Shifting offices from ME to SEA

MBB Middle East South east asia
New answer on Jun 10, 2020
10 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 02, 2020

I am going to join one of the top consluting firms in the ME (think Mck, BCG, S&, Kearney etc.) and I am keen on moving to a SEA office in a few years (personal reasons).

1. Is it possible to make the move to a SEA office permanently from the ME office? If not directly, will getting an MBA help?

2. Which SEA offices can I target from the ME office (I am an Asian with only English language skills, with a Masters in Business from a European university)

3. I am currently in Europe and some people that I spoke with mentioned that work experience in Dubai is looked down upon, as clients are not as advanced in the ME and cases aren't as challenging. They also mentioend that it is difficult to come back to an English speaking European office like London. To what extent is this true? Does it work the same way for English speaking SEA offices like Singapore?

Thanks!

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Réka
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replied on Jun 03, 2020
3+ years McKinsey consulting experience|Oxford MBA

Hi,

1) Yes, it is possible, but transfers do not happen automatically. You have to build a network of supporters in both your home and host offices and of course great performance helps your case too. I don't think an MBA would particularly help in this case, unless you apply again to another office instead of tranferring, which I would avoid if you have a chance for an internal transfer.

3) I worked in multiple regions within McKinsey incl the Middle East and I haven't felt that projects were looked down on. If anything, there was a sense of cool things going on there, projects that might have an impact on entire countries. Plus, even if the clients are "not as advanced", the quality of the colleagues is the same.

I hope it helps!

Best,

Réka

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Emily
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 02, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi there,

I was with BCG SEA (Singapore office) and I can share with you what I know.

(1) Yes it is possible to make permanent move. If you are a top performer, you would be wanted almost everywhere. If you already in the company, there is no need for an MBA.

(2) Singapore would the most convenient office from a language perspective, though it is also the most competitive office. Otherwise, you can also survive in KL and Jakarta with English.

(3) No, I don't think so. Actually this is the first time I heard about such opinion. We have all levels (consultants, managers and partners) who moved over from ME. Plus, many SEA clients are not "advanced" either, but that doesn't mean the case is not challenging. It is challenging in different ways.

Best,

Emily

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Anonymous on May 07, 2021
Hello Emily, for Malaysian students who are at a target business school in the US/EU, is choosing Singapore office a viable option, or they are stuck with KL? Personally, my family is in Johor Bahru, much closer to Singapore than KL. I feel that staying in Singapore is a better fit for me post MBA.

(edited)

Clara
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 02, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Here are my toughts:

  1. Yes, without problems
  2. You should not have problems a priori with any, but SIngapore, that it´s very demanded for the tax schedule there
  3. I have heard the same... that level is not comparable. Honestly, I think it´s only rumours, but that harms enaugh.

HOpe it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Udayan
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replied on Jun 02, 2020
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

I shifted offices at McKinsey and it definitely is possible

1. Yes if the following holds true

  • You are a high performing BA/Associate
  • You have ties to the region that you can prove
  • You have a good reason to move (personal and professional)
  • You have support from at least one senior partner in that office

2. I would say Manila is your best bet, followed by Jakarta, SIngapore and KL

3. If you are transfering from within the company this should not be a big issue. MBB recruits top talent globally they dont have different bars for a region. But yes even I have heard of that perception at times, but it has not stopped anyone I know from transferring

All the best,

Udayan

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Anonymous replied on Jun 02, 2020

Hi there,

1) and 2) Switching office locations is not a problem - I have seen friends switch from their Dubai office (and European offices) to SEA - most of them ended up in KL or Singapore.

