Among the Big Three consulting firms, Boston Consulting Group is considered more innovative, with focus on new tech trends like AI. Size-wise, BCG is considered the second most prestigious, and largest, MBB consulting firm, only ranking behind McKinsey.
There’s no easy way, however, to point out which MBB firm is the best destination for each applicant. The situation, offerings, and culture of each office will vary depending on the region and the managing partner. Not to mention, things like compensation, benefits, and training opportunities are roughly the same at all three MBB firms.
That’s not to say working for BCG is completely lackluster. Simply working for an MBB firm already comes with extraordinary perks, and there are many company-wide strategies and traits that make BCG appealing to new recruits.
In the following article, we will discuss seven distinctive points that make working for Boston Consulting Group worthwhile.
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The first thing that comes to mind when applicants think about benefits of consulting works are: travel benefits, compensations, training opportunities and exit options. In this section, we will discuss these aspects, and look at some other points that might just persuade you to work for Boston Consulting Group.
Flexibility between local and international opportunities
BCG uses a regional staffing model to staff its client projects. Hence, a BCG consultant can work with people across many offices but doesn’t have to adapt to a drastically different culture. This means there are more chances for international learning and networking at BCG than in the office-based model at Bain, but with less travel than at McKinsey.
International projects are still readily available for those wanting to experience the world and fly across borders. Consultants can ask to work on international projects or enroll in mobility and secondment programs, allowing international office transfers. BCG consultants can either be temporarily staffed on international projects or enjoy prolonged transfers to other BCG international offices.
Great emphasis on creativity and innovation
BCG consultants do not have to be forced into a pre-existing framework, they can just use or develop one as they see fit. For creative problem solvers, who want to create something for yourself, this aspect of BCG gives you much more freedom and space to shine.
BCG has many side ventures in the innovative tech sector. They launched BCG Digital Ventures (now part of BCG X) to fund and build up technology companies and start-ups. For consulting, BCG offers a suite of AI consulting services through its AI @ Scale initiative. These endeavors represent BCG’s shift of focus towards operational and implementation work, especially in highly innovative fields.
An academic environment with brilliant people
As the second largest and the second most prestigious consulting firm, BCG has real leverage in the competition for these brilliant minds. As a result, BCG is chock-full of MBAs, post-grads, and PhDs from many different fields (though their rate of non-MBA hires somewhat lags behind McKinsey).
They have also cultivated the reputation of having a more “academic environment” with more “nerdy people”. Numerous fellow programs within BCG give high-performers the freedom to research strategically significant topics. You can devote up to 30% of your time, with company-supported resources, to your chosen area.
High performers could also be picked (or apply) to join the BCG Henderson Institute, a think tank that employs the best minds across all of BCG’s offices. Their task is to predict the trajectory of current trends and guide BCG’s clients toward innovating and adapting their strategies.
Top-notch compensation and benefits
Benefits and compensations are some of the biggest draws of the consultant's namesake: huge pay-check, luxurious travels, 5-star dining, and the list goes on. Though, compared to McKinsey and Bain, the salary at BCG is a bit smaller, it is still beyond the wildest dreams of many other industries.
Senior levels at BCG make US $159,000 - $262,000 a year, slightly higher than Bain and McKinsey. However, from the manager level up, BCG consistently ranks at the bottom of the three.
Nonetheless, BCG is able to provide some insanely good business travel benefits that can make work and life a bit easier. First class flight tickets are almost guaranteed, as long as there are available tickets. Any means of alternative travel within the case will also be covered (taxi, fares, train tickets, etc.).
BCG also allows reimbursement of business spending from a personal credit card without the need for a corporate account.
Depending on your client's site, the daily allowance can reach $500 or even more. If you are traveling to a top-tier city like New York or London, these are definitely reasonable numbers. But sometimes, your client is located in a coal mine far away from modern amenities, where even the best room cannot go above $100 a night. You will be surprised at how much budget your case allows (and what money can not buy).
Good exit options
Read more: Consultants Exit Options
A consulting career opens many doors to the biggest companies and institutions in the world. It’s not uncommon to see a Fortune 500 company stuffed with ex-BCG consultants or a government project with prominent BCG alumni at its helm. BCG alumni can usually find a well-paid strategic and management role in:
Finance and banking
Non-profit organizations and NGOs
Public sector projects
The network and relationships consultants build with their past clients play a significant role in this. The deep knowledge of the client’s target industry, coupled with the prestige of BCG, makes you desirable in the eyes of prospective employers.
