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Pros / cons of lateral hire to MBB (from another consulting firm)

Anonymous A

Hi all,

I am currently a first-year pre-MBA associate (heading into my second year) at a 2nd tier consulting firm (Parthenon/LEK).

I recently secured a first round interview at an MBB, but wanted to get some career advice on whether it would be the right move.

My motivation to switch to MBB was driven by the following:

* My current firm does not travel and one of the things that attracted me to consulting was the opportunity to travel and get client exposure (which we do not get)

* Our work has mostly been due-diligences where we mostly conduct market research and can not interact with the target company. I would like to be more hands-on and have a wider variety of casework such as improving a company's performance and operations.

* By far the biggest difference is that we get promoted to the post-MBA level after ~4 years compared to MBB which is ~2 years. Given the interview timeline, I would be starting the role at the 1.5 year mark of my current job.

In terms of career goals:

* I am 100% set on getting an MBA. I would not want to return to my current firm due to the reasons above if I choose to do an MBA, so sponsorship does not matter. However, I would consider staying at MBB in the long term if I end up having a good experience there and could get sponsored by MBB.

* If I do not do this lateral move, the alternate plan would be to get another job at the 2 year mark and get my MBA 1-2 years later.

* My dream job is one that involves international travel & work and has some elements of marketing. I'd also like to do some work in both developing and advanced economies.

My questions are:

1. Is there any value in switching to MBB? Are there more exit opportunities available?

2. Would it be strange to start at the same role (from Associate to Associate) even though promotion wise, I would reach the same salary in the same amount of time?

3. Are there any other factors I have not listed that I should think about? I notice lateral hires at the associate level are not very common so wanted to check if it was a good or not so good route to take.

Thanks all!

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Guennael replied on 06/16/2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; Case prep seminar leader; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Vlad just gave a very solid answer, not much to add here besides confirmation along with a couple of additional data points:

1. One of my friends did boutique a couple of years, then joined BCG and did extremely well there

2. Another one was in tier 3 for a couple of years, then started from scratch in tier 2 for the brand name, and just made partner a few weeks ago

Both were extremely happy with their decision to switch, both professionally and from an earning's power perspective.

I think this isn't very common because few people are willing to "lose" 2 years. Sometimes though, you need to do a couple of steps back to move forward.

Good luck!

G.

ex-BCG Dallas

Vlad replied on 06/16/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I have experience in working in both 2nd and 1st tier consultancies. According to my experience:

  1. Quality of the deliverables is much Higher at MBB. To give you a sence, what you are doing as an analyst at the other firm, at MBB will be done by research department or even outsorced students. Though it's worth to say that if your director is ex MBB, quality will be much higher
  2. Exit opportunities - you can have good and bad exits both from MBB and other firms. But on average chances for a good exit at MBB are higher.
  3. Knowledge base - MBB knowledge base is extremely deep and helpfull. You have tons of materials on various topics
  4. Support - at MBB you will have lots of people taking care of extra staff - doing research, visual design of slides, sophisticated models, oursourcing for making surveys in the field. At big4 you'll do that staff yourself
  5. Benefits - you will have better hotels, better dinners, better airline tickets, etc. This is important if you spend 90% of your life out of home
  6. Exposure to senior management may be higher, though it depends on the country. Since the projects are more expensive at MBB, you may have more senior people involved
  7. Relocation to different countries - options highly depend on the org structure of the company. I've seen good and bad example in both. But since you have higher salaries and per diem, at MBB you'll definitely have a better lifestyle at MBB if you do relocation

Re your second concern about career growth - it's totally fine since MBB brand is much more known.

Best!

(edited)