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bright or not bright future after MC?

#1 bright or not bright future after MC?
14/11/2006 22:07


I'm working in the industry as a graduate but I am also thinking about moving into MC. At the beginning I was very excited about MC and bright future after strat consulting (I'm aiming at McK and 3B). But then started to analyse it a bit further and actually got confused (hence less excited).

Is the future after MC really so bright?

Now 2 comments (the latter one more relevant):

- Ok, one might say that CEOs of this world come from MC. Fine, but these are only exceptions. Whole bunch of consultants leaving MC will not become CEOs.

- If consultant moves into the industry usually the role for him/her is 'Strategy Manager' or 'Business Development Manager' or sth like this. I work for leading worldwide FMCG company and have spoken also to my friends from other blue-chip firms. The truth is that vast majority of guys taking top positions come from internal functions of Marketing and Finance (when it comes to consumer goods companies) or Production and Finance (for manufacturing firms) or IT, Marketing and Finance (for telco and IT multinationals). Only these departments really make it. In my firm I have hard only about 2 ex-consultans who got MD positions. The rest of MDs, Finance/Marketing Directors come from the company or similar positions within the industry (and not MC). Similarly is with my friends' firms.

So actually I started to think that MC is great place only if you stay there and progress within the MC. But in this way I'll never be MD or Head of Function with really big international firm (say Nestle, Shell, Unilever, Coca-Cola, etc). If so I'm somehow stuck and limited to MC only.

Pls correct me if I’m wrong.

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#2 RE: bright or not bright future after MC?
15/11/2006 00:33

I.d.A to doubt (#1)

You are broadly right. There are two factors in this:

MC is a career choice that is not a perfect substitute for management experience. So with just management experience, you can go into consulting, but not vice versa.

Consultants often choose (and stay on) that path because they enjoy the independence, having sales and business development responsibility, the whole eat-what-you-kill thing. They prefer working with a smaller group of professionals rather than a larger group of mixed ability as you usually get in industry. They like the fact that the politics is (mainly) within the client, whereas to make it up the executive hierarchy you have to enjoying playing those games. Finally, consultants tend to be more intellectual, high IQ, high EQ types (or at least see themselves that way) rather than leading from the front, aggressive decision makers who tend to get to the top in large corporations.

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#3 RE: bright or not bright future after MC?
16/11/2006 21:20

arthur to doubt (#1)

Spot on, I believe, Mr Doubt.

Other grads out there should take note.

Put this together with Tony Restell's article about 'only the stars will get the big pay rises' and suddenly, for the majority, MC is an unfavourable career choice (vis a vis blue chip).

IdA's view is much more boutique than big firm, and probably describes an environment people would like to be in, rather than one that exists for most people. No offense, IdA!!

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#4 RE: bright or not bright future after MC?
17/11/2006 00:14

doubt to arthur (#3)


Though there will more discussion but I.d.A and Arthur thanks for input.

Here some further thought which partially refer to I.d.A.'s reply (but as I'm consultant-(maybe)-to-be I don't have insider's perspective so pls correct me if I'm wrong).

a) Consultants are smarter, period. When I talk to people from top-tier strat houses they are just very impressive. Quality of people in the industry is just medium (no offence to anybody - including myself ;-). That can be one of the reasons why "smart a**es" (vel ex-MCs) are not promoted. Though, before they get to the CEO, they must go through Manager-Head of Function-MD-Regional Director path. Obviously somebody else must promote them on this path and nobody likes people smarter than themselves. Hence, ex-MCs stay usually as max Head of Strategy and Business Development.

b) Also, at my company I guess only Board of Directors really values strategy. For everybody else (including end-market's top teams) strategy is buzz word (makes you look smarter ;-), but nobody really cares about it. Everything here is about marketing and finance. There is even a gossip that once you screw up something and they wanna get rid of you they will either send you to Africa/Belize/Turkmenistan/etc. or make you Strategy & Business Development Manager - nobody cares about both ;-).

c) On the other side ex-MCs indeed have less idea about marketing and finance - I mean with reference to my company's specific context. They have some general knowledge, fine. But what you need to manage the business is nitty-gritty stuff. And since ex-MCs "lost" few years of this training (compared to people who start as graduate with the company), they end up with "nobody cares" positions.

d) Now with reference to IdA's comment... As said consultants are very smart - they must realize this "industry limits". So they often stay with MC not because they really wanna stay, but because what's the alternative? Strategy Manager in Kongo? ;-). So I can imagine IdA that there is a group of people who choose to work for MC, but a whole bunch would be "forced" to stay as exit options are not so good (because IB is not also an option, unless you have an MBA and enter as Associate).

e) I don't also fully agree with the comment that there is no politics in MC. Of course MC is famous for meritocracy but logical thinking leads to simple conclusion: as in every business we have pyramid case: there is less the places on the next level than candidates. And because all of consultants are smart and after MBA at Harvard (it's not supposed to be ironic), then I guess politics kicks in.

f) The last comment... I consider myself as smart, but not the "next best thing" of this world. If I join MC I'd be probably one of many, maybe even irritated if I see how many people are smarter than me. In the industry on the other side I'm in the spotlight. Because the industry is of average quality, then if you are good (but not as good as to be considered great within MC) you shine there. I've been complemented so far by many MDs/Directors that bright future, quick promotion, bla bla bla. I guess then that I (or any person like me) have pretty goods to climb high, which would not be the case for me in MC.

Anyway, having said that MC is just sexy and attractive (from outside). And although I'm aware of all the stuff above most probably I'll still apply ;-). Just wanted to share with you what I think.

Long post ;-). Greets.

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