Moving from tech to consulting?

BCG McKinsey and Bain Change Career
Edited on Apr 15, 2020
9 Answers
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PK asked on Feb 05, 2020
Director of Product at PayPal. Based in SF. Worked at Twitter, Yelp, Salesforce, Houzz in the past.

I have worked at strong tech companies like Twitter, Yelp, Salesforce, and PayPal (Venmo) as a product manager and am now interested in moving into consulting. I feel consulting will give me exposure to so many other industries that I may not have exposure to otherwise. I have a BS and MS in computer science from good schools but no MBA. Can I still make that move or should I get an MBA to switch industries?

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Emily
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updated an answer on Apr 15, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi PK,

You have got a lot great company names on your CV. If you would like to continue pursuing digital work, digital arms of the consulting firms e.g. BCG Digital Venture or McK Digital would love to have someone with such extensive and very relevant experience. Potentially opportunities could be either Product roles, or Venture Architect (more biz driven) roles.

In the digital arms, you would definitely have chance to work alongside the consultants on projects that has a digital component (in some cases might be the key component).

However, if you want to join the traditional consulting track i.e. the generalist, it would be more challenging given your background and experience seems more on Product/Tech so far. You won't be playing to your current strengths, but need to build new skills and business acumen. Just trying to give you the realistic picture here.

What's more, you also need to understand that the traditional consulting roles work in a different way from the digital arms (even though the gaps are probably closing, but still quite some differences). You need to consider the sub-culture, way of working etc. E.g. if you are sent to a remote jungle to work in pulp and paper manufacturing plants to fix their operational issues like machinary maintennace or shift planning for 6 months (this is my real experience), while most of the client operation teams are only high-school educated, are you okay with that?

Best,

Emily

(edited)

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Thomas
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replied on Apr 14, 2020
150+ interviews | 5+ years experience | Kearney & Accenture | Sold consulting startup| London Business School

Hey PK, I made a similar move as well (from creative industries to consulting) and it is very much possible for the more digital-oriented firms (or subsidiaries). What is good to keep in mind is that there are a few natural points (in terms of years of experience) to join consulting. I.e. it might make you more valuable to stay in tech for one more year. This varies slightly per firm so I recommend you to look at job openings.

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Hugo
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replied on Apr 10, 2020
Digital entrepreneur turned BCG consultant // Coach with focus on PEI

PK,

I did exactly the same move, I built 3 companies prior to consulting.

As a few people said beforehand, working in product is definitely an advantage. I also think that moving from hot tech companies to consulting - if you really thought about it - is an advantage vs. many applicants. Your interviewers will likely feel that your choice and decision is definitely matured.

Now, if you want to keep a product specialization, you also can apply for expert/specialists roles at many companies. McKindey Digital or DigitalBCG both hire specialists and generalist.

A few people ansered that your move might look weird as you are specialized. This was also what I hear from a lot of people myself. Indeed working in tech is sometimes wrongly seen as a holy goal. Fact is, you might want to go to consulting and leave your job for many reasons. On my end it was because I wanted to get exposed to a lot of different scenarios/projects. Keep also in mind that a lot of people going from consulting into tech fail.

Hope this helps :)

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Clara
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replied on Feb 06, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello Piyush,

I did the opposite move, from consulting to tech.

With the background you mention, I believe you would not need an MBA, since project & product management skills are highly demanded in MBB -on top of the fact that you will be probably used to the fast phase, tight deadlines, etc.-.

Leverage your contacts to get in touch with MBBs! Particularly those with special practices on tech, such as McKinsey Digital.

Good luck!

Cheers,

Clara

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PK on Feb 06, 2020
Is McKinsey digital considered at par with regular strategy division or are they considered like second class citiizens within McKinsey?
Anonymous A replied on Feb 05, 2020

That's fantastic experience. I have a similar background and am exploring consulting as well. By no means do you need MBA. The key is to leverage your good schools' networks--alumni databases are your friend--and reach out to people to ask about breaking in. Email many people, at least a few will reply as long as your email is concise and polite. Good luck!

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

Hi,

Being in Silicon Valley myself (also consulting + Tech but in a different order), giving you my 5 cents:

  • Product manager role is one of the highest valued in tech and you can make an amazing career
  • Now you are a specialist in something and you want to move back to the generalist. That's a strange move for me, since here in the US specialists are highly valued
  • The only reason why I think the move might make sense is the educational perspective. In consulting, you can learn a lot of things that will be relevant in the future PM career / startup

Best

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 06, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Piyush,

it is possible, in particular if you target companies or digital practices (eg McKinsey Digital or Accenture).

The likelihood to move there without an MBA depends on your involvement with strategy projects and if you can position your CV to show the strategy side of what you did.

I would recommend the following:

  1. Identify companies in your target location aligned with your experience in IT/Digital
  2. Restructure your CV so that it has a strategy orientation - you may consider professional help for that
  3. Work to get a referral; you can find more on referrals here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176

Best,
Francesco

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Ian
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updated an answer on Feb 06, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Piyush,

Absolutely you can!

I came from the same background, and, while I went the MBA route, I did find fellow ITers who made it through.

That being said, you may want to consider applying to the IT/Tech divisions of these firms to get your foot in the door. This can either be as a specialist consultant (as opposed to general), or applying directly to, say, Platinion at BCG. After a year or so you could then always pivot over to Generalist and/or a different function.

It's also good to find ways to signal your shift to consulting/strategy. So, change your resume wording to focus on the skills they look for. Attend forums, and within your own company launch company initiatives or raise your hand to take on different roles. Anything you can do that broadens your skillset more towards consulting will greatly help.

(edited)

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PK on Feb 06, 2020
Is it easy to move within BCG or McKinsey from their digital division to their strategy division? I am also not sure if the digital units will be able to match my current compensation of tech firms?
Luca
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replied on Feb 09, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

It's absolutely possible!

It would be easier to apply for "digital" roles, as Mckinsey Digital or BCG Gamma and Platinion. Feel free to reach me out for more information, I received an offer for McKinsey Digital and I could every detail you need.

Best,
Luca

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Emily gave the best answer

Emily

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BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University
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