Myths about management consulting

In this post, we dispel or confirm some myths about the profession, here we go:

Management consultants are useless:they tell us things that we already know in a fancy presentation

Debatable, it is true that the client usually knows their business better than a consultant. Consultant brings expertise on a particular area, e.g. M&A, Marketing. They also bring horsepower to get the job done and outsiders fresh perspective; corporate America is full of folks who drank the kool-aid on many issues.

You need an MBA to get into management consulting

Not true, many folks have other degrees. Majority of consultants have MBAs but many firms pride themselves on having diverse set of backgrounds.

Management and strategy consultants do only high level work with C level execs

Not true. If you think that you will be mingling with Fortune 100 CEO’s right off the bat, you’re sadly mistaken. There’s lots of legwork to be done and it frequently involves working with managers, engineers, etc. However, in a few years into consulting, audiences with C-level execs and board members become a regular occasion.

Hours are terrible and you spend your life in hotels

Not true. Hours vary by firm, the practice (e.g. auto vs. financial services) etc. The rule of thumb is consultants are expected to work harder than their clients, which translates into 50-60 hour weeks. The workload is variable as well, usually the weeks with critical deliverables tend to be hellish.

Travel also varies a lot, firm policies, client base impact it a lot. Anywhere between 20-100% is possible.

Junior employees of companies hate management consultants

Depends. If you task is to cut costs and you’re planning to do it by firing people, chances are you may not be very popular. This does not mean that they won’t cooperate with you, it is usually the reverse. If you are helping the middle management solve their problems, they will love work with you, because the strategic project are piled on them in addition to their day jobs and they can use your help.

Management consultants are stuck up snobs talking about pie in the sky strategy and recommendations that lead to nowhere

This used to be true, I think. However; the market is chancing all clients are looking for practical solutions in short amount of time, no more ivory tower lecturing.

The up-or-out policy causes a cut-throat environment among staff

True, people support each other on projects to get things done but the overall career path is pretty agressive and competitive. 1 out of 10 makes partner and this is due to life choices and competition

Management consultants make lots of money

Not true. Consulting usually pays better than corporate jobs. Think of it as a premium for the hours you put in and the nights away from home. Top firms want to attract top MBAs, so the market also pressures them to pay good salaries. Still, it is lower than some other careers such as I-Banking, Private equity, Venture Capital or Hedge funds. See my post on compensation to get a broad idea.

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