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How much experience does one need to have to be qualified for an engagement manager position ?

experience qualification
New answer on Oct 25, 2023
10 Answers
2.7 k Views
Anonymous A asked on May 14, 2020

I have an engineering bachelor's from a reputable University.

I have 1 year of experience working as a quality engineer with the public sector.

And I have 4.5 years of experience working in Business Development (Sales engineering) In a billion-dollar organization. With the experience of being a supervisor for two years.

Have advanced excel & PowerPoint skills.

And recently graduated with an MBA from a target school with a 3.85 GPA.

Have the following certificates :

- PMP: Project Management Professional

- six sigma yellow belt

Do you think the above-mentioned credentials make me qualified for an engagement manager position at an MBB?

And what would be the best path to take? (function & interest )


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replied on May 14, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers


It is extremely rare to be hired as an Engagement Manager without a consulting background. Your expertise and work experience is not really relevant, because the way of working at MBB is so specific that it is almost always a MUST to work as a team member, being managed by an EM and a Partner. IT is literally almost impossible to be successful by starting your consulting career as an EM - it is crash and burn with 90% probability... believe me.

What sometimes happens is that MBB companies hire senior people with the intend to fast track them into more senior roles. For example, when I was a Junior EM (JEM), one of my team members was a senior person that had been hired with the prospect of working as an AP (Junior Partner). But since he was new to consulting, he had to start as an Associate first, doing 2 or 3 projects before starting to lead teams himself. So my job as the JEM was to quickly bring him up to speed on the consulting toolkit and set him up for a quick rise. This was successful, and he managed to work as a JEM himself after about 8 months, became EM after a year, and then AP one year afterwards.

Cheers, Sidi

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Anonymous replied on May 15, 2020

Hi there,

As a recent MBA grad, you would most likely be starting from consultant level (BCG or Bain) / Associate (McK).

Your past 5.5 years experiences as engineer and BD is not super long. Many MBA grads could have similar length of experience and with more commercial exposure. Plus, when it comes to consulting hiring, non-consulting experiences would be discounted. 1 year in corporate is not equal to 1 year in consulting, as the learning curve and work load are all very different. I had 6 years before MBA in business related roles and I started in BCG as consultant.

Other credentials e.g. PMP or Six Sigma, while they might add value in corporate world sometimes, they are not important for consulting so won't add extra leverage to you.

Plus, since you have no consulting experience, starting as consultant/associate is probably for your own good. If you start as manager (even if somehow you pull it through), your risk of failing the job is pretty high. Don't rush unnecessarily.



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replied on May 14, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


First of all, consulting companies are almost not hiring for Manager roles. the only way to be hired is to have a similar experience (e.g. manager or associate partner in another consulting company)

Secondly, your experience of 4.5 years is just perfect enough for an Associate (McKinsey scale) role, but not a manager

Thirdly - you will not perform as expected in a Manager role without prior consulting experience. Thus, the chances of you staying with the firm long term will be pretty. Would you like to take such a risk?

Fourthly - the salary difference between Associate and Manager role is not that big. I would not take a risk of the failure for such a small difference

On the contrary, if you get hired as an Associate - you can start leading the projects 1 year after the start as a junior manager (still formally Associate title). If you perform well - your promotion will happen pretty soon.


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Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Very detailed post

There are two main things to consider here:

  1. It´s very very rare to be hired as an EM. Even when people are by far qualified for it, all cases I know have been hired as Senior Associates. Then, they very quickly start acting as JEMs and get fast promotions
  2. This said, I believe your profile matches totally MBB. However, and despite your experience, in line with what´s been exposed in point 1, you will be offered a senior associate role.

Is true that you can argue that you have longer job experience than a grown-in-house EM -who sometimes only has 3-4 years work experience. However, returning associates -people who were BAs before- get there faster.

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Oct 25, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer


As Sidi mentioned - very few get hired laterally into a Manager/Principal role. In my experience, most of the lateral Manager/Principal roles have been from either other MBBs or T2s (but they take a tenure cut if from T2).

