Q & A: What Are My Career Options After Management Consulting?

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

Q: I got into consulting, but don't like it. What are my career options after consulting?

A: Plenty!

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Q: I got into consulting, but don't like it. What are my career options after consulting?

A: Plenty!

One of the top reasons why people pursue consulting is that they don't know what they want to do after graduation or an MBA. They don't want to take a job that pigeonholes them to a single skill, so they choose consulting, which makes them a generalist whose skills are transferable in any line of business.

Consulting has a high churn rate, which means that many people leave the company every year as new people come on board. It doesn't matter if the firm is McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, BCG or AT Kearney. BCG may be rated as one of the best places to work in the latest Forbes ranking, but it will still have a high churn rate. The high churn inherent in consulting stems primarily from the various career options that open up:
  • Move to industry after consulting - Many consultants work on a number of projects in one area, developing expertise in a particular industry like healthcare, education, and financial services. Most partners in consulting firms are experts in 1-2 areas and are responsible for generating business from those areas.  Many consultants who are looking to switch from consulting after significant exposure to a particular industry seek opportunities in mid-to senior-level management positions in the industry of their expertise.
  • Move to the investment side - Private Equity/VC  after consulting - One of the primary motivations to get into consulting is the steep learning curve that comes with the job.  This expedited learning gives one a good grasp of tools to analyze businesses, revenue generation and margin improvement, identify a good market versus an average or declining one. A solid 2-3 years of consulting experience equips one with the confidence to look at almost any failing business through a data-driven approach and pinpoint the problems it faces. This skill has a particular advantage among Private Equity and Venture Capital jobs. Most prestigious PE shops will have a mandatory consulting or banking experience requirement to qualify for a job. Many consultants leave consulting jobs to work in PE or VC.
  • Consulting, a great route to business school - One of the primary drivers for undergraduate students to pursue consulting early on in their careers is that it presents an excellent platform to get into business school. Many analysts, after 2 -3 years of consulting experience, apply to business schools, again adding to the above-average churn prevalent in consulting.
  • Entrepreneurship after consulting - Consultants with an entrepreneurial zest leave consulting to start a company on their own or work for a start-up. This is frequently seen among alumni of top-tier consulting firms who feel confident enough in the skills they have picked up during their consulting stints to go out on their own.
Consulting companies understand that a high churn is characteristic of the business and, at times, encourage it. The continuous churn means new people and fresh ideas coming on board while creating a strong alumni network. Imagine a McKinsey consultant leaves after 4 years to join a Fortune 500 financial services company in their strategy team. This alum will be inclined to consider McKinsey as the first choice for any consulting assignment his business division or region may want to engage in. This is a win-win situation for the alum as well as McKinsey!
    Churn in consulting firms isn't a bad thing. Plenty of career options exist post-consulting !
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