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Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?

#1 Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
03/03/2006 20:22



I would appreciate your feed-back on this one:

What's your experience with Cambridge MBA graduates and how this degree is perceived in strategy consultancies? I'm planning to apply to this program and wondering if it is worth the investment (alternative would be a low-cost Canadian programme).

Thank you.

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#2 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
04/03/2006 11:44


It is critical to choose the best brand possible for your MBA. Differences between course fees are insignificant once you look at total cost including living expenses and lost income.

You can see the strengths of the different brands in the FT rankings. Cambridge is strong and some of the Canadian MBAs are also strong.

Some brands are stronger in their own country. For example the employer perception of Richard Ivey is much higher in Canada than in the US. However this is less of a concern if you intend to have an international career.

My personal view is that studying in another country will provide a much broader experience (assuming you still pick a strong brand). There are strong MBA brands in many countries in Europe and most are in English.

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#3 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
04/03/2006 12:22


This is a cost/benefit comparison of leading business schools versus the rest.

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#4 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
05/03/2006 18:11


Thank you, Simon, I appreciate your feed-back. I totally agree that trying to get in the best programme should be the priority, regardless of the short-term financial impact.

I made my own ranking over the last few weeks by speaking with few executives, and, surprisingly enough, they hardly know a thing about Ivey or Wharton. As potential employers, they know Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, U of Toronto, etc.

Shanghai University prepares quite interesting academic rankings, here is the link:

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#5 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
05/03/2006 18:22


Thank you, Simon, very useful. His theory about "GMAT donor vs GMAT charity case" hopefully plays in my favor. :)

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#6 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
06/03/2006 21:27


Hi! I just thought I'd pitch in - I'm an overseas student currently at Cambridge (well, the Judge Business School). We enjoy it here, it's a bit smaller which allows for a great atmosphere and some really good focused teaching. The wide range of nationalities and experiences is also a plus, and I would definitely recommend it. To top it all off, the Judge was ranked the top business school in the UK recently.

Despite that, though, it remains less known within the UK than the London Business School, or even the Said (at Oxford) - there is a lot of rebranding now being done, and I would say that outside England, 'Cambridge' has great cachet even if the business school itself it newer. While the smaller intake means high calibre and some more individual attention, it also means slightly reduced opportunities for networking (though on the plus side you get to meet many people from Cambridge itself).

Overall, I would definitely recommend it to others, but some of those reservations are quite important ones. For me, the final decision maker was coming to live in Cambridge itself, it is a really beautiful place, and absolutely teeming with students and student-based activities. It is a very good school, with a great location and great teaching, and I don't think that there is a better one in the UK. If, however, you are more concerned about networking and 'big name' brand power (but want to stay in Europe), I would keep Cambridge as a fall-back, and take good look at Insead.

Hope this helps!

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#7 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
06/03/2006 22:31


1)Where do you want to work after your MBA? This is crucial. If you want to be in Europe, then if at all possible go to LBS or INSEAD, or a top US school. If you want to be in N America, then go to a top US school.

2)get into the highest ranked school you can. All the top schools send people to strategy consulting, and it is mostly a function of you and your ability, but only if you are in a school that the top houses recruit at. People get in from lesser schools all the time, but it is less common so why put yourself at that sort of risk?

3)Take the recruitment numbers from some schools with a pinch of salt. While they are true, bear in mind that many of those recruited will be returning to their old employer having been sponsored for the year.

4)Wrt Cambrigdge, it is a good school, but don't confuse the undergrad with the MBA. The undergrad is as good as it gets anywhere in The World, but the MBA is not yet so prestigious. The MBA in The UK does not carry the same value that it does in The US and elsewhere, and there is still a perceived difference between Oxbridge undergrad and MBA. It will shrink in time but it is still there now. Basically, there are lots of people on Oxbridge MBAs that would not ever get into Oxbridge as undergrads.

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#8 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
06/03/2006 22:44


Thank you very much for your valuable feed-back! I'm glad you are enjoying your experience. Your impression is significantly more useful than what I've heard from a JBS Alumni at MBA Fair (very proud of his degree but not really helpful).

Like you've mentioned, there is more than just yearly rating; teaching quality, location, networking, all must be considered. Given that making quality applications is quite time-consuming, I've decided to limit myself to Cambridge and one "safety school".

Thanks again and good luck for your final consulting project!

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#9 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy career?
06/03/2006 23:00


These are very good questions, thank you. My wife's career is definitely linked to Canada, so I have to come back the sooner the better. ;) Last year, I've already declined a good offer to work in Europe. At the same time, branding is also important, and Cambridge brand is what it is.