And among the MBBs, BCG is very competitive for the biggest clients, like Fortune 500 companies or major government projects. Just spending a few years at BCG can get you into contact with many high-profile clients. It is then up to you to leave a lasting impression on them.
Great support for the alumni network
BCG has a comprehensive support network for all its alumni. As with all major consulting firms, people are at the core of their business. Maintaining an extensive network between past and current employees is a significant added value for their consultants.
BCG keeps a comprehensive list of all alumni, along with their contacts, for current BCG-ers to connect with. They can also access the alumni portal to connect with current BCG-ers.
Another integral part of networking for alumni are the events. BCG has the Worldwide Alumni Day, where ex-BCGs from all offices can meet and socialize with each other.
A well laid-out and fully-supported career path
Consulting at BCG also adopts the up-or-out mentality, just like the two other MBB firms. You will have to move up a ladder after a given time, or will be “advised to leave”. Yes, this is brutal and creates a cut-throat environment. However, with the right help and guidance, you’ll find your self quickly rising through the ranks and approaching your career goals.
At BCG, there’s actionable feedback all year round on your performance to give you an overview of what can be improved. And whenever help is needed, you can always access their resource portal for knowledge or join the many Learning and Development programs there.
The career ladder at BCG is well optimized for growth and promotion. And thanks to a short review cycle (usually around six months), you can quickly move from Consultant to Manager then to Partner roles in no time. This starts at the lowest Associate levels, usually for undergrads without an MBA. Candidates with an MBA can generally be recruited straight for the Consultant roles.
Both roles, however, will begin with general consulting work at first. You’ll start with cases from many different areas, then go into more specialized fields as your seniority grows. This is your chance to gain a wide spectrum of experience and build up diverse skills.
Associates or consultants without an MBA (which is usually 90% of them) who are in good standing with the firm can apply for BCG’s MBA sponsorships. With this, they can take a leave of absence to pursue an MBA, then return to BCG with a higher role.
BCG also provides a 25% tuition reimbursement for consultants pursuing an extra degree that is pertinent to their work. This allows you to grow in your specialized fields of interest.
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As the top three firms in the consulting world, the work and culture across McKinsey, BCG, and Bain are fairly similar. Still, there are certain aspects where the difference is obvious. Below are the three areas that make BCG different from McKinsey and Bain.
Company size and reach
For many years, BCG has been considered the second biggest name in consulting, standing above Bain and just below McKinsey. BCG has over 100 offices across 50 countries, with 25,000 employees and a total revenue in 2021 of US $11 billions.
Number of offices
Number of countries
Number of employees
Comparing MBB firms by size, 2022
Globally, BCG's strongest markets are in developed countries and regions like North America and Europe. They have also started to establish their presence in developing regions like Africa and Southeast Asia, though their efforts still lag behind McKinsey. In general, while BCG has no clear dominance in any specific market, they have always been able to stand neck-to-neck with McKinsey.
Work environment and culture
The hierarchy at BCG is considered a flat structure. It is not as top heavy as McKinsey, where the presence and decisions of senior consultants are weighted more heavily. But, it's not as flat as Bain, with more involvement from lower-level consultants.
At BCG, everyone in the case can have a say and pitch ideas to the team, and the juniors are especially encouraged to do so. But in the end, the senior consultant will have a complete say in the deliverable outcome presented to clients.
Culture-wise, BCG does not have to keep the same strict standards on image as McKinsey. Even though BCG consultants must have the absolute image of professionalism, it's not as extreme as 'the McKinsey way'.
The culture and people at BCG are somewhat "nerdy", with the environment being quite academic. Any book-worm or academic enthusiast of any kind will feel like they belong there. While after-hours won’t be quite as fun as Bain's, their 'work hard, play hard' ideology can hardly be matched by any.
BCG's list of focus industries is roughly the same as McKinsey and Bain. All three of these companies have a huge influence on many fields in the modern economy.
For McKinsey, they are the dominant player in Education, Government and Digital technology, and Bain's Private equity work is at the top of the industry. For BCG, they have established a presence in Digital ventures (with BCG Digital Venture), and for other focus areas, BCG is a really strong competitor against McKinsey.
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