Is 45 too old to join MBB or tier 2 consulting?

Bain BCG consulting Experienced Hire ExperiencedHire LEK Consulting MBB McKinsey Oliver Wyman Post-MBA
New answer on Oct 08, 2022
11 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 29, 2022

Straight forward question -  Is 45 to old to join MBB/Tier 2 consulting firms? (OW, LEK, etc.)

I'm currently senior manager (2 years) at a big 4 consulting. Joined as an experienced hire from industry in a specialism that is a high growth area e.g. digital. (I don't fit the normal consultant mold/entry route).  

I'm looking for a change. I don't think I'll get into pure management consulting (as it's super competitive and I don't have much experience) but there might be opportunities specific to my digital niche/specialism which is also growth area for MBB. 

I have a masters from a top 5 target school but not an MBA.  I don't think at my age it is worth doing an MBA :)  would an MBA help? what do you think. 

Feedback and thoughts welcome and appreciated.

(edited)

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Mario
Expert
replied on Sep 29, 2022
Ex-Mckinsey (analyst->associate->manager) and now in tech (Bytedance) + Part time interview coach and mentor

Hey there, it's not about the age. It's about the willingness to put in the hours as well as the role you take on. 

Overall, these are few things to keep in mind:

1- Part time and contractor opportunities:

if you are interested in joining these companies but you're worried about the lifestyle and hours, you can consider joining as part timer or as a contractor. This means you will be working on one-off projects and will not need to commit for the entire year. That way, you'll unlock the time you need for yourself and your loved ones. 
 

2- Expert vs. normal track

Some companies offer special tracks such as the expert track at McKinsey. Such track does not entail spending long hours on projects and is usually about offering specific niche advice to teams. You can consider it given you have built expertise over the years.

 

3- Teams and industries

Naturally, not all teams and industries are as demanding in consulting. Knowing partners and leadership before joining might help you land an offer with a promise to join a specific team that will cater for your lifestyle needs and your pace.

 

Keep those in mind as you consider the move! Best of luck! 

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Stanislav
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replied on Sep 29, 2022
Ex-McKinsey AP | Interviewed 50+ candidates, gave 10+ offers | Own MBB-inspired cases | Oxford and Cambridge graduate

Hi there, thanks for the question! 

I have absolutely seen more mature consultants join and prosper at MBB. Typically not as generalist consultants, but instead: 

1. Expert track - when you come to join a particular practice with a particular, often unique business expertise. I think digital in general is a bit too broad, but if you have a sub-specialization - agile coach/scrum master? DevOps? IT infrastructure? etc. Essentially, if you can position yourself as: I can come to any project on the particular X topic, bring relevant and unique expertise and make it fly

2. Technical track - if you happen to be a system architect, UI/UX designer… these are very much in high demand! 

3. Leadership roles. From a senior enough position in the industry you can join directly as an Associate Partner or even a Partner. However, this is less likely from a senior manager position at another consultancy. 

I would advise to be cautious of the generalist track: that track can be quite demanding physically, especially compared to the younger peers! However, you will have the advantage of being more credible than the very young peers, which can help. 

Good luck with your choice!

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Sofia
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replied on Sep 29, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching| Free 15 min intro call | Personalized approach

Hello,

Not too old at all! I think the general feedback you are receiving here about networking and leaning into your experience is spot on. You may not be the ‘traditional’ consulting hire, but I think you can certainly craft a story about how consulting fits into your career trajectory. Going for an expert position or an experienced hire in a practice makes a lot of sense - as you mentioned, digital is a growth area for a lot of consulting companies right now. I would also advise you to start networking with people at the firms you are interested in targeting - networking is particularly important if you are not entering via the traditional routes.

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Cristian
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replied on Sep 29, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi there, 

45 is definitely not an issue. In fact, I'm working with three other +40 year old candidates who are aiming to transition into MBB. 

The important thing is to make sure that you figure out how your experience until now fits within the value proposition of the firm you are targeting. In short, see if they have any openings for specialised / expert roles that are in line with your experience. 

It's a bit more difficult at 45 to get in as a generalist because the expectation is rather that you've accumulated significant experience in a specific field. 

Best,

Cristian

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Emily
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 29, 2022
Ex McKinsey EM & interviewer (5 yrs) USA & UK| Coached / interviewed 200 +|Free 15 min intro| Stanford MBA|Non-trad

Not too old at all, but generally it’s people who are younger who join as the lifestyle can be very demanding and as people have families they’re generally less willing to do things like travel four days a week.

That being said, I worked with someone who entered McK as an expert after they had retired from being a CEO. Some people love it! 

You will have a wealth of experience which would be valued on the expert track, so I would probably recommend going down that route. It’s worth talking to recruiting to get their take and, as others have said, networking with partners so that they know what you can offer. 

Good luck! 

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Sep 29, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

You are more likely to be successful in an expert track, but not necessarily. I strongly advise you to do high level networking (i.e. you should target partners) and make sure you have high quality projects in your resume.

An MBA is usually an indicator of high potential for young professionals. At 45 years old, that is not your case. What you need is impressive experience and knowledge.

Good luck with your recruiting efforts.

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Anonymous A on Sep 29, 2022

Thanks for the feedback

Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 30, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Its not about Age but whether Consulting is the right FIT for you at this stage in your life and career. If the FIT is there you will do fine and be successful. Otherwise its endless misery.

Have a look at this article for detailed guidance- preplounge.com/en/articles/how-do-i-know-which-career-is-right-for-me

All the best!

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Ken
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 29, 2022
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

There was someone at McKinsey who joined around the same age from a military background.  I felt his personal challenge was shifting from leading to executing where the day-to-day grind in the first few years is not for everyone.  If you are specialised in a growth area like digital, I have definitely seen cases where they are open to hiring non-traditional profiles.  Good luck!

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Rohit
Expert
replied on Oct 08, 2022
Contact for free resume reviews! (limited time offer) | Former Oliver Wyman NYC | Recruiting experience

A lot of answers here explain the “how” of how to make this switch - I also wanted to add that there are a fair amount of people who have done something like this succesfully as well (most typically in the expert path), so you are not trying something completely novel. This could also be a potentially avenue for you to get some advice from some of them if you can find people in this bucket on LinkedIn; I've found this tremendously helpful in understand how best to sell backgrounds/experiences.

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Lucie
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 02, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach
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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 30, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I think it depends on the position that you would come to, tbh. Have you figured this one out?

Cheers, 

Clara

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Mario gave the best answer

Mario

Ex-Mckinsey (analyst->associate->manager) and now in tech (Bytedance) + Part time interview coach and mentor
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