BTU #133 – What it takes to become a McKinsey Consultant (original data analysis)

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Why to Listen: 

Management Consulting is the fifth most popular career route for Veterans of the Armed Forces. Today we’re going to be doing a data episode, specifically with information from LinkedIn, that I’ve put together to discover the different paths veterans have taken within the field of management consulting. This is something I’ve been thinking about for nearly a year. It’s just been difficult to carve out the time to sift through all the information that is on LinkedIn. Rather than waiting to publish this information as a massive e-book, I thought it might be better to start out with a podcast. I would really appreciate any feedback you might have. It will help me drill down on what people are interested in learning more about. Feel free to leave that feedback in the shownotes.

There’s so much data out there and I’m going to go into just a tiny bit of it today. But if you have any specific topics or points you’d like to see covered in the future, please let me know. It does take a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to go through all of this data so your feedback helps me understand what is most valuable to you and whether the juice is worth the squeeze or if I should focus more on the traditional interview podcasts.

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps: 

Today we’re going to be doing a data episode, specifically with information from LinkedIn, that I’ve put together to discover the different paths veterans have taken within the field of management consulting.

First just a few quick announcements –

(0:30)

The first announcement is that on January 17, 2018 at 6PM/PST, I’m going to be hosting an online panel called Veterans in Consulting. It’s going to be really cool – I’ll have three different veterans who went directly from the military to a consulting firm. We’re going to be talking about everything you could possibly want to know about a career in consulting. Pay, lifestyle, career trajectory, etc.  You can pre-register now and you’ll be notified when registration opens.There will be a nominal fee associated with this – somewhere between $10-$15. This allows me to continue to do this podcast for free as a side gig.

 

(2:23)

The second announcement is that if you haven’t had the opportunity to leave us a review on iTunes, definitely do that. I would greatly appreciate a 5-star review, it helps up get the word out about the show and serve as many veterans as possible.

 

(2:45)

And now let’s move into the episode. This is something I’ve been thinking about for nearly a year. It’s just been difficult to carve out the time to sift through all the information that is on LinkedIn. Rather than waiting to publish this information as a massive e-book, I thought it might be better to start out with a podcast. I would really appreciate any feedback you might have. It will help me drill down on what people are interested in learning more about. Feel free to leave that feedback in the shownotes. Or you can email me at justin@beyondtheuniform.io – I would really appreciate it as I want to make the information in these podcasts as valuable as possible.

 

(3:55)

There’s so much data out there and I’m going to go into just a tiny bit of it today. But if you have any specific topics or points you’d like to see covered in the future, please let me know. It does take a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to go through all of this data so your feedback helps me understand what is most valuable to you and whether the juice is worth the squeeze or if I should focus more on the traditional interview podcasts.

 

(4:25)

Let’s go through a quick agenda for today. In Part 1, I’m going to talk about why management consulting might be a good fit for you as a military veteran. In Part 2, we’re going to look at the key players in consulting. In Part 3, we’ll talk about my methodology and how I got this data. In Part 4, we’re going to talk about titles and corresponding salaries. And then finally in Part 5, where we’ll spend the bulk of our time, we’re going to do a deep dive into the data.

(5:25)

Let’s dive into Part 1. The reason why I wanted to talk about this is that consulting is a very common career path for veterans. When I compiled data a year ago, consulting is the fifth leading industry that veterans go into. Another reason is that from a data standpoint, consulting is very analogous to the military. In the military, I understood exactly how long it would take me to go from Ensign to Lieutenant Junior Grade and from Lieutenant Junior Grade to Lieutenant. This is the same thing in consulting, there is a very clear career path and very standardized roles. Consulting is also a field I’m a little bit more familiar with. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my story, I went to the US Naval Academy and spent five years on submarines before getting out and going to Stanford Business School. I did my internship at McKinsey and Company in New York. I didn’t ultimately end up in the field but during that internship I did get a taste of the consulting industry and what it was like. I’ll try to add in some of that anecdotal experience when I see the opportunity throughout this episode.

