Just focusing on the quality of work (type of projects etc.), is there a difference between MBB and other top tier consulting firms? If yes, what is it?
What's the difference between MBB and other top tier consulting firms?
I have experience in working in both 2nd and 1st tier consultancies. According to my experience:
- Quality is much Higher at MBB. To give you a sence, what you are doing as an analyst at big4, at mck will be done by research department or even outsorced students. Though it's worth to say that if your director at big4 will be ex MBB, quality will be much higher
- Knowledge base - McK knowledge base is extremely deep and helpfull. You have tons of materials on various topics
- Support - at MBB you will have lots of people taking care of extra staff - doing research, visual design of slides, sophisticated models, oursourcing for making surveys in the field. At big4 you'll do that staff yourself
- Costs - you will have better hotels, better dinners, better airline tickets, etc. This is important if you spend 90% of your life out of home
- Exposurte to senior management may be higher, though it depends on the country. Since the projects are more expensive at MBB, you may have more senior people involved
- Relocation to different countries - options highly depend on the org structure of MBB/Big 4 companiy. I've seen good and bad example in both. But since you have higher salaries and per diem, at MBB you'll definitely have a better lifestyle at MBB if you do relocation
Vlad and Hemant have provided some very good points, I would just add a couple of elements below. Notice that the answer would also depend on what you consider as other top tier consulting firm. I would personally not consider big 4 as 2nd tier, while Vlad did. In the comparison I would consider as other top consulting firm A.T. Kearney, Oliver Wyman, Roland Berger in Europe and this may change the answer provided. Also, as your question was specific on quality of work, I just focused on that.
- Previous experience in similar industry. MBB have more offices than other top strategy consulting firms, thus it would be easier to get access to previous material on a particular project done in a different location; you would not need to reinvent the wheel most of the time thanks to that.
- As for travel expenses, relocation, exposure and salaries (before partner level), in my experience (Italian market) there are no big differences between top consulting firms; I actually got a higher offer from a non-MBB firm when I started my career. That may be true just in certain countries, but I guess that happens as MBB also weight the brand name in the proposal, as they know this allows better exit opportunities compared to other companies.
1. Scope: work at MBB has a wider scope since they have the most number of consultants (~9000 for McKinsey) and have global reach, so you can switch around on different project types or sectors more (reality is slightly different -- typically you'd eventually want to focus on one sector)
2. Reach into C-level: most MBBs focus on "strategy consulting" vs "operations" and by nature of that work, it's for C-level audiences.
3. Exit Opportunities: MBB offers better and wider exits mostly as a direct result of #1 and #2 above.
4. Better networked: MBBs tend to "stick together" far more after their stints and hire each other to key roles typically. Not directly related to your Q, but it does impact the quality of work you do later in life.