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Work-Life Balance in Consulting?!

Anonymous A asked on Oct 02, 2019 - 6 answers

Hi everyone!
Is it possible to achieve work life balance in consulting? Can you give me some insights into your experiences? Especially for Women in Consulting?

Thank you!

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Giulia
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replied on Oct 02, 2019
McKinsey Business Analyst | 3+ years Experience | Extensive experience in case preparation
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Hi,

I have experience with multiple offices of MBB consulting. It depends on what you intend for "work-life balance". You can always make space for what you are interested in, but the work is very demanding.

12h per day is considered a good lifestyle in all European offices (9am to 9pm), you are on the client site (either in the same city of your office or in another one) from Monday to Thursday in most offices, in others can be Monday to Friday. Some projects can reach midnight, 1am, 2am or 3am every day easily. I would say the average is 9am to 11pm, with a better lifestyle in north European countries and Australia.

On the bright side, the people are so amazing that you suffer much less the long hours. I've been very lucky and in 3 years my average was 9am to 9pm and only worked 3-4 weekends, 1h max, but I'm considered an exception.

There are also a lot of flexibility programs available if you need more time for yourself or the family, the firm is very supportive on that and it doesn't affect your evaluation

Emily
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replied on Oct 14, 2019
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Hi there,

Sharing some experience from BCG Singapore. A normal case typically means getting off at 11pm plus, a bad case 1-2am, and a brutal one (usually DD) around 3-4am. Other countries in Southeast Asia on average could be less demanding compared to Singapore, with a normal case ending likely around 9-10pm.

I seldom need to work over the weekends when I was a consultant. When I became a project leaders, I would start from Sunday late afternoon to prepare the work plan for my team for the coming week and work from there.

Overall, consulting job is very demanding. I think what we can do is to make better integration of work and life. Practice better time management, e.g. make use of the fragmented time slots to handle trivial stuff in work or life. You can take a team call on your way to airport before officially kickstarting your holiday. Or buy groceries online on the way to client site and ask for delivery upon your return.

For working mothers esp. new mothers, it would naturally be tough. However, BCG does offer flexible work arrangements for mothers to choose from, e.g. 70% time. Some of my ex-colleagues also choose to switch role temporarily to a supporting function when they first have their babies, but then switch back to the consulting path again when the work at home is not as demanding.

Clara
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updated her answer on Oct 02, 2019
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Hello!

I have experience in several offices across Europe, particularly in McKinsey and Company.

Nowadays, consulting companies are being more and more aware about the challenges it emcompasses for women, and they are implementing policies to facilitate conciliation. For instance, in McKinsey Iberia -Spain and Portugal- you can work part time after maternity leave -that is regulated by country laws-.

However, working from 9am to 9 pm is considered alraedy a "very good lifestyle", which can be tricky for mothers. However, I have seen many cases in which the moms leave earlier (18h), spend some time with their kids and put them to bed, and then continue remotly from home.

Hope it helps!

(edited)

Marco-Alexander
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replied on Oct 02, 2019
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Hi Anonym,

there are always intensive phases and less intensive phases.

Usually you have Thursday and Friday evening for yourself. Saturday and Sunday are usually also free. Thus in the second half of the week the workload is comparable to a normal job. The first half of the week (Monday to Wednesday) is difficult, but you're also not home anyway.

Best regards
Marco-Alexander

Udayan
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replied on Oct 02, 2019
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Giulia is much better equipped to answer this as she is a woman but here are some examples I have seen

1. Location flexibility - especially for those with a family or certain commitments there is a lot of effort to staff them locally vs in a different city

2. Weekend work - while this can be unavoidable sometimes, there is a lot of effort in place to ensure it doesn't happen regularly/only happens when absolutely necessary

3. Some flexibility for things such as medical appointments, personal commitments (although this is often not very common)

4. Flying Tue-Thu as opposed to Mon-Thu as there is more awareness around actual need to fly to the client vs just continuing as is

5. Helping you with personal chores - e.g., McK has a concierge service in some offices where they pay for you to hire people to do chores like take your car to the garage etc. when you are not in town.

It is helpful to go to events targeted at recruiting more women into the firms to get a better understanding of other initiatives at play. There is a lot that

Consulting is a very demanding career, make no mistake about it. All of these will not take away from the fact that you have 12 - 15 hour days and are almost always engaged mentally with the problem/tasks at hand. It is good to get an answer to these conditions beforehand

Vlad
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replied on Oct 02, 2019
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Hi,

The first rule - the longer you stay with a particular client the better will be the lifestyle - you know the client and the client knows what to expect from you. Jumping from client to client is not the best idea

The second rule - the sexier the project sounds the worse work-life balance you have. Usually, the scope of these projects is less defined and you are always trying to impress

All in all - staying with a boring, predictable client can make your work-life balance better

Best!