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I'm 33 with an offer at MBB: should I accept it?

Danny asked on Aug 30, 2019 - 3 answers

Dear all,

here to ask you guys an opinion: I'm 33 and worked for 5-6 years in Unilever (in Marketing) in London, and currently working (since 2 years) at one of FAANG in London, in Sales. I’m your usual middle-manager with an income in the GBP 70-90k range.

I've received an offer to join one of MBB as post-MBA (i.e. pre-manager position), and I'm now wondering 2 things:

1. Is the work-life balance really that hard? I'm used to manage my time rather flexibly and have very good balance - will it be really tough to adapt to such an intense work environment? Friends and ex-colleagues who are in MBB tell me your usual Mon-Thu is 9-22, but can often get nastier. Is it truly intense work or you get downtime? I’m worried I wouldn’t be able to keep it up with the younger folks.

2. Is the experience really going to add anything to my career, if I were to go back to the industry after the MBB experience? If my objective is to break it into a director level position in the next 3-4 years, would 2 years (what I understand to be the average turnoever in consulting) in MBB add anything to my progression or I should stick to the industry and keep building a consistent career? I’m particularly concerned with people management skills, which I have now and wouldn’t have in MBB.

I guess the real question is: is the sacrifice in life worth from an experience point of view, or I actually risk of slowing down or at best have the same progression I would have by sticking to industry?

Thanks for any perspective!!

Dan

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Vlad
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replied on Aug 30, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Hi,

1) It's hard. And it gets harder if you are older. No one will tell you the opposite.

2) It will probably not add to the career progression since the people who stay in the industry at the same place usually grow faster if they are smart enough. However, it will definitely boost your skills and help you become a top performer compared to your peers.

Downside - it's true - you'll lack people the bigger part of the management skills:

  • Leader as an architect and someone building the teams - not in consulting, since you don't have this aspect at all. All the people who are hired are smart
  • Leader as a beacon and a person motivating the teams - not in consulting, since the people are already motivated with high salaries and up or out policy.
  • Leader as a project manager working effectively with the different parts of the organization - you can definitely learn this in consulting since it has a lot of client and internal politics

Answering your question - it really depends on what's the alternative. If you have a good progression now and you can grow as a people manager - I would probably keep as it is. Moreover, the UK consulting salaries are comparatively low nowadays.

If you want to grow your problem solving, project management and politics skills - would definitely go there.

I would try to negotiate it with the current company - leave for MBB, stay there for a couple of years and then go back with upside.

Best!

Udayan
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updated his answer on Sep 01, 2019
Ex McKinsey EM with 7 years of recruiting experience/ received all 3 MBB offers/Real MBB cases
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Hi Dan,

In terms of age I would not be as concerned with what is achievable. A lot of people in McKinsey were in their 30s and managed just fine. Energy levels matter more than age.

The normal hours are what you describe and can be more depending on the project. In terms of downtime, on most days you will have some down time but it does vary from project to project and also how efficient you are at getting work done. In terms of age here again I would focus on the fact that you bring your greater experience to the project and that counts for a lot when it comes to the output being produced.

The question on career progression is a very valid one. I think it truly depends on what you are after. What MBB gives you is a brand name to leverage at a larger variety of firms and an alumni netwrok that is usually very responsive and extremely helpfu. If you want to go to MBB and then come back to the same company you are at or a similar company it is probably not a good idea, but if you are looking for more diverse set of options then it could be worth it

(edited)

Ivan replied on Aug 30, 2019

Hi Danny

you will work long hours and you will love it J

Given your track at Unilever etc, you seem to have a lot of experience in the corporate world and this knowledge will ultimately help you to stay ahead of younger colleagues.

In terms of people management skills, consulting firms heavily invest into training their consultants and you will definitely have a lot of trainings helping you to improve this. Don't worry about this.

After all, your carrier progression is much more structured in the consulting compared to traditional industry roles in London and the pay is more generious.