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The best management consulting firms in the world (and in India) have more or less remained the same for several years.
In this post, Management consultant Amit (aka MBA Dropout) lists down the top 10 strategy consulting firms. You’ll also learn a little more about some businesses that your employer would (hopefully) never take on as a client.
In this post, 10 consulting firms that are perceived to be the best in the strategy consulting business have been considered. The fine print: In this post, firms are listed in alphabetical order – this is not a ranking.
Hiring: Bain hires a good number of undergrads, as well as advanced degree holders (MBAs and other masters degree holders, and PhDs) from top US schools. Summary: Spun off from its parent company, Booz Allen Hamilton, in 2008, it retains its place as one of the elite consulting firms in the world. Summary: Gallup is a specialized Management Consulting firm that, in a broad sense, conducts rigorous research on human nature, behavior, preferences and needs, to help organizations improve and grow organically. Summary: Gartner is a boutique strategy firm that primarily focuses on high tech research (primary and secondary).
Summary: McKinsey is considered to be the most prestigious and the top Management Consulting firm in the world.
Hiring: McKinsey hires large numbers of MBAs from most of the top business schools in US and Europe. Summary: The firm was established in 1983 by 7 HBS-connected individuals, one of them being Michael Porter, a professor at HBS and one of the greatest management thinkers of our time.
Hiring: Like the other heavyweights in its league, Monitor hires from top US bschools, though its interview process is quite different from the rest. Summary: The Boston Consulting Group belongs in the same league of management consulting firms as McKinsey and Bain. Summary: Parthenon is one of the most prestigious (and better known) boutique consulting firms.
Its very shocking that such a good information has not been followed by a single comment and also mere 480 likes!! I am a naval officer with about 17 yrs of work ex in mechanical engineering ( work areas related to marine engineering system operation, maintenance, training of personnel in engineering equipment and systems and the last 7 years has been in design of systems and overseeing construction of underwater platforms at a shipyard).
I am determined to get into the top 5 management consulting firms and I am all willing to make a 3 – 5 yr plan to achieve my goal. Consider two MBA applicants – one who has spent 3 out of 5 years abroad doing only software testing in a niche domain. The final placement are here and I currently have shortlists from the top consulting firms coming to campus (Bain, BCG, ATK etc.) alongside SMC.
Any pointers on potential career growth, work-like balance, learning opportunities shall be really helpful. It seems ages since I left Siemens, so whatever I’m saying is purely perception based and might have changed.
Are there any forums or associations or organizations that we can approach to get such clients? Except IIM if pursuing MBA degree from any college have same value as from next best colleges?
He strongly feels he joined MBA to get into top consulting firms but now with year back (due to medical issue) he is sure he wont get through these companies ever. Also, while most are obsessed with the idea of getting into MckInsey, Bain, BCG, there are plenty of fantastic opportunities outside that list that’ll also similar growth potential if not better.
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SB events are designed to inspire, engage and equip business professionals to fully leverage environmental and social innovation to drive business and brand value. SB newsletters will help you create and maintain your company's competitive edge by adopting smarter, more sustainable business strategies and practices. Access reports, white papers, audio packs, and more - valuable learning tools whether you're new to sustainability or leading the charge. 100's of videos, research papers and more in one place for those new to sustainability or leading the change. Looking for an integrated marketing and communications platform that targets a unique audience of dedicated sustainability and brand professionals. Social media – the LinkedIn discussion thread, the Facebook fan page, the Twitter tweet and other online ways of interacting with the world – has transformed how individuals connect with one another, how organizations and celebrities build their brands, and how societal movements gain momentum.  Many businesses, from supermarket chains to Hollywood studios, are using social media to connect with customers.
