What is it about management consulting that is so exciting?
Management consulting one of the most popular jobs both straight out of top universities and after some previous career experience. There are a number of reasons why it has such a good reputation.
Exposure and variety:
As a junior at a management consulting business, you get exposure to a wide variety of industries (e.g., financial services, oil and gas, retail) and functions (corporate strategy, cost control, sales force optimisation). You move between different projects, which could be anywhere from 1 month to 6 months, which means that you learn from a wide range of corporate situations. Having this variety at an early stage in your career sets you up well for a general management position. Which leads to…
Future job prospects
Former management consultants are some of the most employable people around. The combination of intelligence, variety of experience, a strong network of talented people, and good communication skills means that firms who want smart, motivated individuals tend to look first to management consulting firms to grow their talent. In fact, many leadership positions specifically advertise (3+ years of experience at McKinsey, Bain or BCG strongly preferred).
Personal development and extra perks
Personal development is taken seriously. Consultants have frequent, one-on-one professional development sessions with supervisors and also are matched with a mentor in the firm who oversees your progress and learning. On top of that, most consulting firms - and particularly the top tier - offer a set of ‘flexibility options’. Consultants tend to travel extensively with their projects, and many people enjoy the perks of travel and seeing new countries and cities. Beyond project related travel, there is also the option to do transfers to other offices. For example, after 18 months at Bain you can apply to transfer to another of the global offices for 6 months. The firm will pay your travel costs and accommodation in the new city - it’s a pretty good deal! Most top firms will also pay for MBA fees, on the condition that the consultant returns to the firm to work for the same period of time they were away at university. Many people take this option up, particularly in the USA.
People and working environment
Consulting firms are very selective about who they employ. There are high standards not only for education, but also for business acumen, leadership experience and the pursuit of interests. This means that you join a consulting firm with an amazing group of people who are smart, curious and interesting. Many people rate the friends and contacts they made as the biggest asset of their consulting experience. This also feeds into the working environment - you are working with high calibre people which means that the learning curve is steep and you have support around you to help you grow.