Why a Generalist Consulting Firm Could Be a Very Bad Choice for Your Future Career


How could a generalist consulting firm be a very bad choice for your future career? The question may surprise you as the prestige of generalist consulting firms is great. But it turns out that, for some candidates, making this choice proves to be a huge mistake. I reviewed a few situations where it was not a good idea to aim for a generalist consultancy.


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The Shortness of Breadth of a Candidate


This is the case which concerns more candidates in consulting. When I coach candidates, I meet many people interested by the consulting sector, but who are not willing to provide the level of commitment required to fully succeed. The recruitment process is so demanding that it constitutes a first serious test of the motivation of the candidates.

If it is only to buy the Case in Point or the Integrale Method book, it is not worthwhile to embark on such recruitment. Sorry to repeat myself. But this is only the beginning of the path: the investment to be a consultant and to start your job successfully requires a minimum amount of time. If it is to stay six months as a McKinsey consultant — I do not speak of the specific case of internships here. Hey well, I don’t recommend starting your career as a strategy or management consultant! The effort to start as a consultant is important, absolutely not out of reach, but not neglectable. Three-fourths of those recruited in the top-tier (McKinsey, BCG, Bain) of consultants adapt to their new work environment. This also means that a small quarter does not succeed at this step. I will soon make a course dedicated to “How to start your job as a consultant the right way.” My ambition is to allow all future candidates who will follow this training to pass the bar for the first months in consulting. In synthesis, keep in mind that it is necessary to have the breadth to embark on the generalist consulting.


The Candidate Who Wants to Quickly Build Expertise


Rapidly building expertise is not suitable for short-term experience in strategy and management consulting. In a large firm like BCG, you will be considered a “house expert” just after completing two assignments in the same sector. But in strategy consulting, assignments typically last no more than three months. Do you sincerely believe that an outside recruiter to consulting will consider you as a specialist or expert after six months of experience? Obviously not. But within consulting firms, this approach makes sense since with these two assignments you are indeed more of an expert than the majority of your colleagues who have less experience in the field.


Candidates Who Wish to Preserve Assets for a Technical Profession


I give you an extreme example to illustrate this point. Consider a PhD in Sciences who is interested in a career in research and development. This young researcher would also have experience in the company, expedited to complete his scientific and technical background. After reading many of my articles on management-consulting-formula.com, let’s say that he decided to become a consultant. He then had to “mourn” his technical background. He will certainly have access to management positions in R & D, but he will likely be distanced from more technical positions because of his experience of several years in strategy consulting and management. These years have disconnected him from the career path of researchers. I’m not saying it could not reconnect quickly, but the labor market does not predominantly see him in this way.


Other Resources On Management Consulting


Links of interest - Management Consulting Firms Overview in The US
Videos on this topic - Management Consulting Firms Association
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