What's the difference in consulting experience between MBB+ (S&, OW etc) and prestigious boutiques?

Anonymous A asked on May 14, 2019 - 1 answer
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Anonymous updated his answer on Jun 03, 2019


Generally, the experience differs for every consultant, of course. However, having worked for both a boutique and an MBB+ I believe the following (non-exhaustive) list provides a first overview to address your question:

  1. Travel
    • Oftentimes, travel load is less in boutiques, which can vary, though. MBB+ usually require consultants to be on client site for 4 days per week
  2. Workload
    • Oftentimes, workload is less in boutiques, which can also vary, of course. Average hours per week in the boutique I worked amounted to about 50-60 hours. At MBB+ workload is more around 70 hours per week and sometimes more, including weekend work
    • Generally, the more specialized firms offer a better work-life balance than MBB+
  3. Promotion / Standing out
    • In boutiques there is usually less competition and pressure to advance and less stress. Most small consulting firms / boutiques do not have the up or out practices of MBB+. In addition, this allows a better opportunity to stand out based on performance.
    • Advancement may be quicker in boutiques because consultants have greater opportunity to get involved in tasks such as project management, proposal writing, and other business development activities
  4. Knowledge acquisition
    • Boutiques potentially offer greater opportunity to develop a deeper knowledge of the specialty of the firm since they focus on a narrower set of problems
  5. Bureaucracy
    • Less administrative work and fewer approvals required in boutiques

Hope this provides a first overview. Of course, the specifics differ by firm and by region. Also, when you decide for one or the other you should factor in your long-term objectives (e.g. when do you plan/do you plan an exit, desire to develop niche expertise vs. broad range of subjects etc.)

Best regards