For the third year in a row, our organizations – Bloom Group LLC, the Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF) and ResearchNow -- have studied how potential clients use social media to find consulting services and how consulting companies use social media to market themselves. Our latest study shows that the consulting world has now embraced social media as a way to market its expertise, build rapport with existing clients and draw new ones into the fold. 2. Consulting companies therefore don’t consider social media in their top tier of effective marketing techniques. 3. That said, social media is consuming an increasing portion of the consulting marketing budget. 4. Even if consulting companies are not proactively doing much in the social media space, they should watch out for negative comments in social media which can do serious damage to a firm's chances to win contracts.
The roots of this study go back to the spring of 2010, when Bloom Group, Bliss PR and AMCF began tracking and analyzing how social media figured in the marketing mix for consulting companies and potential clients.
In 2011, after our 2010 report had drawn more than 12,000 views over 12 months, we wanted to know whether social media had continued to increase its share of the marketing toolbox at consulting companies. ResearchNow surveyed 200 buyers and influencers of the consulting purchase decision last year.
Are potential clients relying any more heavily on social media to screen out consulting companies?
What will help reassure a potential client once a consulting firm has been criticized online?
How potent has social media become in the marketing mix for consulting companies, and how big an investment will they make in this area in the future?
How much are consultants’ online publications encouraging interaction and discussions with viewers, a hallmark of social media sites? Which kinds of social media practices are driving interest and leads for consulting companies? To gauge how companies use social media to evaluate consulting companies, ResearchNow surveyed nearly 200 companies in April 2012.  Respondents included a mix of large, mid-sized and small companies, ranging in size from $50 million to more than $10 billion in annual revenue. Social media is still not as important when searching for consulting firms as other methods they use.
Exhibit 1: Social media still trails one-on-one recommendations and thought leadership channels. Clients told us that a negative comment on social media can eliminate a consulting firm from consideration, especially if they have never worked with the firm or if the comments disparaged the consulting firm’s work. Companies tended to be more forgiving about negative comments if they already had a good working relationship with a consultant. Respondents were asked which types of comments about consultants were most likely to change their opinions. Exhibit 2: Comments about ability to deliver and client management are taken most seriously. We looked at when potential clients eliminated a consultant from the running after reading a negative comment on social media sites.
Exhibit 3: Personal contact is still the best way to combat negative comments on social media sites. This year 92 companies filled out an online survey in March and April 2012 that had 24 detailed questions about their current and expected use of social media in marketing.

Their budgets for thought leadership marketing varied, with 60% spending less than $250,000 annually and nearly 20% spending more than $1 million. While they are not yet embracing its full potential, consultants in our survey did say they are devoting more of their marketing budgets to social media. Social media now commands a substantial part of the thought leadership marketing budget and is expected to grow even more. We asked consultants: “Out of your total budget for thought leadership marketing, how much do you spend on offline, traditional online and social media?" Our respondents this year are devoting 22% of that budget to social media, compared with 37% for traditional online marketing and 43% for offline marketing.
Exhibit 4:  Social media is expected to consume nearly a third of the thought leadership marketing budget by 2014, up from just 2 percent in 2005.
By 2014, our respondents estimate nearly a third of their marketing budgets (31%) will go for social media.
While consultants are prepared to earmark more money for social media marketing, they are not yet convinced of its effectiveness. Exhibit 5: Of a list of 28 marketing techniques, social media tools did not crack the list of the 10 most effective. Exhibit 6: We asked consultants which of these marketing techniques they used, and social media options were utilized least frequently. While 85% said they promoted their firm’s content on their own social networking sites and 59 %  wrote guest blogs, less than half used other social media techniques. Marketing and PR functions have more latitude to promote the firm through social media than do consultants.
Respondents were asked, “Who is allowed to post content in social media to promote your firm?” Their answers indicated that consultants were kept on a fairly tight leash. Exhibit 7: We asked consultants who was permitted to utilize social media to market their firm. Companies promote less than half their online thought leadership content through social media, and they are leaving many valuable tools untouched. Consultants have been slow to realize the potential of social media to promote their content. Furthermore, many consultants are not adding useful social media features to their online publications, passing up the chance to engage more fully with viewers.
