Top strategy consulting firms like McKinsey, BCG, or Bain constantly rank highly in the best places to work surveys by Glassdoor, Forbes, and the like. Why is it that such firms continuously come out at the top even though they are known for their long hours, stressful work-life balance, and extensive travel?
There are three main aspects that influence the positioning of these firms in such rankings positively and make them one of the best places to work:
Smart and fun colleagues
First, the good reviews relate to who you work with. The colleagues you work with on a day to day basis in such firms are exceptionally smart and you can learn a lot from them. Also, the people that sit in the team room with you all day – to a degree selected because of their interesting personalities and genuine niceness – will make for a great and fun working atmosphere. Additionally, working long hours towards big goals increases the bond with your teammates. These firms promote the leadership qualities of their consultants right from the get-go.
Exciting, high-impact engagements
Second, they relate to what you work on. You will usually work on the key CEO agenda items. This means that you will deal with many different problems simultaneously or in very quick succession and get a high degree of responsibility right from the start. It is exciting and the learning curve is great. Since you work on the top priorities of the business you consult, the end results of your engagements can really move the needle for the client business.
Third, they relate to who you work for. As a consultant of the MBB your projects are usually commissioned by the top corporations/ institutions in their field. This implies that the solutions you develop as a team can have a large impact and make a big difference with the client business and sometimes the world. Such a high magnitude of the impact is hard to find in a comparable industry role with the same relatively low tenure.
Overall, these three things create a stimulating and exciting environment to thrive. They are also the reason why consultants are willing to live with the drawbacks (long hours, pressure, up-or-out, travel,…).
Contrarily, the fact that the entry-level salary is already above the median income or that the prestige of the firm offers good exit opportunities are nice-to-haves, however, they do not necessarily lead to good employer reviews.
Read more about our first-hand experience reports and interviews of consultants working for the top-three firms and about what separates McKinsey, BCG, and Bain from the rest.
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Florian spent 5 years with McKinsey as a senior consultant. He is an experienced consulting interviewer and problem-solving coach, having interviewed 100s of candidates in real and mock interviews. He started StrategyCase.com with the goal to make McKinsey more accessible for top-talent, using tailored and up-to-date know-how about its recruiting.