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Software Engineer to MBB/Tier-2 or Boutique consulting to MBB/Tier-2?

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Recent activity on Feb 11, 2019
2 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 11, 2019

I have a Master of Science degree in Computer Engineering from a non-target school (top 40) with a GPA of 3.71. No full time experience (4 years Bachelor's in Engineering + 1.5 years Master of Science) (but good EC and a couple internships in tech industries) I am confused between 2 possible career paths at the moment-

1. Should I join a boutique consulting firm (~900 employees, $50M-$100M revenue) as an Associate and make a switch to MBB/Tier-2 within 2-3 years? (95% of their clients are pharma companies)

2. Should I join a mid-size product company (~220 employees, $10M-$25M revenue) as a Software engineer and make a switch to MBB/Tier-2 within 2-3 years? (I would like to explore strategic/management consulting and not just be a tech consultant if I make a switch)

What are your thoughts on both these scenarios? Is an MBA the only option for a Software engineer (with MS degree + 2-3 years exp) to break into consuling?


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replied on Feb 11, 2019
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

if you want to switch after 2-3 years, option 1 would be better. However, the fact that such company is limited to pharma may limit your exit opportunities; it would also make sense to check on LinkedIn if such a transition has been possible historically – the brand of the boutique will matter for that.

Option 2 won’t realistically allow to switch after 2-3 years unless you first do an MBA, which means that you will effectively be able to switch in 4-5 years. You may also try to go for a product manager role and then follow a digital path, but it would not be the easiest/fastest way to get into MBB.

As an additional option, you may check if there are alumni of your school currently working in MBB and second tier, and try to network now an opportunity to interview with those firms. You can find more about that at the following link:

If you are interested to know more about the exact steps to maximize conversion for referrals, please feel free to PM me.



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Keval on Feb 11, 2019

Thanks for your response, Francesco! Historically, I've seen a few people make a transition to tier 2 companies after a couple years at this boutique, but I'm not sure if it's a guarantee that I'll manage to get an interview call. What if I try switch to MBB/tier 2 within the first 15 months as a Software engineer? I wanted to enter the consulting world through MBB or tier 2.

Francesco on Feb 14, 2019

Hi Keval, I believe it would be quite difficult to switch as Software Engineer after 1.5 years, unless you first do an MBA, which will bring the effective time to more than your current target of 2-3 years. Option 1 thus seems to be a better fit given your goals. Hope this helps, Francesco

Keval on Feb 14, 2019

Thanks for getting back to me, Francesco. How can I prepare myself for a transition to MBB/Tier-2 in the case where I end up joining the boutique firm where 95% of their clients are in the Pharma domain (they do have some big names as their clients)?

Francesco on Feb 18, 2019

Hi Keval, besides the usual preparation on cases and fit, I would try to network with people in your target companies, so that they can facilitate a referral at the time when you apply. Hope this helps, Francesco

replied on Feb 11, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


  1. If it is a pure software engineer - it will be probably easier to make make a transfer from a boutique firm
  2. If you get a Data Science / product manager role - it can be a great advantage if applying to the digital arms of the MBB companies. Note that in McKinsey digital you may be working on both digital and generalist projects.


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Keval on Feb 11, 2019

Hi Vlad, thanks for responding. The transition from Software Engineer to Product Manager role might take about 5 years or more. Will it be too late to make a switch to MBB/Tier-2 firms then? Or should we try doing an MBA after 3-4 years of experience as a Software engineer and then make a switch?


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