What are the typical work day hours at a major consulting firm?

Bain & Company BCG dubai MBB McKinsey Singapore working conditions working hours
New answer on May 28, 2020
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Frank asked on Dec 17, 2017
Plan to practice twice a day starting on Nov. 28. Available 3 -5 pm and 7- 8:30 PM (New York time)

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Francesco
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replied on Dec 18, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (3.900+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Frank

as mentioned by Bill, working hours depend on the geography. In Dubai, Singapore and Southern Europe hours are usually longer (my experience in Italy was 9am-11pm Mon-Thu, 9am-8pm Fri and 70-80% of weekends with some working activities). Hours also depend on the type of project (on average, the shorter the project, the longer the hours, with at the extremes due diligences and last minute proposals).

Below you can find some tips to better organize your time and manage your relationships, given the challenges of the job:

  1. Allocate the time for what you need to do one week in advance. I recommend that you avoid daily allocations, as a weekly calendar is better to define the ideal free slots for calls/chat/dinners with people you want to keep in contact with. This will allow you to avoid to over promise things and align with both your job and personal needs.
  2. Clarify at the beginning of the project which are your personal/family needs with your supervisor. If you need to be free on a certain time or day on the weekend, the beginning of the project is the ideal time to speak. You cannot be sure that you will not have to work on your requested free time, of course, but it will be easier for you to negotiate it when needed
  3. Anticipate to friends and significant others your needs and schedule and define with them the best time to keep in touch. As before, it is better to make it clear you will likely not be available on certain days, in particular when strict deadlines are in place. They may not like the idea, but it will allow you to avoid conflicts later on.

Best,

Francesco

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Andrea
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replied on Dec 18, 2017
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

Frank,

I am aligned with what other said in terms of "there is no typical" day. That said for MBB in US what I have experienced and observed for Consultant level is (if local):

  • Mon - Thu 8am - 6.30pm at client, 8pm - 10pm from home/office
  • Fri 8.30am - 5pm with 70% client work and 30% office work (expenses, training, etc)
  • Weekend 1 hour catch up Sunday night to prep for the week

If you are on travel case plan to be at client at 10-11am on Monday morning and leave client on Thursday afternoon around 3pm.

Again as other said you can have more or less intense cases vs. the median one described above and varation can be pretty significant (+50% or -25% hours vs. above) with added weekend work.

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Nabil (Bill) replied on Dec 18, 2017
Currently preparing for McKinsey and Bain interviews.

Hi Frank,

There are no typical work day hours at a major consulting firm. Sure, on your contract, you may have a mention of an estimate of the total number of hours you can expect to work in a given year, however, the time you'll spend working at a major consulting firm will vary immensely.

For example, at McKinsey Dubai, the average workday lasts about 12 hours/day, with some consultants working even longer than that. You should also expect to work on week-ends (either entirely or partially), depending on how urgent the engagement you'll be working is. You will also have days where you'll be working less than 10 hours/day, especially if you're not staffed on an engagement, are in training, helping in recruiting and so on.

Long story short, consulting (especially at MBBs) is not a 9 to 5 job and most applicants are fully aware of how temporally taxing a career in consulting is.

Best,

Bill

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Anonymous replied on May 09, 2020

Hi A,

it's a very general question. It always depends on o the specific project. I can say regarding this that consultancy start his working day at 8.00-9.00 AM, depending on the office and the project. And end up working at 8-9 PM, sometimes until midnight, sometimes even 1-3 AM.

But it highly depends on the workload and the basis. Therefore, it's really hard to generalize


Best,


André

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Originally answered question:

MBB working hours in Dubai/Singapore

Anonymous B replied on Nov 23, 2017

I can speak only about Dubai only.

Consultant work long hours, that's how the industry is and mostly due to time and budget constraint on the projects.

MBB consultants based in Dubai work 12 hours per day on average. They mostly do projects in Saudi Arabia as that's' the main market for consulting these days. There is not much to do there, so people go to the hotel (usually Ritz Carlton in Riyadh) after the client site and continue from there.

Sometimes you need to pull an all-nighter and sometimes weekends are in danger too, if there is a tight deadline for a client deliverable or a proposal.

Hope this helps

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Clara
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replied on May 28, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hi!

To add on top what´s been said, it depens a lot on:

  • Geographies: some offices have terrible fame, such as Madri or Lisbon
  • Engagaments: this can be accountable of a +/- 50% of time increase

Cheers,

Clara

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B
Expert
replied on Feb 24, 2018
NOT AVAILABLE

Hey Frank,

This changes so much between geographies and projects - my experience ranged from weeks with <50h of work (Australia) to 120h+ (in Southern Europe).

Btw, for someone who is just caring about lifestyle, I do really recommend Australia, by far the best of all locations.

Best

Bruno

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Originally answered question:

MBB working hours in Dubai/Singapore

Peter
Expert
replied on Nov 29, 2017
Ex-Bain & Company Case Team Leader * Placed 40+ MBB candidates as Partner in Europe's leading top-tier Consulting recruiting firm

Singapore has a reputation of being one of the hardest working markets for MBB firms. The culture is thorough and straight-laced, with demanding clients and tough competition.

Dubai is (relatively) much more relaxed, with relatively consistent ~12 hour days during the week, with Saudi being a bit destination at the moment (for BCG in particular and some top-heavy McKinsey teams) due to the massive national restructuring underway there.

Regular weekend work is relatively rare in MBB across almost all markets (I can think of exceptions in Italy and South Korea), but obviously sometimes it is necessary and the frequency of which will come down to the quality of case leadership and partner client management. As a junior, you have to hope you're working with good people.

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Réka
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updated an answer on May 19, 2020
3+ years McKinsey consulting experience|Oxford MBA|On a break

Hi Frank,

I agree with the previous comments, geography is a big factor. Besides Australia, The Netherlands has a reputation for good lifestyle, too.

The type / length of the project matters a lot as well. If you work on a 3-4 weeks long due diligance, you'll likely won't go to bed before 11/midnight. On the other hand, if the project is a 5-6 months+ implementation study, you'll have a much higher chance of a more balanced lifestyle (still not 9 to 5).

During my 3 years at McKinsey, I hardly remember any occasions when I had to work at the weekend, though.

Best,

Réka

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Anonymous replied on Dec 27, 2017

Hi,

I largely agree to the answers given. It is difficult to provide a general answer to this question since it depends on a few factors like


a) Team and Project Leader you are working with

b) Country you are working in

c) Client aspiration/experience to work with consultants

d) Your personal working style and effectiveness

Based on these four factors your hours can vary significantly. I have made the experience that d) your personal working style and effectiveness is the major driver for working hours. So if you have clear principles and learn to work effectively you can have a reasonable lifestyle despite tough projects.

Best,

Jan-Phillipp

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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