What is Management Consulting (also called Strategy Consulting)?
Management Consulting (or Strategy Consulting) is the profession of providing advice to corporations and governments about how to improve their performance. Management consulting companies are hired to provide best practices that serve as a source of competitive advantage. Some management consulting companies are more general in nature and offer expertise across many industries and functional areas (e.g. The Boston Consulting Group) while other “boutique firms” focus on specific industries, like Healthcare (e.g. MGMA Health Care Consulting Group), or specific functions like Risk Management and Human Resources (e.g. Towers Watson).
General management consulting companies will have some projects that are multi-industry and multi-functional in addition to projects focused on specific industry vertical and functional areas. So, management consulting companies have both functional and industry practices to provide deep expertise.
Functional practices could include: Business Analytics, Customer Insight, Corporate Development, Corporate Finance, Information Technology, Innovation, Marketing & Sales, Operations, People & Organization (or Human Resources), Performance Improvement, Postmerger Integration, Risk Management, Sustainability & Resource Productivity, Strategy, Transformation and Turnaround. Unsurprisingly, many of these functional practice areas align with course topics, majors and academic divisions at business school.
Industry verticals could include Aerospace, Agriculture (could include sustainability), Airlines, Apparel, Automotive, Biotechnology (or Biopharmaceuticals), Chemicals, Computers (or Hardware & Software), Consumer Goods (or Consumer Products), Defense (perhaps part of Public Sector), Education, Energy & Environment, Financial Services (or Financial Institutions), Government (perhaps part of Public Sector), Health Care (or more specifically Health Care Payers & Providers), High Technology, Insurance, Legal, Manufacturing, Media & Entertainment, Medical Devices & Technology, Metals & Mining, Nonprofit, Pharmaceuticals, Private Equity, Process Industries, Public Sector, Publishing, Real Estate, Retail/Wholesale, Social Impact, Software, Technology, Telecommunications and Transportation, Travel and Tourism.
What are common post-MBA Management Consulting positions?
Whether called Associates or Consultants, most of these firms hire MBA graduates for generalist positions in which newly hired consultants moves fluidly between different functional and industry practices. Associates/Consultants will supervise pre-MBA consultants (whether called Analysts or some other title) as well as building economic and financial models, formulating and analyzing problems, research and assess businesses, interview clients, facilitate meetings, developing suitable analytical frameworks, presenting findings and more.
After a few years (the time varies at different firms), consultants specialize in one or more practice areas.
The summer internship is very important for Management Consulting as it is for other fields, such as Investment Management and Investment Banking. Most management consulting companies hire for Summer Associate / Summer Consultant positions and make full-time offers to select Summer Associate / Summer Consultant that usually include second year tuition.
Many major companies, such as Fidelity Investments, have internal consulting groups that perform the same types of consulting projects but strictly to improve the performance of that particular company. This career path might be advantageous to MBA graduates who want the diversified intellectual challenges of the strategy consulting field, but do not wish to have a career with extensive travel.
How should applicants with management consulting post-MBA goals target business schools?
If you have management consulting objectives, choosing a program at which management consulting firms recruit for Associate/Consultant positions should be one of your criteria in selecting an MBA school. Although this is not often published, you can glean this information by searching for the percentage of graduates (and summer interns) entering management consulting on MBA career employment reports. Schools will publish the strategy consulting companies that hire students and often times schools will report those firms that recruit on campus.