Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
3

Mid-career shifts

Hi all, my question may be somewhat unusual for this site.

I am currently in a boutique consulting firm, working mostly with the international development banks and agencies on strategy and evaluation. I am interested in making the shift to one of the big firms, because (a) I would like to increase the scope and impact of my work, (b) get experience with a larger number of sectors, and (c) since I work very hard and long anyway, more rewards (measured also in terms of networks, wealth of experience etc) would be welcome.

I had the following alternative pathways in my mind currently:

1. Use my academic degree. Firms like BCG make a big point about recruiting advanced degree graduates. I did get a PhD in the last five years and could probably try to go this route. This may be easier because it allows me to get away as an expert in a discipline rather than pretending to have experience with corporate consulting.

2. Use my experience. Apply for regular positions (with the networking, of course) for consultant positions. This may be much more difficult for me since I do not have an MBA or experience in large management consulting.

In your experience do any of these approaches actually work? Do you know of people who have made this transition from a small firm to a big one? Am I missing something here?

Any tips would be really welcome. Thank you so much!

A

Hi all, my question may be somewhat unusual for this site.

I am currently in a boutique consulting firm, working mostly with the international development banks and agencies on strategy and evaluation. I am interested in making the shift to one of the big firms, because (a) I would like to increase the scope and impact of my work, (b) get experience with a larger number of sectors, and (c) since I work very hard and long anyway, more rewards (measured also in terms of networks, wealth of experience etc) would be welcome.

I had the following alternative pathways in my mind currently:

1. Use my academic degree. Firms like BCG make a big point about recruiting advanced degree graduates. I did get a PhD in the last five years and could probably try to go this route. This may be easier because it allows me to get away as an expert in a discipline rather than pretending to have experience with corporate consulting.

2. Use my experience. Apply for regular positions (with the networking, of course) for consultant positions. This may be much more difficult for me since I do not have an MBA or experience in large management consulting.

In your experience do any of these approaches actually work? Do you know of people who have made this transition from a small firm to a big one? Am I missing something here?

Any tips would be really welcome. Thank you so much!

A

3 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer

Hey there,

The ease of doing this depends a bit on where you are. In the UK it is very common for people to transition 3-4+ years into their career into consulting at MBB. In fact I know several colleagues that transitioned from boutique consultancies to Bain. However, in the US (at least at Bain), this is much rarer, where the majority of the intake joins either right out of undergraduate or post-MBA.

One risk of transitioning is that you will "lose" a year or two in terms of the position you join - one of my colleagues was already at the post-MBA position at a boutique consultancies but had to join Bain as a pre-MBA position, with opportunity for fast track promotion.

Overall the best option in both cases is to network and either try get a referral or meet the people that will likely review your CV or have input into you getting an interview. The "path" you choose - i.e. try leverage your PhD and join as an expert in your field or try a regular transition depends heavily on the firm, the office, and the available positions.

Hey there,

The ease of doing this depends a bit on where you are. In the UK it is very common for people to transition 3-4+ years into their career into consulting at MBB. In fact I know several colleagues that transitioned from boutique consultancies to Bain. However, in the US (at least at Bain), this is much rarer, where the majority of the intake joins either right out of undergraduate or post-MBA.

One risk of transitioning is that you will "lose" a year or two in terms of the position you join - one of my colleagues was already at the post-MBA position at a boutique consultancies but had to join Bain as a pre-MBA position, with opportunity for fast track promotion.

Overall the best option in both cases is to network and either try get a referral or meet the people that will likely review your CV or have input into you getting an interview. The "path" you choose - i.e. try leverage your PhD and join as an expert in your field or try a regular transition depends heavily on the firm, the office, and the available positions.

Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

284 Meetings

1,395 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

You can also simply apply to the regular track and leverage your general background. Two friends of mine did this, including one who joined BCG after 2 years in a boutique firm and did extremely well while there.

You can also simply apply to the regular track and leverage your general background. Two friends of mine did this, including one who joined BCG after 2 years in a boutique firm and did extremely well while there.

Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

406 Meetings

11,402 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

Hi,

You can leverage your PHDin the following cases:

  • The topic of your research is relevant for particular industries / functions and has some real life applicability
  • The quant research methods you've used make you relevant for consulting

The outcome, in this case, depends on the role you are applying for:

  • If you get a role as an industry / functional expert, your salary might be lower and the career growth a bit slower than the generalist. However, McKinsey recently added and expert trek to the partner.
  • You may also get a role as a generalist and specialize further in the topic of your PHD. In that case, you apply in a general pool but leverage your PHD expertise in your stories and later while looking for projects.

Finally why do you think you can't make a transition now? I recommend you find a person who can make a referral and submit directly. More on referral here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-is-a-referral-really-1103#a2129

Best

Hi,

You can leverage your PHDin the following cases:

  • The topic of your research is relevant for particular industries / functions and has some real life applicability
  • The quant research methods you've used make you relevant for consulting

The outcome, in this case, depends on the role you are applying for:

  • If you get a role as an industry / functional expert, your salary might be lower and the career growth a bit slower than the generalist. However, McKinsey recently added and expert trek to the partner.
  • You may also get a role as a generalist and specialize further in the topic of your PHD. In that case, you apply in a general pool but leverage your PHD expertise in your stories and later while looking for projects.

Finally why do you think you can't make a transition now? I recommend you find a person who can make a referral and submit directly. More on referral here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-is-a-referral-really-1103#a2129

Best

Related case(s)

BCG Questions

Solved 27.2k times
BCG Questions What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where you were not the official leader.
4.5 5 212
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit Interview | Topics: Personal fit

What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where ... Open whole case

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 16.7k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.6 5 588
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 9.8k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.6 5 489
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case

Hot Wheels

Solved 5.2k times
Hot Wheels Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability.
4.6 5 290
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability. Open whole case

MBB Case: COVID-19 Vaccine

Solved 4.7k times
MBB Case: COVID-19 Vaccine The COVID-19 pandemic has killed millions of people worldwide and led to devastating economic impact. A vaccine is one of the biggest hopes for stopping the pandemic.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with multiple stakeholders to ensure groups at higher risk of becoming infected and dying (e.g. elderly people and healthcare workers) receive a safe an effective COVID-19 vaccine in the next six months. The WHO’s Director-General asked your help to build a plan to achieve this goal. What should be included in this plan?
4.6 5 250
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed millions of people worldwide and led to devastating economic impact. A vaccine is one of the biggest hopes for stopping the pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with multiple stakeholders to ensure groups at higher risk of becoming infected and ... Open whole case