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?
Is it difficult to transfer from Italy to other locations within BCG?
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.
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.
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.
- Relocate with BCG first:
- 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.
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,
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