How to Break into the “MBB”—Best Business Schools for Landing Top Consulting Jobs
With starting salaries in the $140,000 to $150,000 range and a customary $25,000 signing bonus on top of that, it’s no wonder so many business school students target the prestige consulting firms known as the “MBB”—McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company—as their post-MBA landing pads. That $170,000+ annual compensation package can quickly cut any MBA loan debt you may have taken on down to size.
Indeed, management consulting has been one of the most coveted career paths for fresh MBA grads for ages. And though the technology industry has in recent years been stealing some grads from the consulting industry’s traditional slice of the pie, the most recent MBA employment reports reveal that consulting is already making a comeback against tech at certain schools.
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The opportunity to work with a range of clients comprised of many of the world’s most celebrated businesses across industries—tech included—is part of the appeal of consulting. In many ways, a top consulting gig allows MBA grads to continue their management education while getting paid for it—and further honing their skills and expertise by helping solve a wide variety of business challenges. And, not for nothing, breaking into the MBB is a highly competitive pursuit—one that almost assures that your colleagues will be smart, driven people you’ll get a lot out of working with.
Finally, where the top consulting firms are choosing to find their talent reflects on the quality of the education those schools’ students are getting. In many ways, the hiring practices of the MBB can serve as a gold star standard of sorts for MBA programs.
Elite Firms Hire Grads from Elite Business Schools
The crème de la crème of leading business school talent has headed toward the top consulting firms for decades—and performed well there—creating a virtuous circle of sorts in which the firms’ appetite for such talent only grows. And while this piece focuses on MBB, we should note that a host of other consulting firms—Deloitte, A.T. Kearney, Accenture, Strategy&, and Oliver Wyman among others—are also highly prized post-MBA destinations.
If you are looking to see which business schools send the greatest percentage of their graduates into consulting overall, don’t miss our September 2017 analysis of leading consulting industry feeder schools. Which schools top the list? And what stands out about how these schools successfully train students for careers in consulting?
Looking at Class of 2016 graduates, the University of Virginia’s Darden School led the pack, with 38 percent of its graduates heading into consulting. Columbia Business School was next, sending 35 percent, followed closely by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, which sent 33 percent.
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The 2017 employment reports, which have been released since our analysis last fall, show some shifts year over year. Darden tied with Emory’s Goizueta School of Business in terms of the percentage of Class of 2017 grads who headed into consulting, with each school sending 34 percent. Close on their heels were Columbia, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and Dartmouth’s Tuck School. All four sent 33 percent of their most recent graduating class off to consulting firms.
2 Non-U.S. Schools Lead All Others in Consulting-Bound ’17 MBA Grads
But year after year, one thing remains the same. INSEAD, with campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi, beats all leading U.S. business schools when it comes to consulting. INSEAD’s 2016 MBA employment report, detailing employment outcomes for December 2015 and July 2016 INSEAD grads, shows that 46 percent went into consulting. And the most recent figures reveal that almost a full half—49 percent—of the 1,029 students who completed the INSEAD MBA program in December 2016 and July 2017 chose to either enter or return to the consulting field.
We should note here that INSEAD is distinct from many other schools in that it includes sponsored students who are returning to their pre-MBA employers among its hiring stats. This is in contrast to many U.S. schools, where the reported number and percentage of students hired by sector and employer corresponds to those students actively seeking employment, excluding sponsored students. Of the 49 percent of INSEAD 2017 grads headed into consulting, 33 percent were new hires and the remaining 16 percent were returnees.
London Business School (LBS) was the runner-up for the Class of 2017, sending 41 percent of grads into consulting. This was a 6 percentage-point gain over the school’s previous class of MBA graduates. Like INSEAD, LBS’s reported sector designation and top employer information includes sponsored students, only its employment report does not disclose what percentage of the class those returning students represent.