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Norah

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7

Is age an issue to start a career as a consultant?

What would it be the threshold? Is there any different policy among the firms?

What would it be the threshold? Is there any different policy among the firms?

7 answers

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Originally answered:

Enter consulting with 45+ years

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Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for reaching out!

I would say you have two options:
1. Never leave before you leave: what I mean by that is you can apply now for consulting and find a right balance between your work and your personal life. Working in strategy consulting does not mean you won't be able to have a family and a life. Believe me, I know plenty of friends/ people who managed successfully to do both. You need to make compromises and be well-organized, but it's not a "no go" option.
Also, I have plenty of relatives who work in the industry and do make long hours. So I think you have a misconception about working hours when it comes to a challenging job.
Don't get me wrong here, you will work for long hours in strategy consulting. You will work (sometimes) on week-ends, or late night but it's still due to specific circumstances. And remember it's always about prioritizing and organizing your agenda.
2. If you are still not convinced by option 1, I do still think you can apply when you have 15+ years of experience. But it will be much harder to get in, not only because there is no specific track for you (unlike the graduates/MBA/ PhD/experienced hire) but also because you have to be a top expert in a certain field. Then you will be hired because you are an expert in a sector/practice/issue that can be leverages for the clients of the firm.
If you choose option 2, I highly recommand you to start seriously thinking what type of industry/problem you want to tackle and try to take initiatives in order to reach a high position in the firm(s) you will be in. I know many partners in Strategy consulting firms who were hired after a long career in industry and were experts on certain topics.
Of course, my opinion is based on the experience of different consultants I know and myself. So do not take it for granted but more as an advice.
Finally, best of luck for your journey, no matter what you decide and do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for reaching out!

I would say you have two options:
1. Never leave before you leave: what I mean by that is you can apply now for consulting and find a right balance between your work and your personal life. Working in strategy consulting does not mean you won't be able to have a family and a life. Believe me, I know plenty of friends/ people who managed successfully to do both. You need to make compromises and be well-organized, but it's not a "no go" option.
Also, I have plenty of relatives who work in the industry and do make long hours. So I think you have a misconception about working hours when it comes to a challenging job.
Don't get me wrong here, you will work for long hours in strategy consulting. You will work (sometimes) on week-ends, or late night but it's still due to specific circumstances. And remember it's always about prioritizing and organizing your agenda.
2. If you are still not convinced by option 1, I do still think you can apply when you have 15+ years of experience. But it will be much harder to get in, not only because there is no specific track for you (unlike the graduates/MBA/ PhD/experienced hire) but also because you have to be a top expert in a certain field. Then you will be hired because you are an expert in a sector/practice/issue that can be leverages for the clients of the firm.
If you choose option 2, I highly recommand you to start seriously thinking what type of industry/problem you want to tackle and try to take initiatives in order to reach a high position in the firm(s) you will be in. I know many partners in Strategy consulting firms who were hired after a long career in industry and were experts on certain topics.
Of course, my opinion is based on the experience of different consultants I know and myself. So do not take it for granted but more as an advice.
Finally, best of luck for your journey, no matter what you decide and do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

(edited)

Thanks for the advice, Norah. I'm in a similar position. The only difference is I plan to apply when I'm 38/39 years old. I am currently applying to part-time MBA programs at Kellogg/Booth. Do MBB firms hire engineers with a part-time MBA from these top schools. I also have a PhD in computer science, but I'm not sure I qualify as an expert having worked as a software engineer for a few years. Any advice will be really help my confidence. Thanks! — ConsultingKarma on Oct 08, 2018

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Hi,

For generalist positions, It's not officially an issue, but you would no join as an analyst role later that probably 30 and as an associate (consultant) later than 35-37. There is a number of reasons for that:

  1. You will like to be led by Managers who are much younger (up to 10 years) than you - communication that is difficult both for you and for him
  2. The older you are - the harder it is to survive long hours. When you are 35 overnights are not as easy as 25. Travel is not easy as well, but even partners have to travel.
  3. The older you are the harder it is to learn and to change your existing knowledge and beliefs

On the other hand, there are lots of experienced people of elder age who are hired as industry experts, implementation coaches, agile coaches, etc. MBB companies are switching to a more specialized model and there will be more and more roles for older experienced people within the company. I recommend monitoring the websites or even proactively reaching HRs for these roles if you have the right competencies.

