The career paths leading to a position of senior management consultant are more varied. This article intends to illustrate this point.
Three Paths to Becoming a Senior Management Consultant
Obviously, the shortest path to becoming a senior consultant is definitely to start with … being a junior consultant. But it is not the easiest path seen selectivity at consulting firms. Moreover, it turns out that in the current business context, there are several other options to joining a consulting firm as a senior consultant.
The essential point is the mutation affecting recruitment in the consulting sector, as all countries are opening their panel of recruitment. I have personally benefited from this trend, not having a “classic” profile. This openness is not always made in light-heartedness in this elitist sector, but it is here and is not ready to stop. Two factors explain this opening of consulting to broader profiles.
First, it is in some ways a result of the development of the consulting sector. Since the Second World War, the consulting sector has seen great growth globally. Today, almost all sectors and functions rely on consulting. To support this growth, it is necessary to multiply the sources of recruitment, and this represents a real opportunity for future candidates seeking consulting positions. The past “elitist approach” in consulting recruitment was legitimate in the 1980s when consulting dealt with less volume of activity.
Secondly, career paths are less linear today than ever. I did a small survey among colleagues who are also consultants. As surprising as it may seem, those who had the vocation for consulting at their first jobs were in the minority. As all fortune 500 and equivalent companies are using intensive consulting services, from strategy to IT, the opportunities of contact with the consulting sector proliferated among managers, sparking interest that consulting firms rushed to treat.
Today, if you are targeting a particular consulting firm, you typically have three career paths that open the doors of an offer as a senior consultant.
The MBA, A Key To Become Management Consultant?
This is somewhat the Joker that consultant candidates can use to get invited to consulting firm interviews. This is not the solution I recommend in the first place, because it is somewhat the “reset button” on a career. An MBA requires a tremendous effort:
- Prior to going through the training itself, it is necessary to select the program carefully.
- Financially, the effort is substantial as an MBA requires a budget between 25 k and 200 k USD , taking into account academic fees and life expenses.
- Finally ending up on the benches as a student takes personal effort for a professional accustomed to working as a manager.
Consulting As A Second Step In One’s Career
I say “second” and not third or fourth since many consulting firms limit the age of candidates. If we consider the larger firms, it is unusual to enter after more than 5 year’s experience elsewhere. There are exceptions, of course; some boutiques are interested in recruiting senior managers, but the bulk of the market puts a limit on age. If you find yourself in this case, the roadmap is simple on paper: get ready for the preparation to be competitive. Before that, you will say to me that you have to get invited for an interview… well, it will depend on your experience. If your current employer is a consulting company then you hit the nail on the head. Otherwise, it will primarily depend on your network. If it turns out you’re in a dead-end, you have the option of making an MBA.
Consulting After Consulting
Some candidates who target strategy or management consulting firms are currently working in specialized consulting firms. Generally, they got these positions as specialized consultants early in their career, for example in the IT or audit, or the environment sector. After a few years, they want to keep on working in consulting, but with even more ambitious prospects, which directs them to firms that were perhaps difficult to grasp as juniors. However, these firms are now reachable thanks to their consulting experience. There are a slew of consulting firm boutiques that can be seen as springboards on mid-term to the strategy and management consulting firms, even the MBB.
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