3) MBB projects in the Middle-East are shaping up the economy of the whole region - yes, it is not like working in a super fast-pace location like London or NY, but it is still very impactful and challenging. As far as I know, there are more consultants on the waiting list to join Dubai's offices than the other way around ;)

Welcome to "Habibi land" :)

Best

Khaled

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6
Anrian
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updated an answer on Jun 02, 2020
Kearney Senior Manager | Ex McKinsey Engagement Manager | Interviewer & Case Coach at McKinsey (200+ Real Interviews)

Hi There,

  1. Yes, it is possible with or without MBA - as long as you have a "sponsor" to help your movement. I have a lot of friends who did that (moved from Dubai to SEA). Once you got into the firm, you should ask around about the possibility of office movement. It usually takes 1.5-2 years for someone to make a move.
  2. In terms of getting working permits, these countries are considerably easier than the rest: Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia. In terms of English capability, I think Malaysia, Singapore, Philipines are ahead.
  3. In my personal view, that is not really true. Again, I have seen people coming from Dubai office to SEA (Singapore included), and never heard from people that the client is behind. I think if clients in Dubai are looked down and behind, I am not sure how I can describe clients in SEA :)

Hope this helps!

(edited)

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Norah
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replied on Jun 02, 2020
I am here to get you an offer! | Got 8 offers including the 3 MBBs and non MBB like Wyman, Roland Berger, Strategy&.

Hello Anonymous,

Thank you for the relevant questions.
Here are my detailed answers:

1. Yes it is possible to transfer from an office to another for personal reasons after 2-3 years. You just have to specify personal reasons. You just need to precise the reasons to your local HR. However, gaining an MBA might strengthen your profile for recruiters (for example if you have an MBA from INSEAD and you have been in the Singapore campus, you will encounter more strategy consulting firms on the campus). I would consider it as a plus and not a must.
2. I think that's a fair assumption to say that having a knowledge of language skills is great but again not a must. It will be more difficult in some countries (like Vietnam for example) but it is feasible.
3. I do not agree to be honest. I have personally worked on projects in the ME region and they are very challenging and stimulating. Also, ME is super emerging and you will get a lot of exposure to growth topics. Moving back to London or SEA for example is completely feasible and I know hundreds of consultants who made that move.
I hope that helps.

Norah

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Anonymous B on Jun 03, 2020
Thank you Norah that's super helpful
Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 03, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

1. 100% Ensure you perform well, align to a practice that's also in Asia, and make sure to develop connections that will allow you to move.

2. Singapore and Philippines are your best bet. That being said, once you start thinking about this in a year or so, network and talk to people...being on the "inside" you'll learn a lot more about what's reasonable!

3. Whether this is true or not, what maters much more is your personal connections. Moves and switches happen all the time, especially when you've already made it to the top tier. Don't worry about being 98th percentile versus 99th :)

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Anonymous replied on Jun 10, 2020

Hi,

1. Is it possible to make the move to a SEA office permanently from the ME office? If not directly, will getting an MBA help?

Yes, it's possible but it's a very standardized process and permanent tranfers always take time.

2. Which SEA offices can I target from the ME office (I am an Asian with only English language skills, with a Masters in Business from a European university)

Would prioritize Singapore as well

3. I am currently in Europe and some people that I spoke with mentioned that work experience in Dubai is looked down upon, as clients are not as advanced in the ME and cases aren't as challenging. They also mentioend that it is difficult to come back to an English speaking European office like London. To what extent is this true? Does it work the same way for English speaking SEA offices like Singapore?

I am not sure that is is true, maybe it's because ME offices are less generalist than European ones ??

Best,

David

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Anonymous replied on Jun 05, 2020

Dear A,

First of all, my congratulations to your offer in the Middle East! This is great career start. Regarding your transfer, it depends specifically on the company. Some companies like McKinsey, BCG or Roland Berger offer temporary office transfer for at least few years, which could be the first way for you to get to the targeted location. I think, between the Middle East and SEA - shouldn't be a big problem to get inside. On the other hand, other companies are not very willing to transfer the employees, especially from the Middle East.

Regarding your second question - Yes, it's true that the cases in the Middle East and clients not as advanced as in Europe, therefore the skills in consulting are not as applicable. If you want to do a career move by switching geographies, do you rather earlier than later. Because after managerial position you will be locked to the region. If you become a principal partner, you would need to stay in that specific region. And you would not be able to come back to other regions.

I hope it helps you and wish you best of luck.

André

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Réka gave the best answer

Réka

3+ years McKinsey consulting experience|Oxford MBA
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