Why just a very limited number of post-MBA consultants made it to manager?

MBA
New answer on May 01, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 13, 2020

Why just a very limited number of post-MBA consultants made it to manager? What is the percentage of post-MBA consultants make it to manager? I saw many people left in less than 2 years. Wouldn't staying for a few more months and become manager give them way better exit opportunities?

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Clara
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replied on Apr 13, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I don´t agree with you, at least for the case of Mckinsey. Actually most poeple who come back from MBAs make it to manager - EM, Engagement Manager- and then they leave.

You must differenciate between:

  • Returning MBAs: BAs who were sponsored and come back. They start operating as JEMs -Junior EMs- very soon (between 6 months and 1 year). They need to stay at least 2 years to pay their MBA debt with McK, and then they leave.
  • Non-returning MBAs: people who were not BAs before. They take longer to be JEMs and EMs but don´t have a time threshold for any debt, so they leave whenever.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Raj
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replied on Apr 13, 2020
Strategy&| ex-interviewer | 78+ coached |95% success @ MBB, S&, RB, LEK, OW, Big4 [SUCCESS STORIES BELOW]| engineer

Hey, great question.

I saw often post-MBA hires sticking around for 1-2 years, with a small proportion making the cut to Manager / Principal (depending on the firm).

Often a couple of things happened that caused this high churn in post-MBA hires:

  • Up or out - MBAs who hadn't done consulting before joining often faced a very steep learning curve especially compared to senior associates who had joined the firm as graduates and were trained from the ground up. This often meant engagement managers preferred not to train these new MBAs "on their dime" and would avoid staffing them. It was quite clear 6 months in a good proportion were struggling in the firm, with a handful really able to swim in the deep end. You'd see the firm pushing up or out at the first review cycle with those hires.
  • Reprioritised life goals (family etc.) - often the MBA hires were later in life settled with a husband / wife, and after securing a consulting gig for a year, would want to settle down or build a family. Either this meant taking time off or moving to industry for a slower pace.
  • Cost-cutting - often times firms hire heavily at MBA level to maintain good relationships with the key business schools and to continue to have a strong pipeline of future of talent encouraged by the school to apply to the firm. This can mean firm's overhire during times of an slowdown in the industry but to avoid damaging relationships with the M7 will not rescind offers. That said, when the time comes in a year to shed costs, who do they look to first, the new MBA hires in a over-hired Consulting class or the lower cost juniors?

Hope this helps - let me know if any other questions privately.

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Anonymous updated the answer on Apr 13, 2020

Hi there,

very good question! I am a post MBA and a Consultant and actually I am seeing many ex-MBA collegues that are leaving consulting before getting Managers. So the perception is similar to yours, for mainly two reasons:

  • More exposure to different sectors and broader network: If you do an MBA you have a stronger network which help to change the job. In addition most of the time you do an MBA to get to consulting for 2-3 years and then to come back to corporate with a better job position.So you are less worried to change job because you came from corporate.
  • Less skilled on the Consultant toolkit: post MBAs face several difficulties the first years to learn the common consulting toolkit (excel, powerpoint). you have to learn and do the job of a post-grad analyst/associate, so many of us they simply give-up and change the job.

I hope I have been clear and useful.

For further clarification do not hesitate to contact me in private

(edited)

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Vlad
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replied on Apr 13, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I think you are mixing correlation and causation:

  • The average lifetime as a consultant is 2 years. It's not related to the particular role, but its rather related to other factors (work-life balance, availability of exit opportunities, 2 years are enough for the resume)
  • The transition from the Associate to Manager is pretty straightforward. In fact, you start managing projects much earlier than the formal transition happens. So you can put the Junior Manager in your resume
  • Consulting companies are repaying the MBA debt for you and this requires exactly 2 years stay in the company

Best

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Emily
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updated an answer on Apr 14, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi there,

I don't think this is a post-MBA consutlant issue. I have a lot of ex-colleagues who were career consultants (meaning they joined consulting right out of undergrad) who left before being promoted to project leader / manger, if not even earlier before they get promoted from associate to consultant.

In general the turn over in consulting is very high. And the typical tenure of a role e.g. associate or consultant is 2 years. Some people move out not becuase they cannot make it to manager, but becaue they received an attractive offer outside and they want to move on to explore the world outside consulting or have more personal/family life. When you are a 2nd year consultant, sometimes the offer you get could be as good as a fresh project leader.

Best,

Emily

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on May 01, 2020
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Hi there,

I agree with Vlad, the turnover is pretty high in all the positions, not only between consultant and manager. Having said that, possible reasons for exiting before becoming manager are:

  • Up or out policy. The company made clear a promotion to manager is not in the short term and invited the person to look for other positions
  • Competitive offer. There are several industries with better compensation and/or working hours than consulting
  • Lack of fit. For people joining the first time after the MBA, it could be that consulting is just not the right fit as career

Best,

Francesco

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Luca
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replied on Apr 30, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

Hello,

It's not a given that you will have better exit opportunities as a manager. After an MBA you are plenty of alternatives and you can exploit the network that you built during your experience. That's so "attracting" for consultants that consulting firms use to put a "lock-in" condition on MBA sponsorships.

Best,
Luca

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Antonello
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replied on Apr 30, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,

the average turnover in consulting is 2 - 2.5 years, so it is quite normal to observe your data. Otherwise, it is not related to the fact of being experienced hired, but very often simply for interesting exit opportunities or work life balance improvements.

Best,

Antonello

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Clara gave the best answer

Clara

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McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut
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