A question that I get quite frequently goes something like this: “What are the hours like in top strategy consulting firms, e.g. MBB (McKinsey, BCG, Bain)?” I was not sure what to expect when I made the switch to an MBB from a banking job either.
If you're familiar with the hours in banking, you might think that MBB hours will be a walk in the park. - Right?
Well, there are upsides. Working hours in consulting have the benefit of: 1) protected weekends to recuperate, 2) very rare all-nighters (as long as you are not working on a due diligence with a mega-cap private equity fund) and 3) significantly more control over who you want to work with.
So yes, in consulting you’ll most likely work fewer hours than in investment banking. However, 70-80-hour-weeks spread over five days still translate into 14-16 hour days. Also, in consulting there is almost no downtime, which means you’ll rarely able to go for a 30min coffee break, make important phone calls or run to the drugstore to buy that deodorant that you need. Being constantly away from home means that you’ll have to cram almost all of your private “to dos” into your weekend.
This is what your average week as a management consultant looks like
Your primary goal as a management consultant is to do great work, but in the end it is all about making your clients happy. This means your schedule will be quite packed and unpredictable. You’ll need to always be available to last minute client requests.
While there’s no standard week I though I might give you a quick run-down of an “average-busy” week. (For an in-depth article on a work-week read on here.)
9pm: Pack your suitcase and pre-order a taxi for your drive to the airport for the next morning.
10pm: 7hrs to go until your alarm rings! Hopefully you didn’t party too hard on Saturday, because if you did then good luck falling asleep.
5:30am: Take the taxi to the airport and check and respond to emails.
6:15am: Go through security.
7am: Luck you! You have priority boarding. Find your seat on the plane and finalize some work on your laptop while the other passengers are boarding the plane.
8:30am: Touchdown: Turn on your work phone, store your laptop and the noise cancelling headphones.
9am: 30min taxi ride to the client site. If needed use the idle time to make some final edits to your latest PowerPoint deck that you’ll discuss with the client at 10:00am.
9:30am: Arrive at the client’s site and settle into your team room.
10am: Update session with your three key client contacts
11am: Time for a ‘check-in’ with your project lead. Discuss how to implement the client feedback and start executing immediately.
1pm: Since your meeting schedule allows it today, go get a quick 30min lunch break at the canteen.
2pm: Tick off important items off your to do list and refresh the team room flipchart.
3pm: Check and then integrate the new slides that you got back your back-office graphics team into your latest deck for the problem solving session with your Partner.
4–5pm: Take an executive up in his a meeting request. Run him through the project scope and timeline. Appreciate his input agree on a follow-up meeting.
5pm: Create 2 new slides summarizing the key meeting takeaways.
6pm: 20min taxi ride back to your firm’s local office. Order delivery for dinner since in order to finish some more tasks in the meantime.
7–11pm: Do a quick status update with your project lead on which analysis needs to be finished today. Continue executing.
11-12pm: Take a taxi to the hotel. On the way, try to call your girlfriend, friends and/or family for a quick chat.
While Monday to Thursday is usually quite intense, Friday tends to be a bit more relaxed. You can work from home if you want. Rarely will you be working after 8pm.
So in consulting you’re unlikely to do many all-nighter or work 90h+ hour weeks. Your work-life depends on the teams the projects you choose. If you are smart about this then you might be able to considerably improve your work-life balance. But keep your expectations in check a job at the MBB will never be a 50-hour-per week job.
MBBGamePlan.com is a blog and recruitment portal aimed at helping students and young professionals to land their dream job in Consulting.
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