Best!

Hi,

For generalist positions, It's not officially an issue, but you would no join as an analyst role later that probably 30 and as an associate (consultant) later than 35-37. There is a number of reasons for that:

  1. You will like to be led by Managers who are much younger (up to 10 years) than you - communication that is difficult both for you and for him
  2. The older you are - the harder it is to survive long hours. When you are 35 overnights are not as easy as 25. Travel is not easy as well, but even partners have to travel.
  3. The older you are the harder it is to learn and to change your existing knowledge and beliefs

On the other hand, there are lots of experienced people of elder age who are hired as industry experts, implementation coaches, agile coaches, etc. MBB companies are switching to a more specialized model and there will be more and more roles for older experienced people within the company. I recommend monitoring the websites or even proactively reaching HRs for these roles if you have the right competencies.

Best!

Hey anonymous,

there is no threshold at all in any of the MBBs, it’s more a matter of mindset - are you at certain age willing to be leaded by much younger people? And to restart from lower level in terms of profession? If so, there’s no issue with age - know a 35+ years old guy who joined McKinsey as associate

best

Bruno

Hey anonymous,

there is no threshold at all in any of the MBBs, it’s more a matter of mindset - are you at certain age willing to be leaded by much younger people? And to restart from lower level in terms of profession? If so, there’s no issue with age - know a 35+ years old guy who joined McKinsey as associate

best

Bruno

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As other stated, no age limit as you can be hired as a “lateral” in very senior positions. If you co-founded a company and company will be IPOed then I think the level of entry will be partner or it’s equivalent in the expert track, definitely not post-MBA role (e.g. consultant). To be considered for a partner role you need to demonstrate that you have wide and deep business connections that you can use as a client base or that you have significant topic/function/industry expertise that you can leverage to sell projects to current clients in partnership with other partners. Usual way to get consider for a lateral entry at this level is through headhunter or direct partner connection.

Hope it helps

andrea

As other stated, no age limit as you can be hired as a “lateral” in very senior positions. If you co-founded a company and company will be IPOed then I think the level of entry will be partner or it’s equivalent in the expert track, definitely not post-MBA role (e.g. consultant). To be considered for a partner role you need to demonstrate that you have wide and deep business connections that you can use as a client base or that you have significant topic/function/industry expertise that you can leverage to sell projects to current clients in partnership with other partners. Usual way to get consider for a lateral entry at this level is through headhunter or direct partner connection.

Hope it helps

andrea

(edited)

Thanks Andrea.. — Rajik on May 03, 2018

Very useful piece of info Andrea.. based on your answer and from quick search in the internet, it seems like the job scope of a partner is more towards getting client for business than solving the problems of a client.. Am I correct? If that's the case, I don't think so I would enjoy a partner role.. do you think its quite difficult for me to entering into the latter role? — Rajik on May 04, 2018

Hi,

it sounds like you should apply for an experienced hire role in your companies area eg pharma, health, science etc.

although there is no official limit, MBB most definitely like younger people for their roles and those either at school or just out of B school.

Firms generally assess candidates at their capacity level, so if you’re 38 you should have done ALOT compared to someone at B school who has already exited a start up (not uncommon).

this is why you should play to your strengths and try to advise in areas where you have deep knowledge.

chat to HR if you can and they will guide you, too.

cheers

Hi,

it sounds like you should apply for an experienced hire role in your companies area eg pharma, health, science etc.

although there is no official limit, MBB most definitely like younger people for their roles and those either at school or just out of B school.

Firms generally assess candidates at their capacity level, so if you’re 38 you should have done ALOT compared to someone at B school who has already exited a start up (not uncommon).

this is why you should play to your strengths and try to advise in areas where you have deep knowledge.

chat to HR if you can and they will guide you, too.

cheers

It depends on the company. I have an impression that smaller companies tend to hire older applicants

It depends on the company. I have an impression that smaller companies tend to hire older applicants

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