, feel free to drop me a line.

best,

André

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Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 19, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Moving to manager level (assuming you refer to project manager) is actually not that difficult but more like a natural progression of managing the whole team and workstreams. I don't have hard numbers on that for McKinsey, but I'd estimate something around 20-25% (don't forget to consider natural churn of people, so just looking at the percentage number without the consulting pyramid context might be strongly misleading!).

What is actually much more difficult is the progression to partner level. Not only do you need to bring in a substantial amount of revenue and contribute generally a lot to the firm and practice, but also it's a highly political game which you need to know how to play. Without strong support network inside the firm you won't get there, based solely on your 'objective' metrics.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Vlad
Expert
replied on Sep 17, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

The hoardest transitions are:

  • BA >> Associate
  • Associate Partner >> Partner

The transition to the manager is relatively easy since you start managing teams earlier, when you are an Associate. You get the title once everyone is sure you can do that. Post MBA it's even more straight forward since you are quite mature at this point

Best

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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