Is it difficult to transfer from Italy to other locations within BCG?

BCG location transfer
Edited on Sep 05, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 23, 2018

I got an offer to join BCG as a VA in Italy. I would like to be able to continue my career also outside Italy and therefore transfer maybe to the ME or anywhere else in the world. Do you know whether is it easy to do so? How are the BCG exit packages designed?

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Francesco
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replied on Mar 24, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

this was my experience based on working in the Milan office:

  • Many new graduates leave either after 2 years (pre MBA) or after 5-6 years after joining (including the MBA time or Senior Associate time if you don’t go for the MBA)
  • The easiest path to move abroad for new hires is either:
    • Relocate with BCG first:
      • Relocate in high-demand countries as soon as a project there is available (usually once reached consultant level). I know many people who moved to ME some years ago when it was in high demand for consultants. Once there, network to leverage exit opportunities
      • Do the MBA abroad and relocate in the country of the MBA after it (many people stick to the company to have the MBA paid before leaving)
    • Relocate outside BCG:
      • Build an external network in the country of your interest. This will require to take part in communities outside your daily job, thus will be requiring given the office hours in Italy, which are pretty intense.
  • BCG also offers the Ambassador Program, which allows to spend one year abroad in another office. This could be an additional opportunity, however most of the time is offered in the firm once you reached seniority, thus will have to stay longer in the firm

In general, to directly answer your questions: it’s not easy to move abroad to the hottest destinations from Italy – that’s what most of your cohort wants as well, thus is highly competitive. You may have more space in emerging countries, in particular moving there still as part of BCG to locally build your network there.

Best,

Francesco

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Li on Mar 26, 2018
Thanks for the insight, Francesco. Do you think there's still a high demand for strategy consultants in ME (esp. Dubai)? Thanks.
Francesco on Mar 11, 2020
Commenting this late for Anonymous (for some reasons I did not receive the notification of the comment and I just saw this) but hopefully useful for someone else: ME is still growing, but Doha is probably now the city growing the most
Sidi
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updated an answer on Mar 24, 2018
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

compared to McKinsey, BCG is operating more in "regional cells". This means, they are less globally integrated as a firm, which has a couple of implications of global mobility of consultants.

Generally speaking, there are several types of transfers - and it becomes trickier, the more "permanent" you want your move to be.

Temporary office transfers:
Lasting 12-18 months, you're essentially an expat, and you're expected to transfer back to your home office afterwards. One tricky twist (at least as of a few years back) is that the whole exchange program is supposed to net out, ie some other consultant needs to be found to take your place. As you can imagine, this is easy if you're based in a very popular location (like London or NYC), trickier for some other offices.

High-growth offices:
Some offices, especially the ones that have been setup recently and are growing fast with a lack of local talent pool have programs to facilitate temporary or permanent office transfers. It should be pretty easy for you to get to know which ones are currently "open" right now. Of course, by definition you're talking emerging countries and/or relatively exotic geographies - not NYC or London.

If you want to move permanently:
If you want to move somewhere else on a permanent basis, that's a bit trickier with BCG. Given that they operate less in a global "one firm" way, it is not in your home office's best interest to let you go, because they were the one to invest on finding you, firing you, and training you. So, they basically won't have an inclination to help much - instead they might try to have you wait. So, if this vital for you, being crystal clear about what you want will be critical to make it happen. You will literally have to go on peoples' nerves (CDA, HR, your current managers). Even more important: reach out to your target office to sell yourself! Concretely, to make the transfer happen, you have to make the target office pull you!

All of that being said, ther is one overarching truth to it: if you are a high performer, everything will be MUCH easier. If you struggle, you might not be a ble to pull it off.

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Aug 31, 2020

Hi A,

I need to say that transfers are a pretty tricky thing and require a lot of sensitive political skills.

I had two transfers in my career:

  1. From the Financial Services practice to Automotive within the same region
  2. From Munich to Dubai office

Different companies offer three types of transfers:

  1. Temporary project assignment abroad (for the duration of the project)
  2. Short-term office exchange programms (usually between 3 and 12 months depending on the company)
  3. Permanent office transfer

All of them are different in terms of difficulty to get. While project assignments abroad are quite common and easy to get, permanent office transfers are very challenging and require hard work from your end and a bit of luck.

In any way you would need the support of your mentor, the staffing manager in your region as well as partner in the targeted office, who will push your transfer.

If you need any help, just drop me a PM.

Happy to share my experience.

Best,

André

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Marco-Alexander
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Content Creator
updated an answer on Sep 05, 2021
Former BCG | Case author for efellows book | Experience in 6 consultancies (Stern Stewart, Capgemini, KPMG, VW Con., Hor

(edited)

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Andrea
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replied on Mar 24, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

I would say that is quite difficult, especially if you do not have strong personal reasons. As mentioned, if office you are targeting is growing strongly that makes it somewhat easier but you will need to work harded to network. At the end to transfer you need a pull from your target office and assume home office will try to retain you as much as they can.

Hope it helps,

Andrea

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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