MBA degree / skill set not valuable to boutique consulting firms?

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New answer on May 10, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 06, 2020

Yesterday I interviewed with a boutique consulting firm, and they mentioned that they don't value much about MBA and past work experience itself. The rationale is, since I did not have experience in consulting, even if I manage to get an offer, I need to start from a junior level (which means lower pay). Except for internationally well-known tier1 / tier 2 firms, I have realized that several firms have the same approach. For example, Simon Kucher also does not have an "MBA program", and MBA graduates have to start from a junior role.

My question is - is it really that common that boutique firms do not care about MBA degree and work experience that is not directly related to consulting? Is it justified to "restart" career from the bottom of the consulting value chain getting low pays? My thought is, I would take this role only if I don't have other options. I don't feel justified that I will need to start a junior role with college or master student's who doesn't have any work experience. Thanks for any thoughts/advice!

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Clara
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replied on May 07, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

There are so many boutique companies, that you would need to compare case-by-case.

In general, MBA is usually a highly appreciated line in the CV -particularly from target schools-.

Best example about this are MBBs: regardless of your past background, all MBA hires enter as Associates -with all the same pay-.

Hence, I would suggest you to negotiate and bargain with them, since the MBA is for sure an asset.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Ian
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replied on May 07, 2020
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Hi,

This is very much on a case-by-case basis. It really depends on the company. But I can assure you an MBA is generally valuable in a consulting job search.

Furthermore, there will likely be companies that offer you a higher role. If you're not happy accepting a junior role at x company, then don't! But see if y company will offer you what you feel you deserve.

When restarting a career, you're essentially accepting a temporary setback if you believe the future will be brighter than the alternative. If you can't see this, don't accept the setback.

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Anton
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replied on May 08, 2020
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Hi,

I would not settle for an offer with such an approach from boutique firms.

Fact #1 Yes, candidates with previous consulting experience are more prepared for a consulting career in a short term (2-3 month period)

Fact #2 Candidates with MBA degree can easily develop consulting skills in mid term and create value for the company in long term

Best,

Anton

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Anonymous replied on May 09, 2020

Hi A,

In fact, yes, you're right. Some boutique firms, especially those in Germany don't really value an MBA that much. As for Germany, PHD is valued higher and therefore, MBA for non'target school doesn't give many advantages without relevant previous experience. So if I were you, I would rather try to approach MBB or Tier1 firms such as RB, Oliver Wymann, Kearney or Strategy&, where MBA is valued higher and you could leverage it.

If you're still struggling, feel free to reach out and I'm happy to help you land an offer.

Best,


André

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Anonymous replied on May 10, 2020

Hi there,

As everyone said, it depends. However, there is a general trend:

Smaller companies/offices don't have the scale to give you a structured training program and they don't have the resources to give you a support system for when you fall behind, you will go through a "baptism by fire" kind of situation.

Therefore smaller companies/offices look at MBA graduates as a high-risk high-reward situation: they might get someone who can learn the hard skills quickly and be a valuable addition to the team, or they might have someone who is getting a senior consultant who performs worse than a junior consultant with 1.5 years of experience. (I have witnessed many MBA graduates crash and burn for pushing to join as Senior Consultants and failing to deliver)

Regarding your concerns, what is good about consulting is that the good ones rise to the top quickly! So, if you truly believe in yourself and your capabilities, jump in the junior role and work for that quick promotion. (it might be better to delay your career by 6-12 months rather than jeopardizing it by pushing too much too fast in a company that doesn't have time/effort to help you if you fall behind)

I hope this helps.

Best

Khaled

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Francesco
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replied on May 07, 2020
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Hi there,

it is true that some companies don’t value much an MBA for a career progression (even in top companies it is now not always required to move to the next role), however I don’t think you may start at the same level as an undergrad for any company once you have an MBA – that would be nonsense.

In terms of work experience, you normally get fewer years of seniority compared to those you spent in the industry, thus yes, you may have to restart from a lower position, maybe in fast track for promotion though. On the other hand, that could be an opportunity to master an analyst/associate role well, and avoid to be appointed as manager too early with negative consequence.

Best,

Francesco

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Vlad
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replied on May 06, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

It's definitely not true for all the boutique firms. You have to compare what they offer you and negotiate. MBA is a good argument

Best

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Clara gave the best answer

Clara

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