 

(7:26)

Part 2 – In putting together this data, I looked at a Forbes 2015 article titled, “The Most Prestigious Consulting Firms”. They listed what they considered to be the Top 10 consulting firms.

 

No. 1 – McKinsey & Company

No. 2 – Boston Consulting Group

No. 3 – Bain and Company

No 4 – Deloitte

No. 5 – Booz Allen Hamilton

No. 6 – Price Waterhouse Cooper

No. 7 – Ernst & Young

No. 8 – Accenture

No. 9 – KPMG

No. 10 – IBM Global Business Services

 

(9:00)

The bulk of the data I have goes through length of service, branch of service, etc. in reference to the top 10 consulting firms. Today, however, I want to specifically focus on McKinsey which brings up to Part 3.

 

(9:19)

When talking about the methodology behind gathering this data , I focused on McKinsey but based on feedback, we can focus on other firms in the future. All of the data we will go through today is gathered through LinkedIn. The reason for that is that it is my personal belief that very few people today take the time to fill out surveys. And so by using this publicly available data, I think we will gather a much greater data set.

(10:22)

When gathering data, I looked at all people working in consulting that had formerly been in the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard – both officer and enlisted. For today’s episode, I’m going to specifically drill into one position. The most common position to enter McKinsey & Company is the title of associate. So today, we’ll deal mostly with associates.

 

(11:34)

Now in Part 4, let’s talk about title. When we talk on January 17th in the online panel, we’re going to go into a lot more detail on career progression. Career progression does vary depending on firm. But for today, I wanted to cover the top three titles that are most likely for a veteran to start in at McKinsey & Company. Those are associate, engagement manager, and partner. Associate is by far the leading of those three. This is generally the level of promotion within McKinsey. Usually, someone will start out as an associate, become an engagement manager, then an associate partner, and finally a partner. Let’s chat quickly about salaries.

 

(12:55)

I looked at a website called Glassdoor. Glassdoor compiles information about what people usually make in a particular position. According to Glassdoor, an associate at McKinsey makes $172,000 per year. That’s $140,000 of a base salary with $32,000 in incentives. Also the hotel and flight points are another perk. The downside is that consultants tend to be on the road quite a bit but the upside is that they also tend to build up hotel and airline reward points.

 

(14:00)

What does an associate do? According to McKinsey’s website, an associate works in teams of 3-5 people. The associate has a role in all aspects of client engagement. I’ll also put a link in the show notes to the full job description. This was my experience during my internship with McKinsey. The title was actually called “consultant”. On one project it was five people and in the other project, four people. We went into the company, we worked almost around the clock doing interviews and gathering data. It’s almost like a SWAT team inserted into the company to solve a particular problem and provide a solution.

 

(14:55)

The next role up from that is engagement manager. According to Glassdoor, that’s a starting salary of $250,000 per year. What does an engagement manager do? They will lead a team of 3-5 people on a project. In my experience, the engagement manager was a member of that team that had done the associate role for 2 or 3 years and had excelled. As the engagement manager, they were doing less of the data analysis and more of supervising the others on the team. They were really leading the project and breaking it down into small pieces for each of us while keeping an overall picture of the project.

 

(16:05)

For partner, the salary is quite impressive – $1.2 million per year. Pretty mind boggling. Base salary is $572,000 with the rest being made up of incentives. There was no job description that I was able to find online. In my experience with McKinsey, I usually saw the partner about once a week. Generally, the partner works on selling the business. They would go to different companies and sell projects. At McKinsey, the partners had usually been in the company for a while. They were extremely bright and extremely talented. They weren’t there on a project day in and day out like the engagement manager, but they were more of an oversight role. They were actively involved in making sure the project was going well.

 

(17:44)

And now in Part 5, we’ll take a deep dive into the data. Let’s talk about branch of service. And again, we’re only talking about the associate position at McKinsey. When you look at veterans that are currently associates at McKinsey, 55% are Army veterans, 31% Navy, 11% Air Force. Only 2% were Marines and I could not find any Coast Guard veterans working at McKinsey.

