It is a career path that many MBAs dream about: a job at a “Big Three” strategy consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, the Boston Consulting Group, or Bain & Company—often referred to as the “MBB” consulting firms. The pay, prestige and networks that come with such a gig can set a newly-minted MBA up for life.
Working for these top consulting firms, MBAs also get the chance to work directly with many of the world’s most influential corporations, organizations and governments.
All three firms are voted as the best consulting firms to work for in North America, according to a recent ranking from the career-advice website Vault.
Even if they take on a lot of MBAs, the workforces of the Big Three firms are relatively small when compared with full-service professional services firms such as PwC, Accenture or Deloitte. And the competition for jobs is intense, with the elite firms only taking a mere fraction of those who apply. McKinsey received 750,000 job applications last year, with fewer than one percent making the cut. And Kevin Sneader, McKinsey’s CEO, told the Financial Times recently that the proportion of employees who have MBAs — currently 37 percent — will fall to “less than a third” as the firm seeks to diversify its ranks.
What kinds of positions can an MBA get at an MBB consulting firm? MBAs often enter these firms at the consultant or even senior consultant level position, or even project management. In terms of career progression, it helps to have some kind of pre-MBA experience in a Top Three or other high-profile consulting firm.
So which MBA programs are best for getting a job in the MBB firms? We’ve done the research and compiled a list of the top ten:
There is perhaps no better proof than taking a look at the employment destinations of schools’ graduates. And at INSEAD, around half of the latest graduating class accepted job offers from consulting firms. While they go to varied firms, the school claims in its employment report that it is the number one “source of talent for sector leaders McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company."View School Profile
INSEAD is far from alone in that respect. According to London Business School’s 2017 career report, 37 of its MBA students were hired by McKinsey, 36 by BCG and 35 went to work for Bain. In fact, the largest contingent of all consulting hires went to the top-three strategy firms. Overall, 41 percent of the cohort are working in the consulting sector.View School Profile
At Columbia Business School, an equally impressive 33 percent of MBAs went to work in the consulting industry, according to the school’s 2017 employment report. But more impressive still is that the MBB firms were the top recruiters of the entire cohort. McKinsey hired 55 of Columbia MBAs, BCG got 36, and Bain snapped up 27.View School Profile
The Kellogg School of Management has long been known as a feeder to the consultancy sector and the school’s career report from 2017 confirms it: One-third of the class went into the industry. What’s more, the company which hired the largest number of Kellogg’s MBAs overall was McKinsey (40 hires), followed by BCG (36 hires) and Bain (28 hires).View School Profile
McKinsey also seems to love the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, as the Big Three strategy house hired 48 MBAs, according to 2017 employment data — making it the top overall employer of Booth MBAs, above even Amazon, which hired 26. In addition, BCG was not far behind with 26 hires also, and Bain snapped up 22 MBAs from Booth.View School Profile
The Wall Street Oasis website, better known for investment banking tips, recently compiled a ranking of the top feeder schools for the Big Three, based on data of its 1,555 users who hold positions at consulting firms. Among those who work at McKinsey, the largest single contingent (more than six percent) came from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. In addition, among those who work at BCG, five percent are Ross alums, the second largest contingent behind Harvard Business School.View School Profile
Darden offers an MBA concentration in strategy consulting, which introduces students to the consulting process and deepens the skill sets they need for roles at the Big Three (and other) firms. Darden’s success is evident in its 2017 careers figures, which show that 34 per cent of its MBA cohort landed jobs at consulting firms. The MBB firms are among the school’s top recruiters.View School Profile
The Tuck school goes one step further than Darden, offering students the chance to work for the Tuck Student Consulting Service (TSCS), in which students get hands-on consulting work with real companies. The business school’s 2017 employment report shows that the largest crop of MBA students went to the consulting industry (33 percent). By function, strategy consulting was the most popular (38 percent). Among the top hiring companies overall are Bain, McKinsey and BCG.View School Profile
In the same vein, the prestigious Wharton school runs a Global Consulting Practicum each year, in which students work with global teams to help a company enter (or expand within) the North American market — mirroring the work of a real strategy consultant. Wharton’s popular student-run Consulting Club also hosts an annual Consulting Conference, at which MBAs can rub shoulders with the industry’s leaders — a good networking opportunity. A smaller portion of Wharton’s MBAs enter consulting than many of its peer schools (about 16 percent) but the largest functional area of employment is consulting and strategy (25 percent). The school’s leading employers include, of course, McKinsey, Bain and BCG.View School Profile
At the Yale School of Management a whopping 48 percent of MBAs went to work in the consulting function (either employed by consulting firms or directly by their clients), according to the school’s 2017 employment report. In addition, around 36 per cent are working in consulting as an industry, employed by the Big Three as well as a range of other leading consultancy firms such as Deloitte and PwC.View School Profile