Become a Strategy Consultant – How To Work In Strategy Consulting

The first question I ask candidates who want to become a strategy consultant is, “Why strategy rather than other niches in consulting?” It is essential for a candidate of your level to have a career plan that does not rely on buzz and prestige.

Even if you are not motivated by prestige, it will be necessary at some point – for example, during interviews – to structure your motivation in other complementary dimensions. We shall, indeed, in the sections dedicated to your competitiveness discuss why it is crucial to never appear “monochromatic” in your approach and speech.

The Three Main Motivation of the Candidates to Become a Strategy Consultant

  1. The prestige of strategy consulting
  2. High wages
  3. Career after consulting

The first motivation to become consultant is related to the prestige of the job. This prestige is first among customers of the strategy firms. Then it’s within the consulting sector that the “strategy niche” appears as the most prestigious sector in the eyes of the consultants. This is due to historical reasons because consulting was first created in the field of strategy. Another reason is due to the spreading of the strategy consulting approaches to all other niches of consulting. I speak about both of methodology and standards. For example, let’s take the McKinsey Problem Solving Test. It is sufficient that this iconic firm decides to generalize the pre-selection tests so that other firms follow the trend and create their own pre-selection exercises. This is also why I have decided to dedicate a special section and to write a specific book on the PST topic: it now impacts all candidates to consulting.

Salaries are higher in strategy consulting, whether for junior positions or especially concerning the remuneration of partners, the highest tenures in consulting firms. What underlie these high salaries are higher fees for customers, but also human resources management strategies that go all out on the compensation component. The salary and financial benefits come against high-swinging rhythms and standards requirement levels totally outside the norm. Let’s clarify – only careers in investment banking and entrepreneurship (when the entrepreneur is successful)  give rise to more lucrative careers than strategy consulting.

 

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Finally, career perspectives after consulting are a strong argument, if not the most important to me in hindsight. The strength and responsiveness of business networks’ alumni in strategy consulting firms are good practices in the professional world. These powerful networks are able to open many doors for consultants leaving their firms. There are also excellent sources of prospects for entrepreneurs…

But is This a Good Career Strategy?

Strategy firms are (of course, I will not surprise you in recalling it) the most selective in consulting sector. So to return to my initial question about the motivation to become a consultant, let’s takes into account the requirements that are specific to strategy consulting.

These requirements exist at two levels:

  1. The high level of selection for candidates
  2. The high level of demand for consultants in office

Also, I also advise you to make realistic choices. For example, I refuse to train candidates aiming only for McKinsey or Boston Consuting Group. Why? Because I consider that this career choice is neither mature nor realistic, given that nobody can professionally guarantyeeany offer from such selective firms. Of course, with the preparation that I have set up, candidates have all levers to fly over “the mass of the other candidates.” But it is simply not strategic to limit the effort targeting only such firms for one’s career. Regarding the high level of requirement, here again, it is a question of anticipation that is required, in order to ensure projecting yourself into the position of consultant in strategy and thus avoid any “cold shower.”