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Might I be better off trying to go straight into industry than consulting?

Fred asked on Aug 04, 2018 - 4 answers

Hi all,

I'm about to go into an MBA (M7) and I'm interested in going into industry over the long-term, aiming to work up to a senior management position. At first I got the impression that working at MBB for a few years and then transitioning into industry and working my way up would be the best tactic. However, from looking further into it, it seems that might not be the case. I have read that if you do that then you end up in strategy roles in a support function without any real P&L or management responsibility, thus limiting the upside. Is this an accurate picture of the situation? I don't particularly like the proposition of ending up in a support/strategy role and being stuck there long-term.

Is it instead better to perhaps apply directly for internal leadership roles at companies post-MBA in one the streams such as production/supply chain mgmt or general management? It feels like this would provide more direct experience in a P&L capacity/management?

I guess an important question is how difficult is it to go from MBB to an industry role with any P&L/management responsibility and work up from there? And would it instead be more effective to go straight into industry? Which route would be quicker to get to a senior positon?

Many thanks in advance

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Francesco
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replied on Aug 04, 2018
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Hi Fred,

MBB have a wide variety of alumni who become CXO in some of the biggest companies worldwide, I would say thus you will be totally safe going into consulting if you target a senior management position. In general, coming from MBB will allow you to have a faster career track than going directly into the industry, therefore not only you won’t be stuck in a position, but could actually reach faster your goal.

There is one element though which is important to underline: it doesn’t make sense to go into consulting exclusively for the exit opportunities in the industry/faster career path if you are not passionate/interested in the consulting job per se. You need indeed to like the actual job to do well in consulting, which then will lead to good exits as well. Thus, if consulting is merely a faster way to reach your goal but you are not passionate about the job itself (whether you like or not case prep it’s a good initial proxy for that), it may be better to consider an industry role from the beginning.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Alessandro
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replied on Aug 04, 2018
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Hi there,

You are correct in that a lot of people from consulting go into strategy/internal consulting roles at company. However, I think this is mainly for two reasons:

  1. Personal preference: consultants usually enjoy the "consulting way of working", but in the long term prefer a more stable and less intense job. Internal strategy roles generally provide this, with a similar work process to MBB but with much more reasonable hours.
  2. Demand: While operational/P&L roles can recruit from many places beyond consulting, there is greater demand for companies to recruit consultants specificially for internal strategy roles, since consulting skillset is particularly advantageous for these positions.

However, this definitely does not mean that it is not possible to go into a job with operational/P&L responsibility. I know several people who have left my firm to join companies in middle/upper management roles, as a project/programme manager, etc.

Consulting will still definitely leave industry doors open for you, while providing you excellent training, a great brand on your CV, and after 2-3 years you will be able to apply for an industry role that could have taken you 5-6 years to reach through the internal route.

Hope that helps!

Benjamin replied on Aug 05, 2018
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Hi Fred,
You're touching a really interesting topic.
I think the answer depends on the industry you're considering.
- Some industries requires high expertise which can only be acquired with years of experience. For instance : Oil & Gas. In that case, my reco would be to identify the "key job" to enter this industry and apply directly for it

- some other industries are easier to access from the exterior, and would live more opporutnity to consultant, with possibilities to "jump" directly to ahead compared to people with same years of experience. That would be the case for industry such as consumer good, retails

- there is a hybrid option, where you alredy know which industry you want to work for and try to specialise your consulting perimeter very early on that specific industry. In that case, I think it make sense to leverage a consulting experience.

Best

Benjamin

Fred replied on Aug 05, 2018

Thanks both, these are very helpful insights.

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