Is MBB to tier 2 to change geography and 4x salary worth it?

AT. Kearney
New answer on May 29, 2023
6 Answers
Anonymous A asked on May 25, 2023

Hello all, 

im currently a 2nd year entry level at MBB in a developing country. My net is ~$25K. 

i love the MBB i work for; however with that salary feel like the value proposition is not worth it. 

im up for promotion in a year but even then ill be making ~50K. Additionally i get a signing bonus that if i leave within a year i pay back + taxes.  if i go the MBA sponsorship route ill be in debit- they do sponsor you but my salary and savings isnt enough to live in US/Europe for 1 or 2 years; furthermore, i dont want to do an MBA only to come back at -$50K. 
i did try the internal transfer route but its not working due to many reasons

im approaching 30, and yes thats young however i feel like i need to be optimizing for money and wealth building. 
i did apply alot to industry however the current landscape isnt helping. 


i got an offer from kearney that is ~$100K at one if their GCC offices. That is 4x my salary and tbh an great salary. 

im unsure if i should take it or not; i will try to leverage it for an internal transfer but chances are slim. 

the pros: its a country i want to be in+ more independence which i want + very good money that i can use to save, invest, enjoy and potentially retire early 


cons: lower brand name this affecting longer exit ops + rebuilding connections and my brand.

on the cons,  i feel that given i already did 2 years at Mck i already have the brand name so potentially the exit ops hit isnt so severe? 
other consideration is when applying to industry i realized how heavy competition  is and we have an internal job board which i felt was a huge plus 


what do you guys think is the correct move? 



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Content Creator
replied on May 25, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

This is a complex situation, but very interesting. 

At the end of the day, it really depends on what your objective is. 

If you want to do FIRE (financial independence retire early), then it would make sense to move somewhere where the salary is high, try to keep your costs low (ideally where they currently are or lower - which isn't going to be easy), do this for a few years and then retire. Potentially move afterwards into something that you enjoy doing but might not bring as much money. 

If you're interested in having a long-term career, then I'd actually stick with McK. Indeed, the first two years are when the salary is at its worst, but then it increases rather quickly and the exit options and brand name does tend to help more than if you come from a Tier 2 firm.


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Anonymous A on May 25, 2023

Thank you so much for your reply! The issue is even after a few years and all the way to associate +2 years i will be making <$50K given geography. Unfortunately the idea that mbb gets better as you progress isnt true when across geographies. I wouldnt want to stay post EM. In your opinion is the exit ops difference significant?

Cristian on May 25, 2023

If you don't want to stay post EM, then from a financial standpoint it makes sense to move now. In the next 4y or so you'll then accumulate more money which could go towards your savings. I'm just struggling with the idea that money would be your primary driver to move - I can't imagine that making you satisfied.

Benjamin on Jun 02, 2023

Hi Anonymous, I just want to back Cristian up here and respond to your comment regarding "Unfortunately the idea that mbb gets better as you progress isnt true when across geographies". While there is cost of living adjusted salaries, there is a significant difference between a T2 firm vs MBB especially once you hit the Principal level, and definitely so when you are a Partner. Cristian was really talking about the long term game, and that point stands. Partner compensation is a complex and opaque topic, but if you do your own benchmarking you will see the income curve's gradient to be drastically different if you stay at McK vs a T2

Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer


Thanks for sharing your situation. Sharing my perspective on 2 things which I think you should consider when you making the decision, having come from both Tier 2 and MBB firms.

  1. Nature of work (client/project types)
    • The work you will do will be similar but by and large there will be differences
    • Some clients do recognize the premium/prestige factor of MBB and thus only give certain types of projects to MBB and not Tier 2
    • Of course exceptions do apply (e.g. if you are a Tier 2 with a very strong specialization)
  2. Nature of work (internally)
    • The other thing to consider is how things will be like within the firm when you are trying to do your job
    • People: in my opinion the consistency of quality at a T2 will not be as high at MBB
    • Resources: MBB likely will have more and better structured resources on the whole (e.g. production, research teams etc)
  3. Exit opportunities 
    • I found a marked difference in the number and frequency of offers and headhunters approaching me when i made to switch to MBB (vs previously at a T2)
    • You will have less prestige but that only matters if the place you want to apply to in the future cares about it 
    • You may have to work / network abit harder but as long as the future employer does not have any ‘hard’ criteria thats fine
      • I have known some industry players in SEA that only hire MBB for their strat teams
  4. Personal pride 
    • Lastly, this is something that I think often plays a big role but may not be talked about/said
    • If moving to a less prestigious / reputable firm is not objection/hurdle for you, then great
    • But for many others, I know they will never consider going to a T2 after MBB, or going back to a T2 after being in MBB

I think if #4 is not an issue, and if you don't see yourself staying in consulting for the mid-long term, then #1 and #2 are tolerable. #3 then becomes a game of networking effectively and smartly.

Happy to chat more if helpful. 

All the best!

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replied on May 29, 2023
#1 EY-Parthenon Coach | Bain | Roland Berger | RB Former Head Recruiter | Market Sizing Expert

There's no correct answer, as what matters is what is relevant to you.

But it feels like you will need to leave your country to improve your salary situation. I would also say that you already have the mckinsey brand. Of course it dillutes a bit, let's not ignore this, but nevertheless you have it.

Regarding the MBA, Kearney may ask you to do it as well. But of course, in that case, it will be for a much better salary.

Here's what you are not considering: you are assuming that you only have 2 options. Current job vs. new job. Well, that isn't true. You can look for a Tier 1 firm at GCC anyway - although I admit that there aren't many options - it's either your firm, or 2 competitors. But the point here is that neither decision is definitive. You can stay and try Tier 1 GCC; or you can accept and also try Tier 1 GCC anyway.

All in all, given what you said, probably leaving the company (possibly after you tell them that if you don't move you are leaving) and taking the Kearney role is what makes most sense.

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Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Look, ultimately, anything I say I have to caveat massively saying I do not know and this is not inherently what you should do.

I love talking to candidates during coaching to get a much better feel for their scenario, goals, values, future, etc. Then I can truly give advice. Here, I can only go off what you have written.

Again, anything I say is caveated in that you have to make your decision.

If it were me, I would do it. 4x salary is compelling. You already have 2 years at the firm, so you have the brand. Your career “jump” and boost from McK has already had its biggest impact (yes, there's more, but probably not in your current country).

I personally left after 2 years and have been just fine. Many people do.

Again, compare this to your goals (where you want to be, what your career should be etc.). But, I don't see any major issues with the more.

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Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on the Kearney offer! In terms of your question:

Q: I am currently a 2nd year entry level at MBB. I got an offer from Kearney that is ~$100K at one if their GCC offices. That is 4x my salary and tbh a great salary. What do you guys think is the correct move? 

I would consider the following:

  1. Understand what would you like to do after consulting (your best guess, if you are not sure). Consider also the geography of that exit
  2. See if that path can be achieved via Kearney (you can use LinkedIn for that)
  3. Compare the same path with the one of McKinsey
  4. Normalize the results for the size of the offices you are considering (you can use LinkedIn to check the current number of employees)

This should help you to understand if what you want to do in the future can be achieved with Kearney or not and how the different brands could impact that.

In general, I would not recommend to sacrifice future exits for more money. However if Kearney would offer a comparable opportunity as McKinsey for your target exit, there would be nothing wrong with accepting the offer.



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Content Creator
replied on May 26, 2023
BCG Project Leader | Former Bain, AlixPartner, and PE | INSEAD MBA | GMAT 780

Honestly, it is worth it. 

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Cristian gave the best answer


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