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MBB in Italy or Second Tier in Dubai?

Anonymous A

I have been offered a full time position in one of the biggest players in the Middle East region, but I am also interviewing for an MBB firm in Italy. On one hand side, the prestige of the MBB, on the other, the prestige of working in Dubai (and also the more interesting projects). How should I choose between them? Do you have some advices?

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Riccardo replied on 03/18/2018
Ex-MBB\Big4 & Senior Interview Coach | Advanced Prep

Hi Anonymous,

The choice you are confronted to is very important and at the same time very personal.
Surely there are some subjective and objective elements to take into account.

From the subjective side, It can really help you thinking where do you see yourself in the mid-term (in term of job - do you still see in consulting in a few years from now?; in term of location - what is your willingness to stay abroad and adaptability? ; in terms of industry knowledge you want to acquire based on type of projects you will be likely to be exposed - are there specific sectors you would love to learn about?). Depending on these factors, the weight of the brand vs the type of projects might differ!

I was confronted myself with the same doubt, when I had the choice to continue with a career in a MBB in Italy or move to Big4/strong regional player in Australia.

From the objective side, there are some of the things that I took into account to compare the companies:

• Brand

• Office location (e.g. international offices, offices locations)

• Size of the firm and the office

• Availability of resources (e.g. to perform research)

• Generalist vs. Specialist approach (i.e. when do you begin to specialize. Also includes the number of projects you are typically staffed on at one time.)

• Type of work

• Type of client

• Specific expertise

• Work/life balance

• Staffing model

• Compensation

• People/culture

• Performance evaluation (frequency and metrics, upward feedback on

managers and partners)

• Client exposure and interaction with client

• Interactions with Partners

• Training and development, mentorship


Try to gather as much information as you can from Interviews and people working in those offices. Hope it helps and happy to discuss further,

Best
Riccardo

Francesco replied on 03/18/2018
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for coaching sessions (1400+) with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

as a first step, I would concentrate on securing the MBB offer before considering the two alternatives. Unless you are 100% sure you want to accept the Dubai offer, don’t let this doubt become a distraction on the preparation, as could decrease the focus on the last steps of the process. Just assume you want to go for the MBB till when you have the offer, then you can make an educate decision, also based on the proposed package.

As for your specific question, there are several elements to consider for such decision. Between the most important I would consider the following:

  1. Geography. Where do you see yourself in the future? The earlier you start to work in a geography, the easier to build a network there, and a great network is one of the most important assets for one’s career. Personal life may also be highly impact from your chosen geography. Although you may also transfer location from Italy to Middle East in MBB and I know several people who did so in the last years, things may change in the future. If Dubai is a priority for you, this may give points to the Middle East Company.
  2. Industry/Projects/Client Focus. Assuming you are a new graduate, MBB allows more general type of projects. That may true or not for the Middle East company. According to your preference that could make better one or the other alternative.
  3. Exit opportunities/Brand. The average consultant stays in the company 2-3 years, so exit opts are critical point in the choice. In general terms, MBB offers more exit opportunities. Also, if you are “agnostic” in terms of the exit right now, MBB is a safer bet due to prestige. However, if the other company has a specific focus that you like (as it seems from your comment), that could speed up your career in such industry. Also, if your goal is to become a partner, career progression may be more relevant as a point.

There are further elements you could analyse (eg compensation, training, working hours) but probably not as relevant as the previous ones from a long-term perspective.

In the end, the ideal choice will depend on your long-term goal. How and where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? Based on that and considering the previous variables, you should be able to make an educate decision.

Hope this helps,

Francesco