Many of my classmates are recruiting for consulting and they urged me to prepare as well, so I kind of followed the crowd, but I don't really understand what value consulting brings. The majority of consulting firms' websites talk about clients and positive impact but it's not so clear what they mean.
I've had coffee chats with multiple consultants and partners and they love to tell me how they are making a measurable impact and work on exciting problems. But when I press further it doesn't seem that impressive: increasing sales of a product, post merger stuff, acquisitions for private equity, digital transformations... nothing groundbreaking or innovative really. And then when I google the biggest consulting firms, a lot of disturbing stuff pops up, almost all of which is regarding McKinsey & Company:
- turbocharging opioid sales resulting in a epidemic in the US
- restricting the caloric intakes of people in detention, cutting spending on medical supplies of ICE detainees
- increased jail violence instead of reducing it in New York, USA
- massive corruption scandal in South Africa and grossely overcharged a state-owned power utility
- bankrupted Swiss Air
- involved with various despotic governments, corrupt figures, and authoritarian regimes
The list goes on, it's pretty damning but I'm trying to keep this short. Even a guy who used to work there said to the New York Times "This is the banality of evil, M.B.A. edition. They knew what was going on. And they found a way to look past it, through it, around it, so as to answer the only questions they cared about: how to make the client money and, when the walls closed in, how to protect themselves."
All that to say that I'm truly lost regarding what positive value consulting really brings. I found those incidents with a 10 min google search so I'm afraid of what I would find if I actually joined a consulting firm. Would I spend my summer increasing the sales of perfume, then during the fall further cement authoritarian regimes and then in the winter help a PE firm extract value from a start-up? Or is it just McKinsey & Company that is evil, like the Goldman Sachs of investment banking?
Please help, I'm so confused and I feel like no one around me can answer objectively.