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Pre-MBA Experience

#1 Pre-MBA Experience
12/03/2009 18:39


Later this year I'm due to start as an analyst at ACN, predominantly working in Strategy area (I say working, quite probably keeping the bench warm).

I'm aiming to go and do my MBA in the future (within the next 5 years say), the usual route at the top-tier firms (McK, Bain etc.) seems to be 2 yrs analyst then MBA.

Is 2 years at ACN likely to be as sufficient for MBA entry (DECENT MBA, I'm talking LBS/INSEAD/Judge here)? Or, because it's a less prestigious firm, would you recommend either extra time as a consultant or in industry?

My undergrad degree is also in Business (BBA) if that helps or hinders any?

Any help appreciated. Thanks.

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#2 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
12/03/2009 23:35

HBS Grad to Dave (#1)

You can certainly get into the schools you mention with two years of experience at ACN. However, the bigger question is whether you should - those Analysts (MBB included) who go into an MBA after only two years do not generally bring the experience and personal/professional maturity necessary to benefit from an MBA.

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#3 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
13/03/2009 08:52

anon to HBS Grad (#2)

As a recruiter I'd agree with the previous post, the only thing I would warn you is that don't come out fo your MBA wit unrealistic salary expectations.

I speak to many people who have done an MBA, and I appreciate it costs a lot, but then they think they can double their last salary, which employers rarely will think is wise.

For example, if you do two years at Accenture you should be a C1, and would be on £45k or so, just don't complete your MBA and look for £60k as most employers won't pay that.

I would recommed getting at least 4-5 years experience minimum before doing MBA, as then you have the solid foundations of experience plus the academics.

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#4 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
13/03/2009 09:48

Darth Vader to Dave (#1)

strategy with Accenture? LOL very funny

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#5 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
13/03/2009 13:03

Dave to Darth Vader (#4)

Thanks for the useful input Darth Vader.

On a serious note, I know their Strat division is small, but I'm hoping because of that I'll get more responsibility, quicker than I would at places with larger Strategy divisions.

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#6 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
13/03/2009 13:11

Liffey Xabich to Dave (#5)

I'm afraid that early responsibility anywhere within Accenture (or any firm of the same size and inflexible bulk) is extremely unlikely. There is so much tooth-and-nail fighting for the strategic work within ACN that you need to be overqualified/highly brown-nosed to stand a chance of getting on a project. The consequence is that you're more likely to experience "late responsibility".

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#7 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
13/03/2009 15:33

Dave to Liffey Xabich (#6)

mmmm. That doesn't sound too promising.

I was out of the country when McK/Bain were interviewing last year, I got the ACN offer as a result of an internship there so, without the opportunity to interview elsewhere I took it, only on the promise they'd put me in Strategy.

There don't seem to be many fans of ACN on this forum, but I very much doubt recruiting is still going on at any decent level at MBB.

Guess it's going to be a case of suck it up, work hard and hope for an element of luck and reliance on networking to fight my way to where I want to be.

Ah well, I'm never happy without a challenge...

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#8 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
14/03/2009 06:19

pete to Dave (#7)

Dave, you are right that at this stage its tough to find something anywhere else. My advice is whatever you have, stick to it. If you are looking for responsibility, then key is to show lot of initiative and hard work. Regarding your MBA plans, you can always re-asses them after two years, its not that you have to start MBA tomorrow. So whatever offer is there, make most of it and good luck with everything.

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#9 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
14/03/2009 15:55

FAS to Dave (#1)

Another thing to consider - you have a 1 year leadtime from applying to the MBA to starting it. To start your MBA with 2 years experience, you'd be applying with 1 year of work experience. Whether you've been a gimp at McKinsey, a gimp at Accenture, or a self-employed entreneurial gimp, that doesn't position you well for a post-MBA career. Even if you go back to your old firm, you can only come back in where you left off (i.e. as a low-level gimp). Otherwise, you have to start your career afresh. Neither lends itself to a good ROI.

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#10 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
16/03/2009 16:22

Darth Vader to FAS (#9)

didn't mean to be disrespectful to you Dave, just to these IT charlatans pretending to compete against The Firm.

They called me a few years ago for a job. Was quite reluctant because these IT companies are the first to close any strategy practice comes recession. Additionally they don't have any ethics and use strategy projects to sell IT project. Yhe recruiter was very persistent and I accepted a phone interview. I was not disappointed.

They were indeed looking for consultants with strong strategy experience... but not to do strategy. They wanted me to make complex business cases to convince their customers to buy large outsourcing projects.

On the other hand if you have nothing else...

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#11 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
16/03/2009 17:13

Mars A Day to Darth Vader (#10)

Darth I think Dave's attitude is refreshing - get in there, fight the good fight (lose inevitably) and take that experience elsewhere... but I concur with the others here on the MBA - 2 years anywhere, be it ACN or MBB, is not enough to make the MBA worthwhile. and let's be honest Dave, you might decide on a whole different career after a while with ACN anyway.

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#12 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
16/03/2009 19:13

Dave to Mars A Day (#11)

Darth, no disrespect taken. I appreciate their is a rather large (widening possibly in the recession?) void between the MBB's of the world and the so-called "strategy" departments of the like's of ACN.