Exhibit 8:  Many of social media's most potent tools have been untouched by consulting firms. Most firms are measuring only top-line indicators of how much viewers like their content, and using the results mainly for marketing programs. Exhibit 9: When it comes to assessing how well they are engaging viewers through social media, most consultants are content to look at just the numbers.
We also asked respondents to assign a value of 1 to 4 to each metric, with 4 being the most importance. Social media, and the features it inspires for the organization’s traditional web site, can provide a powerful boost to a company’s thought leadership marketing if barriers can be overcome.
Based on our research, we believe that consulting companies will discover that their online publications are a key place to socialize with prospects, especially if they incorporate social media features into those sites.
We asked the consultants who took our survey about the key barriers to generating more awareness and leads through social media.
From the answers to our open-ended and close-ended questions, there is no doubt that a growing number of consulting firms are drawing themselves closer to prospects and clients through social media. Yet in the next phase of consulting marketing, we see consulting firms learning from the popularity of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – that their clients want to converse online about their issues with the experts they respect. I've been working with Bob and am watching the blend of all marketing methods work for me as a consultant.
More information about text formatsPlain textNo HTML tags allowed.Lines and paragraphs break automatically. Subscribe to our newsletter, Thoughts on Thought Leadership, and you’ll get exclusive insights on new approaches to developing content, thought leadership marketing, case studies of B2B firms doing interesting things, and Q&As with leading marketers, researchers and publishers.
Though it won’t get you into your dream consulting firm, it could give you an interesting and entertaining insight into the world of consulting. For each firm, a short summary is followed by other details that could prove to be useful to readers that might be looking to get into this line of work. All of this information is gleaned from a number of sources – websites, periodicals, feedback received from consultants themselves, and from my own experiences. In addition to being one of the top consulting firms, it is the top choice where MBAs want to work after graduation.
This is mostly achieved through various types of surveys and polls followed by rigorous analyses. It serves a large number of Fortune 1000 firms, governments, public and private institutions, and non-profits. In India, they hire MBAs from the IIMs (A, B and C), ISB, and recently a small number from the IITs as well. The process starts with a written case followed by an interview, a group discussion, a role-play and then a final interview. The only way one can apply is by first filling in an application on its portal (even for campuses that they visit). It is highly selective in terms of the type of work that it does (mostly Strategy Consulting), its clientele, and hiring.
If i want to make a career in consulting; what steps i should take assuming i already have an mba degree from a tier 2 institute with 1yr of product planning and corporate sales experience ?
Though most of the top consulting firms recruit in bulk from the tier-1 bschools, the selection also trickles down to other schools. I also understand that the first major hurdle is to get into boutique consulting firms and the second is to get into one of the B-schools I aspire to get into. Will working for boutique consulting firms (brands that are not very famous) be a value add while applying for the top B-schools?
How important is ‘international experience’ important to get into top B-Schools in Europe? But be aware that the top schools get tons of applications from the top tier consulting firms as well. The other applicant has spent 5 years working only in India, but his assignments involved advising the senior management of the Top companies in India on complex and strategic issues. If you do have an interview lined up, we could help with our management consulting training services.
But the discussion forums have a lot of content on how these firms work, mostly from a recruitment angle. Given that you have worked with Siemens could you give me some perspective on how SMC weighs up against the big 4? The person (German) who set up and led the India team in the earlier years was from INSEAD. I would like to know how some of the other consulting firms that recruit from campuses in India fare against these. Consultants at MANCER have an in depth knowledge of the consultancy world and has always exceeded expectations on each task shared with them.
When searching for consulting services, buyers and users of consulting services continue to value colleagues’ recommendations, presentations, and other traditional marketing more than social media.
Firm-hosted seminars, conference presentations, books and more traditional online marketing such as articles published on the firm’s website are considered more effective.
