Management consultants provide strategic, unbiased and objective advisory services which assist organisations in improving productivity and overall performance.
Advisory expertise covers areas such as change management, financial performance, marketing, business restructuring, and human resources, with an emphasis on managing risks and costs.
Consultants work in project teams, each team consisting of five or six people: a partner, a team manager or senior consultant, one or two associates (MBA-qualified or experienced consultants) and analysts (trainee consultants, usually graduates or those with non-MBA postgraduate degrees).
A typical project will involve meeting with clients and researching and analysing data, after which you will present recommendations to the clients and set a schedule for implementing improvements.
Beyond individual projects, you will also participate in networking activities and develop new strategy tools and techniques in areas of specialist expertise.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries depend on initial qualifications, aptitude and experience. MBA holders are paid at a higher level than consultants with regular undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.
Average annual salaries in the first couple of years for graduates are around £27,000 and £30,000. Associate and principal consultants earn salaries upwards of £50,000.
Managing consultants receive salaries of between £75,000 and £120,000, while directors and partners earn between £120,000 and £150,000.
Consultants also earn performance-related bonuses, both for individual and consultancy-level achievements. Other perks include company shares, pensions, private medical cover, dental and optical insurance, on-site gyms and restaurant facilities and interest-free season ticket loans.
A consultant’s working week while on a client assignment consists of three or four days at the client’s premises, with the remaining days spent at the home office. Hours are mostly standard and travel is frequent, on both a national and international scale.
Large consulting firms offer high-performing graduate employees financial sponsorship towards attending top-tier business schools for an MBA after the first few years of employment.
Firms also facilitate flexible working arrangements and career sabbaticals, dependent on business requirements and employee potential.
Graduate entry is usually through training and development programmes. Entry requirements are usually demanding, though graduates from any discipline are eligible to apply.
Typical requirements include a 2:1 or above degree from a good university, a minimum of 300 UCAS points, a consistent record of outstanding academic and extra-curricular achievements, excellent quantitative and analytical reasoning, and high levels of initiative, confidence and commercial awareness.
Training & progression
Initial training schemes are detailed and intensive, covering professional and personal development and the tools and methods used in the organisation. Residential and off-site courses for new trainees are available across the consultancy, usually including a group project or presentation exercise made to senior management at the end of the programme.
Graduates undertake structured placements across multiple departments and project teams, receiving support and guidance from work supervisors, partners and senior consultants, as well as a previous graduate consultant ‘buddy’.
A majority of consulting businesses offer a clear career progression map, and strong performers can expect to reach director or partner levels within 10 years of joining.
The defined hierarchy reads: Analyst, Associate, Senior Associate, Consultant, Principal Consultant, Manager or Management Consultant, Director, and Partner.