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Age?

 
#1 Age?
06/02/2006 22:44

Frank

I was surprised to read in some messages posted here that some people cite age as a barrier to entry into the consulting market. One person made the comment that an MBA grad who was 35 would be too old for the large strategy firms. I'm assuming he/she meant McKinsey/Bain/BCG/BoozAllen etc, and I'm very very surprised by this remark and other comments made on this forum. What are people's opinions? More importantly what has been your experience? Surely age/experience in industry plus an MBA is the perfect way to get into consulting and climb to senior positions (i.e., partnership)?

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#2 Re: Age?
07/02/2006 11:53

T

I was 36 when I joined PwC, only ever worked for (my line manager and on assignments) partners who were younger than me, and thrived for six rewarding years. I don't remember age being an issue as such, compared to my skills and experience but knowing that I didnt want to follow the partnership route, I made sure to get out (and start accumulating shares again) when I had learned what I wanted from consultancy.

There again, here I am ten years later at a Times100 co and current CEO (and CFO & COO) are all younger than me by a good ten years.

Not sure anywhere rewards length of service over delivery and achievement any more.

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#3 Re: Age?
07/02/2006 18:15

Frank

Good to hear, and reinforces how I hope rewards are being dealt out...just outside of my current company that is.

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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#4 Re: Age?
07/02/2006 19:44

simon

If all the partners are 36-42 then this does confirm the age limit. I can see how this is enforced through recruitment. However what happens to the existing employees when they reach 42?

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#5 Re: Age?
08/02/2006 14:29

anon

My experience is that age and experience matter more than the 'ism's'. Ageism is very often simply a waste of time, although I think that the post Frank referred to simply had some over-zealousness amongst some quite complex considerations.

P.S. Also the ‘levels’ referred to, going back to the thread six posts below this, are most normally the consulting entry channels for applicants. Candidates should search specific consultancy websites that they might be interested in, or ask, if they want to understand how specific consultancy organisations are structured. If they want to apply, then they can also look at going through the normal channels.

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#6 Re: Age?
09/02/2006 13:54

Martin Farncombe

When I was recruiting senior managers for a household-name consultancy, I was told by the partner to reject a good candidate because he was too old "if he hasn't made partner by the age of 44 we don't want him". That was by no means the only example in my recruiting career of age being used for filtering or final decision, so this does go on. And there are (some) good reasons for it - consulting for the big firms does require a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and that does tend to go as one gets older.

But let's put this in perspective. Lack of personal skills, lack of breadth, or minimal consulting experience will all kill your application faster than having a few grey hairs: my all-time favourite was the candidate who said "I've just got married: I won't have to travel, will I?"

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#7 Re: Age?
09/02/2006 14:48

old man

Lack of energy and enthusiasm may be a good reason to reject someone. Assuming everyone over a certain age lacks energy and enthusiasm is just prejudice.

No wonder leading consultancies have such difficulty recruiting good people. Perhaps a bit more focus on personal skills and track record would widen the pool?

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#8 Re: Age?
09/02/2006 17:59

Gary

There is almost no chance of being recruited to a major consulatancy after 35 unless you have significant consulting experience or equivalent. At that age they will not appoint you as a consultant, so unless you can make senior consultant or near partner, forget it. However, the smaller niche consultants are less blinkered.

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#9 Re: Age?
10/02/2006 18:47

Philippe SIMON

I was 33 when I joined Bain & Co, 18 years ago.

I was an engineer plus MBA from a prestigious US B-School (U. of Chicago) and certain I had a lot to contribute to the firm and its clients. Yet I had to "pay my dues" for more than one year: taking orders from managers 5 years my junior void of any industrial field knowledge, unable (or unauthorized) to leverage my sector and practice knowledge, and required in priority to "learn the culture and comply with it". Indeed "industry hires" were scarce in the Paris office (as well as in the Boston HQ where I served later)and their survival rate to partner status was dismal. However this 3 1/2 yrs experience gave me a second trade and competency which I developed later on (CSC Index, Braxton Associates)and a track record which was clearly instrumental in helping me gain my present position in a Hi-Tech firm after a series of industry-to-consulting roundtrips.I would say it was tough training and the strategy boutiques culture was (still is?) biased against older recruits with industry experience, but for those who survived it was worth the pain.

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