Consulting company respondents said they are devoting a bigger chunk of their thought leadership marketing dollars to social media, and expect to devote nearly a third of that budget to social media by 2014. Many buyers of consulting services (33% of the respondents to our survey) would eliminate a consulting firm disparaged on social media in the earliest phase of their search, before they send out a request for proposal.
But we also wanted to hear from “the voice of the customer” – the senior executives and their staff members involved in finding and hiring consultants. It found that clients still placed more weight on traditional marketing tools when choosing a consultant. How early in the process do they eliminate a firm that has received negative comments on a social media site such as LinkedIn? Who in a consulting firm gets to post to a social media site, and how cumbersome is the process of getting something online? They give consulting firms an outside-in view of how potential clients use social media to screen out prospects for consulting projects. They represented many kinds of industries, with heaviest concentrations in financial services, healthcare and retail. Consultants’ blogs, and websites with employee opinions on consulting companies ranked slightly better. Only 25% regarded their marketing programs as strong, and more than half said their marketing generated 20 or fewer leads per month. When we asked them to rate various consulting marketing techniques, social media did not crack the top 10. A majority did not run gated online communities, post content on presentation sites, comment in other online publications’ discussion areas, post event photos on Flickr or comment on threaded discussion sites such as Quora.
About 46% said they’ve had internal webinars or seminars; about 15% have invited third-party experts to train their employees.
The results: marketing (and its PR agency) have much more latitude to promote the firm through social media than do consultants.

About 70% said they counted the number of views; nearly 60% relied on web analytics such as Google Analytics.
Close to 30% said they did nothing; nearly half used it to fine-tune their marketing programs.
But to do so, they must shift the tone of their online content from a “closed monologue,” in which the consulting firm does all the talking, to an “open dialogue,” which allows for viewers to add their comments and perspectives on the content. However, what was also clear is that social media cannot be looked open as a separate marketing stream. As a result, we think the next phase of consulting firm marketing will be to bring the principles of social media – engaging in online discussion to explore an issue in an open way – to the places on their website that feature their thought leadership content. Since a multitude of factors are considered, from one year to the next, a firm’s ranking might change quite considerably. Apart from the websites of these firms, also check out some of the best consulting books available in the market to get insights about how to get into these firms. A lot of this information changes all the time (for example, consulting firm X hiring from bschool Y this year does not guarantee them doing the same next year) – please keep this thought in mind when reading this post.
A number of missteps by its top management caused it to file for bankruptcy in 2002, from which it emerged successful and strong. The company lays a lot of stress on solid data analysis, and therefore prefers quant-savvy people. Among its many practices, Booz is widely known for its expertise in Organizational Consulting. Additionally, it also conducts training programs and publishes a lot of its research in the form of papers, books, etc.
Such is its reputation and clout that it is quite common for large clients (multi-national organizations) to employ it alongside boutique consulting firms specializing in the area(s) that such a client might be facing issues with, to oversee and validate the work of the latter. A large number of McKinsey alums finally go on to hold very senior positions in Fortune 500 companies; apart from the name, clout, etc. Parthenon is also known for its work in Financial Consulting – it advises clients on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, etc. Plus there are many more firms (boutique or otherwise) that may have relationships with the regional bschools.
I was told that the brand value of the company one works for is very important to get into top B-schools. I ask this question because these two are the biggest Technology Research and Analysis firms and this is how they are known as worldwide. Your work profile within these companies and the exposure you get in the long run are far more important than labels assigned by outsiders. Excellent exit opportunities to move into operational roles within one of the Siemens businesses.
I wanted some inputs from you as I wanted to do an internship for 2 months in a Business Conlting Company.
