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Is BCG Dubai worth going? Lifestyle & exit

BCG exit options Lifestyle Middle East
New answer on May 20, 2024
7 Answers
3.7 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Feb 05, 2023

I received an offer from BCG Dubai to be an associate. Read some pretty negative reviews online about the work-life balance in the Middle East - how is it like there these days? 

  • What are the typical hours and Are the weekends protected? 
  • How are the benefits (alt travel, travel/meal reimbursement)? 
  • How are the staffing flexibility? 
  • Are there any BCG X presence or any chance of staffing on tech/startup related projects? 
  • Where do people typically exit to?

My plan is to go into a the tech startup later, but possibly in Europe or Asia. Is it worth it to start at BCG Dubai?

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Anonymous B replied on Feb 06, 2023

Ex BCGer from Dubai office. 

Firstly, all the answers you are getting from EXPERTS are exceptionally generic. None of them are answering what you intend to know, simply because they haven't worked in that region and the insights they are sharing seems like an obligation that have to answer every question. 

Hours are tough, and office culture ain't the best across the globe. One of the saddest things I had to see was the office review by all BCGers. The year I joined BCG, I saw 5 key things that the BCG Dubai office was facing in the yearly review, surprisingly the very next year the same 5 things (in the same order) were there. The culture is pretty weird and racism is part of the game. 

1) Hours can vary, but in general, the hours are more compared to European offices. Generally, the weekends are protected. I recall only 1 specific time I had to work over weekend for few hours, which was compensated in additional day off 
 

2) Benefits are pretty darn good

3) Staffing flexibility - well you will have flexibility on which project you can do in Saudi (after gaining some seniority/tenure) however if you think cross-office projects then please forget it. Rarely that opens up

4) Tech start up in this region? Please google and you will realize the region is lagging in startup in general and very few thriving startups exist post Series A round ( i know this because I worked with VC in the Middle East too).  

5) People exit to - government (which are 99% clients of BCG), back to their home countries and some to very few big tech companies here 

Lastly, your question on BCG Dubai experience is valid or not for building your own startup is very subjective - Please think carefully about why it might work - remember most of the time you will be working on projects where you will learn content very specific to that govt or policies of that region which is not useful in Asia or Europe. Since there is lack of private companies that use BCG services, it's hard to build a knowledge base/insights that you can apply across the globe. 

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 05, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Congrats on the offer!

BCGers from Dubai can give more specifics, but sharing a couple of points based on my experience working in consulting for a fair bit of time and having done global projects and also having a network of friends from various offices around the world. 

  • WLB → If BCG Dubai is your only offer, and you know you will quit at some point, then the question you have to answer is “is having poor WLB worth it for [x] years to gain the consulting toolkit and get the BCG brand
    • The work in consulting in general is hard and WLB is still a struggle for many offices and systems
      • Even within systems where you'd think there would be better WLB (e.g. Europe, North America), there are offices that also work really hard and have poor WLB
    • If you are set on starting in consulting and have other comparable offers (M or B), then sure try and pick the one with the best WLB
  • Staffing → this is something that is very variable and everyone has a very personal journey with staffing, and the challenges/flexibility of staffing is fairly consistent across the offices i've had friends with/spoken to
  • Tech/startup projects → There is of course always a chance. BCG DV has a Middle East Center. You may work on DV projects but for local clients (i.e. think of the key industries/clients in the region)
  • Exit to tech startup → Frankly speaking, if you want to exit to a tech startup (and I assume you mean pre-seed, seed or early), you don't really need MBB
    • While a number of successful startups have been started by ex-consultants, many more have been started by people of varying backgrounds, and some without even a university degree
    • In Asia esp. India and SEA, the number of ex consultants exiting to startups has been increasing alot in recent years. MBB pedigree is prized in certain countries for founders, but a lot of the reason why that's the case is because of a general lack of talent otherwise

 

All the best!

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

By and large, there aren't significant difference in the Middle East compared to other regions, especially in terms of lifestyle and typical hours. I wrote an article on this here, just so you understand a bit more what actually influences lifestyle. 

Then, in terms of staffing, you can expect working mostly in the region and North Africa, though if you're purposeful about it you can get staffed wherever you want. Even though BCG works on a more regional staffing model than McKinsey, it's still rather easy to go out of the home base.

I'd also recommend you reach out directly to some BCG consultants in the Middle East. This might give you a live opinion from some of those who already operate in the region.

Best,

Cristian

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 05, 2023
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

By and large the main difference is unlikely to be in hours worked and benefits such as meal reimbursement. I have never ever heard of meals not being reimbursed unless they are weirdly exorbitant. 

If you are concerned about lifestyle, consulting is not for you. No one can guarantee a protected weekend or 12 hour days. That is not how consulting works….it may be the case for 1-2 projects but clients do not pay millions of $$$ for a 9-5 job

Exit opportunities in Dubai will depend on demand for your skillset at the time but I would be shocked if it is anything short of very high.

Speak to people who have worked there and left recently. In my opinion BCG Dubai is a great office to work in if you are flexible on exit option locations and are willing to put in the hours.

 

Best,

Udayan

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Eddy
Expert
replied on May 20, 2024
McKinsey Offer | 4 years @ Kearney | Sponsored MBA | Google Intern (Strat & Ops)
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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 05, 2023
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on the offer!

I think this is an interesting question that may be relevant for many people. I would be happy to share my thoughts on it:

  • Given you still have doubts about accepting the offer, I would highly advise you to reach out to someone you trust and discuss your doubts and the root cause of these doubts, whether it is a family member, friend, or your partner.
  • Most of the questions you have asked are highly dependent on the individual and the projects they are staffed on. As such, it might be misleading if I provide my perspective on it.
  • Lastly, given your ultimate goal is not in strategy consulting but the tech startup scene, I would advise you to reevaluate your initial motivation for considering strategy consulting altogether. Maybe it would be a more suitable career path to join a tech startup in Europe right away.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to address your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 05, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on the offer!

Now, you have a ton of questions here. And, they all coallesce to: Should I take this offer?

Given this will impact the rest of your life/career, you should seriously consider 1 hour with a case/career coach.

Think about the consequences of a wrong decision, versus the benefits of the right one. Then think if you want that to hinge on a Q&A where none of us know you….

Now, here are my thoughts:

  1. Stop overcomplicating. Do you really care about the benefits? Or staffing flexibility? Figure out 1-2 things that REALLY matter and ignore the rest…it's just noise
  2. It sounds like you're going in hoping the work won't be hard. It will be hard. You will work late nights and long hours. Please don't go into this  “hoping” to have weekends protected. They might be. They might not.
  3. You need to network and speak to people at the firm. All of your questions can easily be answered by just picking up the phone! Ask BCG to let you have a call with a few of the other consultants/associates. Ask them these questions and find out for yourself if this fits!
  4. It *seems* your #1 priority is exit options. I think. For this you again need to speak with people at the office. In general, BCG has staffing flexibility BUT you have to position yourself effectively to make this happen. In general, the Middle East will not have a lot of tech/startup projects. In general, people from MBB *can* exit into tech/startup, but it's not the most common path

Hope this helped!

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