by Alex Hurd, MiM Recruitment Associate
The Masters in Management (MiM) programme at LBS can kick-start a career into many different business sectors – but the one that proves most popular with our MiM graduates year after year is Consulting. I sat down with Daniel Lay, Consulting Sector Manager in our Career Centre, to get an inside perspective on the industry and the current job climate.
Daniel originally worked at Standard Chartered Bank within their Strategy group after graduating from university. He then moved into helping postgraduate students get into consulting roles – which he has been doing for the past 8 years.
LBS and the ‘big three’
When it comes to consulting firms, the ‘big three’ – McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain – are always high in demand with our MiM graduates. But likewise, these firms will actively reach out and hire our students, coming to campus to recruit directly. This usually takes place in term one, as applications to join the firm open early in the academic year.
Daniel Lay: “They’re on campus. They target the school and they target the MiM programme. The positive for any student joining any Early Career programme is that you are in the shop window. It shows they are proactively targeting students and not just coming here for the sake of it.”
With consulting jobs, Daniel warns of a need to think outside the box sometimes. “Be realistic. Keep an open mind. There are lots and lots of consulting opportunities. Students tend to focus on McKinsey, BCG and Bain but there are obviously many other firms out there. Getting an offer from MBB is extremely competitive so it pays to have a plan b and c. Make it your motivation to break into the industry and not just a particular firm.”
So, what are the main benefits of working in consulting? Why do so many MiM graduates want to move into this sector?
“The good thing with consulting is the variety of projects you undertake and the fact that the learning curve is so steep. One of the great exit opportunities is into strategy roles within corporates. These are roles which you wouldn’t necessarily be able to get through taking the traditional route of joining a corporate in a graduate role. Consulting can let you parachute into these more senior and strategic roles whilst still being at a relatively early stage of your career.”
Generalist or the specialist route?
Firms within the consulting sector typically fall into those that are generalist and those that are more specialist. The former operate across multiple industries and functions whilst the specialists (or ‘boutiques’) typically focus on one industry and/or function and are therefore seen as greater ‘experts’- Daniel shed some light on the main differences between the two:
“The specialist route can be seen as less appealing as students feel they are being ‘pigeon-holed’ from day one. But with the generalist path at some point you will be expected to specialise. However, the first 2-3 years of your career will see you operate across numerous industries and functions. Many students find this greatly appealing. It is difficult to go from specialist to generalist but a lot easier the other way around. With the boutique firms you are a specialist from day one. This, however, suits many of our students, as they want to leverage their previous experience, education and passion and align that to a particular industry…perhaps a not-for-profit consultancy or one that specialises on the energy industry and renewables.”
Success of our previous MiM classes
It is also important to understand the consulting job market is competitive and very broad. “Fundamentally almost half the class go into consulting but that doesn’t mean they are all going into strategy houses such as McKinsey, Bain and BCG. It also doesn’t mean they all work in London. Our student cohort is extremely diverse and international and this is hugely appreciated and important to consulting firms. They value the ‘fit’ these students might have with a particular region. So, when a candidate has a great localised education and internship experience along with specific language skills, it is likely they will be far more competitive in that region, and this might be their home country. London Business School is a great place to achieve your consulting ambitions but it’s about managing expectations, particularly when it comes to who and where you will start your career.”
“I have been helping students get into consulting for over 8 years. I’ve been doing it long enough to know the trends and, what applicants need to focus on. We have seen enough classes to know what it takes to get into the sector.”
There are exciting opportunities on either side of consulting. Whether you want to take the generalist route first or start as a specialist, there is potential for a great career post LBS. You can see the incredible employment statistics for all of the recent MiM 2019 graduating class, with 95% receiving job offers within 3 months of graduating, in our latest employment report.
Interested in launching your career in consulting? Submit your CV for an informal review with our Recruitment team.