 

(19:00)

For the veterans currently serving as an associate at McKinsey, they usually took one of three routes to get there. First, some went directly from the military to McKinsey. Others went to some form of schooling between the military and McKinsey. Or third, they worked in a different job between the military and McKinsey. The overwhelming majority that became an associate at McKinsey came from some sort of schooling. This isn’t too surprising. Education can be that giant Nintendo “reset” button that allows someone to start over in a different field. Also, according to McKinsey’s website, to work as an associate, you need an advanced degree of some sort. According to my research 89% of veterans at McKinsey had an MBA, 6% had a Master’s of Science, 4% had a Ph.D., and 2% had a Master’s of Arts.

 

(22:03)

If MBA is the most popular advanced degree for veterans looking to get into consulting, you might be wondering what the most popular schools are. And I love you all so much that I dug into that data too. There was a tie for first place – 20% went to Harvard and 20% went to Wharton. Next up was the Darden School of Business with 10%. In third place, another tie – 6% went to the Booth School in Chicago and 6% went to MIT’s Sloan School of Management. You can find links to all of these programs in the show notes.

 

(23:05)

Whether you’re interested in going into consulting or something else, I just think it’s helpful to see what schools veterans tend to go to. And quick plug here for Service To School. I get nothing for pumping them up, but I really believe in them. They are an incredible and free resource for veterans looking to get any kind of degree. One last caveat on education – there were a few overachievers in the dataset that had multiple degrees. I just simplified this for my own analysis. In the case that someone had multiple degrees, I considered this group to be in the same data set as those with one degree.

 

(24:22)

Finally, let’s talk about length of service. I cut this down in a couple different ways. First of all, a veteran working as an associate at McKinsey has served for 6.6 years prior to leaving active duty. However, if you look at the route the veteran took, if a veteran went directly from the military to McKinsey, the average length of service was 9.7 years. This was interesting for me because an MBA is 2 years. So if you went from active duty to some sort of graduate program such as an MBA, on average you end up getting to McKinsey one year sooner than someone who goes straight from active duty to McKinsey. However if you’re part of that small group that goes directly from the military to McKinsey, while it does take one year longer to get there, you need to keep in mind that you’re saving yourself at least $120,000 in school tuition. And you’re not sacrificing two years of not getting paid. For me, I took the route of getting out earlier and going to business school. I liked it, it worked out well for me. But there are advantages to staying in longer.

 

(26:30)

When broken down by service, Navy vets tended to have slightly more military service – about 7.2 years. Compared to the Army and Air Force which were both at about 6.2 years. For the Marine Corps, they served about 11 years on average.

 

(26:45)

My head is now spinning from going through all this data. Please let me know if this is helpful. I can imagine that this might be difficult to take in via podcast. If it would be easier for you, I can create an e-book and put all of the graphs in there. It does take 10 or 20 times longer to go through all of this data than it does to interview a veteran. I do it because it’s data that I would have wanted to have if I transitioned today. But it would be really helpful to me to receive your feedback, whether you email me, message me on LInkedIn, write something in the show note comments. Please let me know in some way. If you’re not finding this helpful, I can let the Excel spreadsheet cool off a bit and go back to focusing more on the traditional interviews. But there is a tremendous amount of material available. I’ve got all this data sitting here, I just haven’t prioritized parsing through all of it. But if you would find it helpful, I will suck it up and make it happen! Either way, don’t miss out on the chance to sign up for the January 17th Veterans in Consulting video panel session. This is a fantastic opportunity to talk to three veterans that went straight from the military into consulting. We’re going to talk about everything including lifestyle, interview prep, and career progression.

 

(28:50)

One last plug to leave an iTunes review. Your review helps us get in front of more listeners and having more listeners lets me know we’re having a greater impact on the veteran community. If you’re not on our newsletter, please sign up at www.beyondtheuniform.io. I always love hearing from you if there are particular people or careers you would like to hear more about. Have a great week – I will be back next week with another interview with a veteran now working in the civilian sector.

 

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