Am glad you raised this question.
Time to promotion and eventually making partner is on every management consultant's mind when they start off.
Allow me to share my experience and knowledge in detail.
Speed to make partner/managing director at Other Big Consulting Firms vs MBB
This will depend on following factors:
- Unwavering focus & commitment
- Your own clear expertise, brand & client network- deep industry/functional skills
- Sponsorship & support from leadership team & loyalty to the company
- Team followership i.e. junior people dying to work with and for you
- Solid pipeline of work (many millions as you can imagine) and this will depend on the geography, demand, economy etc
If you get the above right, from analyst to partner lets say at BIG4/Accenture roughly takes 10-15 years and 8-12 years at MBB. If you are exceptional, you can shave off 2-3 years overall but that will require significant commitment and investment of time, effort and life :).
If you join the company as an experienced hire at a certain level, all the above factors still apply and timeline could be longer given you will need time to establish yourself.
Partners who slack off will get caught & managed out or their pay cut. This has happened across MBB and BIG4 in the past 6-9 months.
And yes, standards and performance criteria are a bit higher and stricter in MBB vs others. This also means that if you are NOT making the promotion point in the right time window, you will be managed out subtly or will leave on your own accord. The rates of elimitation will vary (by office location, industry focus and many other factors) and I dont think you will get accurate data on this. But this does happen. The pressure to sustain is too high and your peers outperform you. Other big consulting companies have also started to see this approach scale up subtly- no one obvsiouly openly advertises an up or out policy.
Smaller/Boutique consulting firms are moving away from such a culture to be more inclusive and patient with people. Some of them are even eliminating sales targets for anyone below partner/managing director level.
Maturity, Balance and Timing
This is a marathon and not a sprint. I have seen too many friends and acquintances burn out or face some form one mental trouble. This may sound like a generalisation but its true. Most of the people who faced this issues are hyper intelligent, super hard working but very insecure at the same time. They made partner/Managing Director in their early 30s. Without the right balance in your mind and body, its diffiult to sustain this success and expectations.
I personally learnt to pace things, ignore timelines and goals created by peers and stick to my talent while constantly improving. I rather prefer a 42 year old partner who is balanced and inspiring than a 30 old partner who is super talented but a shaky human being- so getting hung up on age, speed to the top etc can be very misleading!
If you are thinking along these along lines, my advice will be this:
- Be ambitious and genuinly understand what it takes to go all the way in MBB or other big firms- Is that what your really want ?
- Invest your time and effort in things that you really want to do. Those things that will make you joyful and allow you to give your best
- Pace yourself. Prepare yourself for the marathon & get there while becoming a mature, balanced and pleasant human being and not an arrogant, insecure one
- Take risks and dont end up doing things for the wrong reasons- money, peer pressure, impatience etc
- Inspire people around you, make their life better in whatever way you can