Here are several actual examples of backgrounds I've seen join/get offered the Consultant role at BCG (pre-Manager)

  • ~13 years experience in public sector/financial institutions
  • ~8 years experience in F500 company
  • ~10 years experience in F500 company
  • ~12 years experience at global MNC

It is very hard to perform as a manager level at MBB without going through the ropes. If offered a lower position, I'd just take it. 1-2 years in the long run really doesn't make a difference.

Hope this helps to clarify for anyone facing a similar situation.

Happy to chat more on my own experience having gone through the ranks as PL/Principal in BCG - just drop me a dm.


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Content Creator
replied on May 15, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

I agree with the previous comments, you are likely going to be hired for a post-MBA position as Associate (McK) or Consultant (BCG) with your experience.

Even if you were allowed to start with an EM position, it would be so challenging to perform well without previous experience in consulting that you would be better off asking to start as Associate instead.

I would not worry about the fact that you may start “lower” compared to your current role, consulting offers a pretty fast career growth if you perform well.



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replied on May 14, 2020
Ex Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)

Hi There,

From your description, the best position you can get is to be an Associate (McKinsey) /Consultant (BCG, Bain) given you are coming from Top/Targeted MBA.

McKinsey barely hires Exp Hire people directly at EM above level, but they do. So, who are they? I can speak from my exp at McKinsey.

  1. Ex-manager level from other MBB or Senior Manager from other top-tier firms and must have:
    • A solid consulting background (have the "know-how" to navigate in consulting)
    • Exposure to project management skill
    • Exposure to people management skill
    • Have clients handling experience as advisors/consultants
  2. 10-15 years exp at VP/SVP/Director level from the industry, but must have:
    • From a reputable organization if not Forbes 500
    • Experiences in leading big projects/transformation from time to time
    • Experiences in leading cross-functional team/project for at least 5-8 years
    • Exposures in leading a high-caliber team in the last 3-5 years
    • Deep understanding/knowledge of their industry

As an EM, you are no longer making excel or ppt on day to day basis (as this is already a hygiene/basic), you will have your team to do that. BUT, they need directions, quality check, and higher-level problem solver to help them accomplish the work - and that's EM's daily works on top of dealing with partners, project sponsors, working team clients, scope creeps, etc.

Whenever McKinsey hired EM from exp hire, they usually put them as an Associate (with EM pay) for at least 1 cycle (6 months) to get the person up to speed and understand the pain, the work, the hustle of being a consultant as well as get your hygiene right (PPT, Excel, Client handling, Problem Solving, etc.). After 1-2 good cycles, then they will act as normal EM.


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Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate


I'm sorry but I really just don't see you having even a shot a engagement manager. You would come in as consultant. Additionally, I'm surprised you weren't able to get this answered while obtaining your MBA?

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Anonymous replied on May 14, 2020

Hi there,

In short - probably you can aim for a senior consultant role (your experience doesn't match the profile for an engagement manager)

Consulting requires a very specific set of skillset - this is why consulting companies treat 2/3 years of relevant industry experience as equivalent to 1 year of consulting experience.

So your total experience of 5.5 years is equivalent to ~2 years of consulting - you having an MBA is a great plus.

So my guess is that you would be considered for senior consultant role if your MBA is from a target school (or consultant position, if the CV is not very relevant to consulting work and the school is not a target school)

It might look like a downgrade, but consulting is a great career that is worth a bit of sacrifice at the beginning :)

I hope this helped clarify a bit the situation.

Best of luck,


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Anonymous A on May 14, 2020

Is that a different path ? My knowledge is that the path is as follows: associate - EM - Principal - Partner.

Anonymous replied on May 15, 2020

Dear A ,

You have a great profile, however, if you don't have direct consulting experience, I think that you will be positioned as an Associate and after a couple of years and proving of your consulting skills, you can count with a fast-track promotion to engagement manager.

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

Good luck,


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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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