Management Consulting: The Naked Truth
Management consulting is a rewarding career, both at the professional and the personal levels, with its high salaries and attractive perks, accelerated career growth, exposure to the corporate world's most interesting challenges, access to the most senior industry leaders, and lavish lifestyle.
Many books and articles highlight these various aspects, yet only a few offer a truly detailed perspective into the real journey to a successful consulting career and the daily life of a consultant. In what follows, we will shed the light on some of the key aspects that are not necessarily known about consulting.
1. Consultants don't just travel, stay in five star hotels, and meet with senior executives. Consultants work at least 60 hours a week, some of them work more than 80. They re-work slides in the middle of the night, and keep on iterating documents till the last second before presenting them. Consultants often work on weekends, on the plane, in the airport and sometimes in the taxi. This requires stamina, and luckily stamina can be quickly developed. More importantly it requires dedication, resilience, and having an ultimate target that is worth the effort, and many sacrifices.
2. Benefits from consulting are not only financial. On average, a consultant spends 3-5 years before switching to another job so in the grand scheme of things it's not worth aiming for a consulting job just for the financial benefits it offers. After all, if you work the same number of hours in any other job you will be able to make a comparable amount of money given the actual hourly rate. Yet, consulting offers much more valuable benefits that other jobs do not necessarily offer. These benefits include the ability to approach problem solving in a very structured manner. Moreover, consultants develop a strong attention to detail, and the ability to approach unfamiliar problems outside their comfort zone. These capabilities are unique to very few individuals in the corporate world, and are the foundation of any progression to senior executive roles as well acceptance in top-notch academic programs e.g. MBA.
3. Successful consultants who exited to the industry have managed to develop some of the most rewarding careers, and many of them became CEOs of the largest global companies. Others either became leading executives in top companies, or started up entrepreneurial ventures, or continued climbing the ladder in their respective consulting companies. In the end, when asked about the key to their success they all reverted back to their early days, and to the competencies, and maturity they have developed at the beginning of their career.
As such, starting a career in consulting or moving from industry to consulting can be a true turning point in one's life, and preparing seriously and, efficiently is key to secure the job and standout.
Management Consulting: Illustrative and Standard Journey
PrepToAchieve has created an illustrative journey for management consulting. The journey is inspired by what top management consulting companies offer to talented undergraduates and experienced hires in the Middle East and worldwide. While there is a level of standardization in the nomenclature used, titles, grades, tenure at grade, and other elements vary by company and by territory. Nevertheless, PrepToAchieve designed what we believe strongly aligns companies and provide you with a realistic view of what to expect.
Generally speaking, management consulting companies have between four and eight grades. Grades consist of groups of levels with similar proficiency in core competencies and expected advancement timing. This schematic shows you an illustration of grades in management consulting companies. Titles at every grade may vary. PrepToAchieve has also provided you with a brief description for the responsibilities expected at every grade. Once you work with us, we would provide further details.
Tenure at grade
A normal progression in management consulting takes around 20 years. Early promotions will cut it to 12 – 15 years. The schematic shows you as well an approximation of numbers of years required at every grade. Progression would definitely vary by company. It would also take into consideration many factors such as: individual and company performance, market situation, individual qualifications (MBA, expert track, traditional track), and others.
Every person looks at fast-tracking his or her career. In management consulting, a similar opportunity is oftentimes given. However, related policies vary from a company to another. In all cases, traditional promotions from a grade to a higher grade may also slightly vary. With PrepToAchieve service offerings, you will be able to prepare and succeed your interviews, your cases, and acquire the competencies you need to build and solidify from people who have been (or still are) successfully there.
Management consulting companies look at the key following competencies when hiring talent or promoting them from within: client service excellent, industry competencies, consulting competencies, leadership and people development, management effectiveness, marketing and sales, quality and risk management, C-suite presence, eminence building, global mindset.
Entry points for recruitment purposes
PrepToAchieve is interested to work with every individual who is looking to be part of the management consulting network either in the Middle East or worldwide. Nevertheless, management consulting companies target specific profiles and look to hire those at specific entry points throughout the illustrative management consulting journey.
Management consulting companies seek exceptional students with a breadth and of academic backgrounds from colleges and universities around the world. Whether they are finishing their undergraduate degree or studying at the postgraduate level, a career in management consulting is one of the best way to put talent to work. Most undergraduates who have taken this path say that they participate in meaningful work and they strengthened their competencies.
MBA Applicants and Graduates
Management consulting is a primary destination for people with an MBA. An MBA prepares you as a problem solver for clients.
Many management consulting companies recognize the value of people without a classical business background. Companies would support in training but they would also enable an expert track with industry focus.
Do not hesitate to contact us for further information and to learn more should you be at any point in your management consulting journey!