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How to limit and manage amount of travel?

Anonymous A asked on Feb 16, 2018 - 3 answers

Is it possible to limit the amount of travel at MBB firms to avoid being away from home during all week? If so - how?

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replied on Feb 16, 2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 100+ candidates secure MBB offers
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A couple of points to consider:

  • Market: If you are looking at highly decentralised economies (like Germany for example; same goes for the US), travel is more likely. In more centralised settings (like France, UK), most of the client HQs are concentrated in the capital city - so most likely within commuting distance from the consulting office
  • Sector: Some industries are intrinsically more local and others more international. Banking/Pharma/Telco tends to be quite local in most markets, whereas extracting industries (Mining, O&G,...) are extremely global and spread out across continents
  • Consulting firm setup: Some firms (and practices/Service lines within firms) manage staffing on a more local basis, with regional/global overlays. Others explicitly staff regionally or globally from a common pool. Clearly the former leads to less travel on average. Given my personal experience at the two leading firms, BCG has more of a regional hub model when it comes to staffing, while McKinsey operates more as "one firm". Thereby, international projects are (ceteris paribus) more likely at McKinsey
  • Network & Seniority: As you become more senior, you get some increase in influence over staffing in general (if partners love working with you, you have options to choose from), and also specifically (becomes relevant once you manage projects and decide who needs to be where for a particular meeting or piece of work)

My personal experience over the last 7 years at McKinsey and BCG was quite travel-heavy, but that was largely driven by my desire to work in different emerging markets, which spread across different continents. I have seen many colleagues who have opted for an approach to minimise travel, and they all pulled a combination of the above levers.

Hope this helps!

Cheers, Sidi

replied on Feb 16, 2018
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When you join as a newly grad the level of control comes down to two variables:

-firm: some firms have local/regional staffing models (flights <2 hours), other continental ones (anything is a fair game). BCG and Bain are known to be more local/regional on average than McKinsey

-office: office industry mix and their main clients drive where projects are. So NYC and London offices have more local opportunities due to financial services clients than, let's say, Atlanta

if you join as an experienced hire with already a specialization in an industry/function you should choose the office which is closest to the clients you will potentially serve.

hope it helps!


Vlad replied on Feb 17, 2018
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There are multiple ways to influence that:

  1. Select the clients within your city.
  2. Try to stay with one client as long as possible, doing multiple projects
  3. Develop relationships with particular partners in the industries that are located locally
  4. Have good relationships with the staffing coordinators and tell them openly that you want to stay in a particular area
  5. Work with one of the practices (e.g. Digital) having a separate staffing
  6. Relocate to the office with limited travel

Unfortunately, it is very hard to limit the amount of travel, but you can try.

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