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What are my chances of getting into MBB?

applying or not to consulting and chances MBB
New answer on Dec 11, 2023
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 04, 2023

I am 36 years old and I was a pastor in a church for 10 years, but transitioned out of that in 2022. I've had some success in that job (grown “departments”, pioneered initiatives, developed leaders etc.) if that info helps.

I first joined a small HR consulting firm for about a year, and then move to become an L&D manager for a company of around 1000 employees. 

I have ambitions to join MBB for career development + acceleration and personal challenge + branding. I intend to enroll into an executive MBA at INSEAD if all goes well I will complete by 2026, at which I would be 38 years old. Don't intend to stop working while I am studying, so will just make it work.

Aiming to either get into MBB either in Asia or in Australia, but open to other regions. 

The investment cost to get an MBA/GEMBA at INSEAD is very high, so I would like to know my chances. Considering my age, and my academic background (only have an Arts degree, not academically strong) I would like to at least know if this would weigh heavily against me. 

I know the program in INSEAD would not be a walk in the part, but I'm at a point in my life where I've got a strong desire to grow and reinvent myself.

Appreciate all of your help + input! Thanks in advance.

(edited)

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Lorenzo
Expert
replied on Dec 11, 2023
University of St.Gallen graduate | Learn to think like a Consultant | Personalized prep | CV review

Your background is unique and brings a diverse set of experiences to the table. Transitioning from a pastor to HR consulting and L&D management demonstrates adaptability and leadership skills. Here are some considerations for your situation:

1. Age and Academic Background:

  • While you might be older than the typical MBA candidate, your professional experience, leadership in the church, and success in HR consulting can be significant assets. Admissions committees often value diverse backgrounds and experiences. However, it's important to highlight how your previous roles have equipped you with skills relevant to business and consulting.

2. INSEAD's Executive MBA Program:

  • The Executive MBA program at INSEAD is designed for experienced professionals. Your age aligns with the typical demographic for MBA candidates. Emphasize the unique skills and perspectives you bring to the program due to your diverse background, and how this diversity will enrich the learning experience for you and your peers.

3. Career Transition to MBB:

  • Transitioning to MBB is challenging but not impossible. Your leadership experience, ability to develop leaders, and success in growing departments are valuable assets. Highlight how these skills can contribute to the consulting world. Showcase specific achievements in your current roles that demonstrate strategic thinking, problem-solving, and business acumen.

4. Networking and MBB Connections:

  • Networking is crucial for MBB applications. Leverage your existing professional network and consider informational interviews with professionals in MBB to understand the skills they value and how your background aligns with their needs.

5. GMAT/GRE Scores:

  • Your academic background is in arts, and while it's not uncommon for individuals with non-business degrees to pursue an MBA, strong standardized test scores (GMAT/GRE) can help strengthen your application. Be sure to prepare thoroughly for these exams.

6. Personal Statement and Recommendations:

  • Your personal statement and letters of recommendation are critical. Clearly articulate your motivation for pursuing an MBA, how your past experiences have prepared you for this, and your vision for the future. Strong, personalized recommendations can also make a significant difference.

7. Alternative Paths:

  • Consider alternative paths to MBB. Given your HR and L&D background, you might explore consulting roles in these specific areas or management roles in industries where your unique skill set is valued.

8. Financial Considerations:

  • Assess the financial implications of pursuing an EMBA at INSEAD. Evaluate potential returns on investment in terms of career opportunities and personal growth. Consider whether there are other programs or opportunities that align with your goals at a lower cost.

9. Admissions Consultation:

  • Consider reaching out to the admissions team at INSEAD for personalized advice. They can provide insights into how your background aligns with their program and share information on successful candidates with similar profiles.

In summary, while there are challenges, your unique background can be a strength. Clearly articulate your story, align your experiences with business skills, and leverage your network to increase your chances of success in both the EMBA application and the transition to MBB.

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Dec 05, 2023
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

I just want to add a few points to the discussion as food for thought:

  • What did you not like about the boutique consulting role you held for a year that made you leave the firm? And what makes you think this will be different at MBB?
  • Would you only want to get an MBA at INSEAD in order to increase your chances for MBB or do you have alternative plans to leverage the degree in case MBB doesn't work out? An investment of this magnitude seems out of proportion if you “mainly did it for MBB purposes”
  • Your background is definitely not conventional for consulting which is not a disadvantage. But it also sounds like you are not a specialist in any particular area and you are already at the age common for senior managers in consulting (a level where you should have a specialization). An MBA program will not really turn you into a specialist either
  • If a career in consulting is your declared goal, then I think you should get into consulting as soon as possible. Leverage your past track record in the HR consulting firm to get a footing in another, potentially smaller scale consulting firm first and build out your skills and expertise - then you will also see how you like the daily consulting grind over an extended period of time
  • If you then decide that consulting is still the right fit, you can try to enter MBB coming from that vantage - plus you would bring a relevant skill set and expertise to the table MBB could leverage from day 1 if they hired you

There are lot of factors and interdependencies involved of course. It would certainly be a good idea to thoroughly vet your options before comitting to a costly MBA program.

