Specialising at MBB

Bain & Company BCG MBB McKinsey
New answer on Jul 24, 2021
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 23, 2021

Hi guys,

From anyone who has worked in MBB, I want to know if it is possible to specialise coming in after post-grad. I know a lot of these firms like to train their analysts into different industries and specialisations, but personally, I am not into finance, I am not into operations, what I enjoy is brand strategy, pricing models etc.. and I know these firms have sales/marketing/branding divisions, but is it possible to specialise in these divisions immediately? 

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Ian
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replied on Jul 23, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Yes and no.

Unfortunately, you are joining firms that embrace the generalist model. If you are coming in as a consultant or lower, you're going to have to be a generalist (I didn't know anyone who specialized).

That said, there are two caveats:

1) Platinion / GAMMA are obviously specializations you can join

2) you are still very much naturally allocated to the things you know due to the process of "natural selection"

Elaborating on #2, there is a "matching process" that occurs to staff projects in the pipeline. The staffing manager tries to put you on projects you'll do well on. Partners/Principals pick consultants they think they will do well on. 

As such, your prior history absolutely influences the projects you get put on (whether they admit it or not). Anectodally, almost all of the projects I was staffed on had an IT/Agile element to them, because that was the expertise I had coming into the job!

So, yes and no to your answer :)

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Agrim
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replied on Jul 23, 2021
ex-BCG Dubai PL | 100% Personalised Coaching | 2021 Real Cases only | 6+ years in Consulting

Hi Anon,

Couple of dimensions to consider:

  • Expert or general consultant. Most general consultants don't specialise until later into their Project Leader / Manager tenure. As a general consultant, you will be mostly considered for any and all projects.
  • Past experience. Many chances are that your initial project assignments will be aligned with your past experience. If that matches your interests - then good! If not, then don't lose heart.
  • Staffing team. Check with the staffing team the project pipeline. Let them know your specific interests so they can try to staff you better. 
  • Look around. Search for opportunities aligned with your experience. Talk to other consultants, managers, and even partners. Other people your presence and preferences will help.
  • Hanging on. No need to feel demotivated by initial non-aligned assignments. Take those projects as a learning opportunity to sharpen your skills so that when your perfect project comes - you are ready to shine.

Hope this helps!

Agrim

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Florian
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replied on Jul 23, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | Imbellus Expert

Hey there,

Yes, that is totally possible. For instance, I was pulled into my first engagement due to my interests and experience and stuck with that industry until I left. I made it 'formal' by joining the practice officially 11 months after starting at McK.

It's all about your internal network and the relations you build. Reach out to relevant partners as soon as you start so they have you on their radar.

All the best!

Cheers,

Florian

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Majed
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replied on Jul 23, 2021
Get your offer from McKinsey Dubai! Will help you navigate the process no B.S. approach.

If you are hired as a generalist consultant, you are expeceted to have exposure to different industries/functions at least during the first 2 years. Having said that, you can start associating yourself with your preferred practice from day one, especially if you have the relevant background. This should increase your chances of doing more of your preferred work during your first 2 years. By the time you are managing project, you will be already known as the "marketing" or "banking" person in the office. Best of luck!

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Erica
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updated an answer on Jul 23, 2021
Ex-McKinsey / 100% offer rate / LBS / Principle driven / Real case/ If you get the interview, you should get the offer!

Hi there. Usually for junior consultants, you don't have much say on which project you're staffed on, unless you have specialty or abundant knowledge for certain industry/topic. At the early stage, your objective should be to get staffed as much as possible in order to level up your consulting skills. Once you've had enough project experience, you will be approached by partners from different practice, which is when you have the freedom to choose the field you're most intrested in. 

Hope this helps!

(edited)

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Ken
Expert
replied on Jul 23, 2021
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

If you have some prior experience than you can join the Marketing & Sales practice directly even straight out of school. My sense is that it would really depend on the geography, if you are joining a large office/region like the US, there's enough work for you to choose and specialise early if you want. If the contrary, then you will have to focus on the work that is driving the office revenue which could be anything.

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Antonello
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replied on Jul 24, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Yes you can, even if you are not supposed to do it until you become a senior manager. As an experienced hire, you have the chance very often to direct the staffing in the practice you are more expert in and after few project you'll never change, becoming actually a practice affiliate :)

Best,
Antonello

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Francesco
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replied on Jul 24, 2021
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

Most of the time, in MBB you start to “formally” specialize when you become a Manager. However:

  1. You may join a specific division right after an MBA (eg Digital, Operations). In this case, you will work on projects related to that division most of the time
  2. You may “informally” start to specialize early on as Analyst/Associate. You can do so by creating strong relationships with people in a certain practice (eg Energy/Industrial goods) and try to be staffed on those projects. This will naturally evolve with you moving to that particular practice “formally” once you grow up in seniority. The more you can show expertise in a certain area before joining, the more likely you can do so from the beginning

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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