Compared to US MBAs, Cambridge MBA comes at a discount, because it's done in 1 year instead of 2. And I don't have the "classic" top-tier US MBA profile (MIT undergrad in maths, 3 years' analyst experience, reference from McK NY principal).

So do you think the Oxbridge MBA entry requirements will tighten over the next years? If so, this is the time to get in.

Thanks for the feed-back, I appreciate it.

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#10 Two suggestions...
07/03/2006 08:22

Tony Restell (

I would suggest you:

i) ask the business school to let you have data on which consultancies their graduating students have succeeded in joining in the last 2-3 years (I would expect 1/4 to 1/3 of grads to be joining desirable consulting employers if the school is highly regarded by consultancies)

ii) ask the business school to confirm which consulting firms are recruiting from campus in the current academic year (if most firms are then the place is clearly well regarded; if hardly any are then that's a big cause for concern)

Results speak volumes in my experience. The top strat firms have a pretty strong view of the universities and business schools they are interested in and their past behaviour gives a good indication of what they are likely to do over the next couple of years.

Good luck, Tony

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#11 Re: Two suggestions...
07/03/2006 13:49


Thank you for your suggestions, Tony, I appreciate it. According to the brochure, approx. 1/3 of graduates went to consultancy, but I will investigate this further. In regards to the campus recruiting, I am interested in joining Mercer MC or McK, and both recruit at Cambridge.

Do you think it's a good idea to try to contact these firms, once admitted, in order to secure a position after graduation or even discuss a partial sponsorship? Is it an acceptable practice?

Best regards.

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#12 Re: Two suggestions...
07/03/2006 14:06

Tony Restell (

I haven't heard of firms (other than an existing employer) making a commitment to a student at the beginning of their studies, so I'm not sure you would have much success with such an approach. Firms will want to see how you interview compared with all the other potential hires from your year - and then make a decision accordingly, so I'd be surprised if they would make someone an offer in isolation of the usual recruitment process.

There'd certainly be no harm approaching these firms to do your MBA consulting project as some kind of internship with them (such a project is part of the course at Cambridge). If you can get your foot in the door before the recruitment rounds start then that would certainly help come interview time.

Hope that helps & good luck. Tony

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#13 Re: Two suggestions...
07/03/2006 20:23


Thank you, Tony. I've heard of few stories about people getting offers and even partial sponsorships shortly after admission to a top programme (from banks and major pharmas, but not from strat houses though). I'll follow your advice in the internship project selection.

Best regards.

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#14 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy ca
09/03/2006 23:57


As the previous contributor mentioned, most of the students doing an Oxbridge MBA would never have got into to Oxbridge as undergraduates; but also one other thing to consider seriously similarly I would suggest is the professors and faculty members of the Oxbridge business schools. Most of them have had no formal education themselves in management nor do most of them have any formal academic qualifications in management such as an MBA! They similarly would not get a job in the faculty of any really good business school. If you look at the staff of a good business faculty all the staff will have have formal academic qualifications in management, mostly a MBA or DBA (and usually in the UK would be eligible for registration as a Chartered Manager.)

This is particularly true of the good USA business faculties. They have properly qualified faculty members. I would suggest that you do a MBA where those who will be teaching you are themselves actually qualifed to teach you on an MBA course. [After all it would not be much use having a surgeon to operate on you in a hospital who had a degree in Politics and Economics from Oxbridge instead of any degree in medicine?]

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#15 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy ca
10/03/2006 14:27


Thank you for your interesting insight. I guess the interest of an MBA is to access a diversity, otherwise I would continue my MSc and research more in-depth a particular management field. But I'll take a closer look at faculty members at JBS.

Speaking brands, Canadian job market is specific in some regards, and coming back with a Fuqua or Tuck degree wouldn't mean much here. I'd say two US brands are truly cross-border: HBS & MIT, but I have limited chances getting there. There is also a low number of international students in US universities, which affects both my admission chances and future possibilites for an international network. Oxbridge brand is obviously extremely strong in Canada.

Thank you for your comments.

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#16 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy ca
10/03/2006 18:09


Another possibility to consider would be to go somewhere like Rotterdam School of Management and then participate in an exchange program to Canada. This would give you international experience, Canadian contacts and access to the Canadian careers service.

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#17 Re: Cambridge MBA - a good match for consultancy ca
14/03/2006 20:07


Thank you, Simon, I'll take a look at the school you've mentioned. I've just applied to Cambridge MBA as a first choice school, let's see what happens.

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#18 Interview!
24/03/2006 16:18


Flying to Cambridge in April for a final interview, so, no more hesitation! Just learned it today. Many thanks to all of you for the suggestions on this topic.

camgirl: do you have an idea about the refusal rate after the interviews? Maybe we'll have a chance to meet if you are going to the April 24th event...

Best regards.

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