Believe me, I wish the timing of the recession and my interview periods had been better - I'm well capable of MBB-level work - degree from a top 5 Uni (admittedly, not Oxbridge - but that's not a requirement these days), academic experience abroad in the U.S., Internship experience at some blue chips.

As Mars suggests, reckon I'll just fight to the best I can achieve while things are looking sour out there and see where the road goes. The MBA plan will come good at some stage I'm sure.

Just out of interest then - why is it that MBB tend to send people to do their MBA after 2/3 yrs, when most of you guys seem agreed that it's too early?

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#13 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
17/03/2009 08:49

Darth Vader to Dave (#12)

Hi Dave,

I worked with McKinsey a long time ago (1997). People did an MBA after 4/5 years of experience. Some had indeed worked for the Firm for only 2/3 years but they were those who had joined McKinsey after a first experience (less than 2 years) often in M&A.

That said I would disagree with many negative comments on this forum about MBA. When I did mine people also told me it would be useless (I was too experienced according to them, to old to go back to strategy). I did Warwick - which is very good but cannot compared with Harvard or LBS - and it did changed my business life. I repaid the invesment in less than a year (arguably I was underpaid before I did the MBA) and now I work exclusively on strategy or high-level organisational design. I was indeed too old to join ATK, OC&C... but thanks to the MBA I was able to set up my own business. My projects can certainly not compared with those of the MBB, but are far better than what I could do for AcN, Deloitte... By the way the consultants who advised me not to do an MBA work on IT crap projects now.

The MBA route is not a sure bet but it can really open up opportunities.

By the way, among those who recommend not to do an MBA, how many have (a decent) one?

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#14 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
17/03/2009 11:03

anon to Darth Vader (#13)

This conversation is boring.

Dave, why do you want to do an MBA?

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#15 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
17/03/2009 18:48

Dave to anon (#14)

anon, may I suggest you click elsewhere if you're finding it boring. I've actually found it very useful and greatly appreciate (most) people's inputs.

My motivation for doing an MBA is two-fold.

Firstly, some of them (particularly the bigger U.S. schools) seem to be great 'hot-houses' for start-ups - it seems inevitable that spending two years with other ambitious, bright, business minded folks will turn up a few good ideas.

Secondly, I don't want to be in a 'second-string' large corporate forever and a day. Hopefully a strong MBA will provide options to step into higher tier or more boutique firms. It also, as Darth points out, allows for the opportunity to start out on my own.

Thank you all for your points, I hope I haven't bored you too much

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#16 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
17/03/2009 18:56

Princess Leia to Dave (#1)


Most strategy analysts at top firms go on to pursue an MBA after 2 years. You can always apply and if doesn't work out then reapply the year after (except with INSEAD which doesn't like reapplicants).

Btw, Judge is not same tier as LBS/INSEAD.

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#17 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
18/03/2009 07:32

Ben to Darth Vader (#13)

Hi Darth,

As an older MBA, what were your alternative options on graduation other than a start up? Were you also too old for industry roles (as well as consulting/ib), or did you just not fancy other routes? As you can probably guess, I'm also a slightly older person (just wrong side of thirty) looking at whether an MBA would be suitable at this stage (aiming for cambridge/oxford).

Also, I'm guessing you had a significant savings bucket to draw from after graduation, otherwise starting up your own business wouldn't have been possible?


Dave, sorry to jump your thread: good luck, enjoy your final year, and the summer!!

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#18 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
18/03/2009 08:32

Dart Vader to Ben (#17)

Hi Ben,

I did an Exec MBA. Between the modules I did strategy projects, which was a way to apply what I was learning at Warwick and strenghten my CV after a few years of organizational design.

I did the first 2-3 projects for free and financed them - as well as the MBA - with the paycheck I had received from my consultancy when I left.

I had no plans to remain a freelancer at that time, but the interviews I had with ATK, OC&C, Oliver Wyman (no MBB) did not work out. Experience more than age was a concern for them (I was too specialised in FS for OC&C and ADL, and not enough focused on investment banking for OW). However it is also likely that I was not convincing enough during interviews.

I had no interviews for a role in industry (i.e. banking/FS) though I applied many times for a position in strategy/corporate development. Again either I was too experienced or not focused enough (I've worked in the full spectrum of the FS while most of the positions required a strong focus on retail banking, or asset management, etc...).

Finally, remaining on my own appeared to be the only way for me to work on strategy.

I don't think you can draw general conclusions form my case. If I had been better during the interviews I might work today at ATK. If I had worked in retail or manufacturing instead of FS I might have had more opportunities in industry...

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#19 RE: Pre-MBA Experience
18/03/2009 12:57

anon to Dave (#15)


The reason why this is boring is because you haven't even started at ACN and already you thinking of leaving. to me this is a problem.

You have all these great ideas and seem ambitious but, when push came to shove for interviewing/prep with MBBB you were out of the country.

This doesn't side like a guy who is committed.

So everyone gives you advice great but were is the commitment to you short term career?

"I was out of the country when McK/Bain were interviewing last year" this doesn't wash!

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