Best

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Anonymous A on Dec 06, 2023

Thanks Dennis for your input. To answer your points: My challenge at the firm I left was not so much in the type of work, but rather the way the firm was run. It was a small operation (a team of 4), and we a lack of direction and gameplan which I felt was important for the growth of the firm (something the partner told me he wanted to do, but I did not see any real action towards that). Fair point. I think the reason I would want to do the EMBA is for personal growth and branding, and I believe it can be a leverage of sorts to other opportunities (which is not limited to MBB) in other parts of the world (I am in SE Asia). The question of whether that kind of benefit is worth the investment remains. Good idea on trying for other consulting firms. I will look into that.

(edited)

Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Dec 05, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

I would probably just flag 2 risks here that haven't been considered yet (true risk is the risk we don't know):

  1. An Exec MBA and Part-time MBA is, as a probability/percentage, much less fruitful than a full-time MBA for the consulting pipeline
  2. An MBA in x region is generally best for x region, not y region. This is particularly true outside of the US
    1. For example, Australia recruits mostly out of LBS, not Insead (and, of course, unis like UQ, UMelbourne, etc.)

Definitely consider hiring a coach for 1 session to come up with a game plan. Kind of like financial/wealth planning, you don't quite know what you don't know, and upfront planning with someone who knows a lot can help you avoid all those mistake before you make them…for a critical life/career choice.

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Anonymous A on Dec 06, 2023

Thanks Ian, good idea on getting a coach. I think I need help in properly framing my goals and motivations and then translating that into a realistic plan. I have read that INSEAD and also heard that INSEAD is highly regarded in Australia, but perhaps that is subjective as compared to their renown in Europe and Asia.

Ian on Dec 06, 2023

Yes! It's honestly worth it to get more clarity and have an optimal plan of attack. Feel free to message me if interested - I'm based in Australia, worked for BCG Australia and run workshops here (University of Queensland, Kearney, etc.)

Anonymous A on Dec 06, 2023

That's wonderful to know Ian, I will keep you in mind while I figure out the next steps.

Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Dec 04, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

First of all, you have a very cool background. 

Feel free to reach out for an intro chat. I've worked with several other 35+ candidates transitioning into consulting and several of them with exotic backgrounds. 

But yes, based on how you describe it, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to get into consulting. 

What would be healthy to do is set your expectations right. Meaning that if firms such as MBB tend to hire a more ‘typical' profile, then it doesn't make sense to put all your hopes into going straight for those. I know people who switched to consulting and worked their way up through two other firms over the course of 3-4 years before eventually joining MBB. You could do the same. 

In terms of the MBA, it could certainly help, but I'm not convinced it's a must (would need to understand your background a bit better for this). Sharing an article that I wrote about this which goes into it in more detail:


Good luck!
Cristian

 

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Anonymous A on Dec 05, 2023

Thanks Cristian! I appreciate the offer - I might take you up on it for that intro chat. Will reach out directly.

Pedro
Expert
replied on Dec 04, 2023
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

While the MBA will improve your CV and MBB like to recruit MBAs, they usually do so for full time MBAs at an earlier point in their career. 

By the way, one of the reasons they hire young MBAs is because the MBA signals high long term potential. The same logic does not apply when you are 38.

A better route would be to get there through networking. But a more realistic route is to get there through a boutique strategy and become a strong strategy specialist in a specific niche. At that point, the expertise in conjunction with a top MBA may give you good chances of being hired.

 

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Anonymous A on Dec 05, 2023

Hi Pedro, good suggestion. That is the reason why I am targeting INSEAD - I have heard from people I Know personally that their alumni network is very strong and most individuals are very helpful. Going to another firm and then using that as a platform to leverage is good advice too, thank you.

Pedro on Dec 05, 2023

I would first try to go into a strategy boutique - and only afterwards go for the MBA.

Anonymous A on Dec 06, 2023

Thanks Pedro, I will start looking at some potential firms I can apply to.

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Dec 05, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: Considering my age, and my academic background (only have an Arts degree, not academically strong) I would like to at least know if this would weigh heavily against me. 

It is not impossible to join a consulting company late, but as mentioned by Frederic, usually at 38+ they hire people for expert roles.

In your case, I would recommend the following:

  1. Network with consultants in MBB + Tier 2 + Boutiques, targeting alumni of your university. Even if you target MBB long-term, a few years in other consulting companies could validate your profile for a future transition.
  2. Apply now to those companies with a referral. You can find more on referrals here.
  3. If it doesn't work and you think the INSEAD EMBA would be useful even if you don't get into MBB and you consider it the best option for your career, do the EMBA (I would not recommend doing it with the sole goal of MBB).
  4. Apply again after the EMBA to MBB + Tier 2 + Boutiques.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Anonymous A on Dec 06, 2023

Thanks Francesco. That is good advice. Don't do the EMBA solely to get into MBB. I would need to reflect on my goals and motivations for doing so. Going into a Tier 2 / Boutique Consulting is a good recommendation too, and a more realistic goal perhaps.

Frederic
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Dec 04, 2023
ex Jr. Partner McKinsey |Senior Interviewer| Real Feedback & Free Homework between sessions|Harvard Coach|10+ Experience

Hi there, thanks for sharing your background in detail. Really inspiring to hear your trajectory and commitment to lifelong learning. Having said this, I would want to be realistic with you and have doubt whether MBB would be the right and likely choice for you. At this stage of life MBB tends to recruit experts rather then generalists (which you would be given your background). Warm regards, Frederic 

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Anonymous A on Dec 05, 2023

Thanks for that insight Frederic.

Lorenzo gave the best answer

Lorenzo

University of St.Gallen graduate | Learn to think like a Consultant | Personalized prep | CV review
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