MBB Consultants - Python/ SQL?

data MBB python sql
Edited on Jan 16, 2020
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 19, 2018


Do generalists MBB consultants use Python or Sql at all to build models, sort data, analyse data etc?

is this a skill worth learning?


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Anonymous replied on Jun 19, 2018

Can confirm that we don't use either at Bain - but we have an "advanced analytics group" that will help with big data/complicated analysis.

What we do use, to an increasing degree, are Tableau (data visualisation software) and alteryx (which is a "user-friendly" data analysis tool for large/complicated data sets). Alteryx has much of the functionality of Python (with less flexibility), but is designed to be used by non-techy people - see a demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FptWsowYkIM

I do know that at Oliver Wyman Middle East they do teach the generalist consultants how to use SQL, and even have some training classes to use Python. The truth is that Excel is increasingly not sufficient to meet data crunching/processing needs, so firms need to evolve by moving towards more powerful tools.

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replied on Jun 19, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


  1. Most of the generalist consultants don't use SQL or Python.
  2. MBB firms have dedicated research people to run complicated models, programming and crunch big data
  3. However, I've seen generalist who had this skill and used it as a spike. You can get amazing reviews for the project if you can code or analyze big data. It's always good when people know you as a guy "who can do these automated dashboards"
  4. Longterm I think SQL will be a must skill for consultants. They are already starting to use Tableau, etc on a regular basis. SQL is next


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replied on Jun 19, 2018
Ex-Oliver Wyman with 100% interview success rate - specialized in female career coaching


I agree with Vlad - most of the generalist consultants don’t use SQL or Python, however if you have this skill this may indeed get you great reviews.

BUT (I’ve seen this not in MBB but in other firms - it may be true for MBB however): You do run the risk of becoming THE SQL / Python guy, who is staffed on purpose on projects where these skills are needed. So if you decide to learn this skill and specialise in it, make sure you either like becoming the expert or actively address this issue with your staffer.


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replied on Jun 19, 2018
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

No! Python/SQL is not used by generalist consultants. This is the domain of data scientists, which are more and more supporting day-to-day work of the project teams (on- and off-site) in firms like McK and BCG.

Cheers, Sidi

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updated an answer on Jan 16, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


In McKinsey, we used Excel 99.5% of the cases -the Advance Analytics hub took care of the more difficult stuff-.

In Amazon however, people regularly know SQL on top of Excel.

Hope it helps!




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