MANCERa€™s understanding of the market and creativity to tap the best talent available is awesome. This complements the company's assessment process, validating the untold or unheard views about the candidate. Bureau Veritas reached 22%, the highest brand preference for a supplier outside of the Big Four.“The Big Four’s global scale and their willingness to make strategic investments have enabled them to out-muscle management consultancies in multiple markets,” commented David Metcalfe, Verdantix CEO. Less than half surveyed run gated online communities, engage in online discussion threads or post content on presentation sites such as SlideShare. However, most say they can change their mind if a trusted colleague reassures them about the consulting firm. However, the traditional marketing tools such as seminars, print publications, books and company web sites dominated. That’s when we brought ResearchNow, a firm that runs research panel-based surveys, into the fold. However, criticism about a consulting firm on a social media site nonetheless could “poison the well.” In our survey of consulting companies, they told us they still relied heavily on traditional techniques to develop their content and took a dim view of social media’s usefulness in this area.
Then we present our findings from our survey of consultants themselves – how they view social media, their sense of the role it will play in the future, their willingness to embrace it as a marketing tool and how it has influenced their traditional websites. All were large enough to invest significantly in consulting services, and every respondent had some role in purchasing consulting services. While all scores varied slightly from 2011’s report, the relative rankings remained the same.
They included CEOs, chief marketing officers, other marketing executives, and heads of business development, thought leadership and practice or service lines.
But 44% said they provide no training at all, and only 36% said they have explicit, codified guidelines for using social media. While nearly three-quarters allow viewers to click and email an article, only 45% provide buttons to recommend or “like” a story and only 30% poll their viewers on the topics of their articles. Far fewer – about 25% – looked at the number of viewer comments and how much time individual viewers spent on an article. These discussion threads are commonplace on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, but not yet on consulting company’s sites.
Clients continue to like traditional consulting companies’ traditional marketing tools such as conferences, seminars and even books.
In other words, the next challenge for consulting marketers is to make their online publications places for fertile discussions of clients’ issues.
Though firms keep shuffling around (in terms of rankings), the list of top firms in the business has remained quite the same for a while now.
Kearney has made a name for itself as being the advisor of choice for CXOs and top management.
As one of the top consulting firms in the world, it is unique in the sense that it has a strong focus towards technology. They have a unique training program where senior employees (managers, partners, etc.) impart trainings to new hires, thereby ensuring that learning is experiential and “practical”. Senior McKinsey consultants often work directly with senior management (CXO-level officials), assisting them in solving problems that they might be facing in their businesses. In addition its primary service offering (Management Consulting), it has also made a name for itself in Human Resource Consulting. Year after year, BCG employees have ranked it as being one of the best companies to work for.
However, my interest lies in Management Consulting and I believe that I would truly enjoy the work. Even in the first year at IIM, he won lot of national level quizzes and big awards for innovative start up and strategic competitions. Social media is frequently relegated to the consultant’s marketing or public relations team.
Consulting companies need to monitor what's being said about them online and on a variety of social media platforms and take considered action when a disgruntled emplyee or client says something for public consumption. Still, consultants said they expected to increase the percentage of their marketing dollars spent on social media. While some were the sole decision-makers, 30% did the initial screenings for others who made the decisions. Four other effective tools from the traditional online realm: search engine optimization, email newsletters, online publications and videos. And they still like articles – both print and online – to be able to discern whether a consulting firm truly has the deep expertise that its brand marketing claims. All I see are recommendations and content related to thougth leadership, which have a higher tier of importance. Quality of life, work hours, training and overall culture are reported to be several notches above other comparable firms. Actually I am evaluating offers from both of them after my MBA so was keen to know your inputs on this. I recommend their work to all the companies who are facing difficulties in sourcing the right talent.
In the software category, Microsoft leads global brand preference with heads of sustainability, as a provider of software for sustainability management with a score of 39%. For the most part they are content to count the number of views, comments and “shares,” but far less likely to analyze the comments and respond to them. The company is also well known for its research work, and regularly publishes papers and reports. Though majority of the companies have an application portal in their website, do they really recruit people based on online applications ?
Specialist software firms CarbonSystems and Credit360 both achieved the highest brand preference score of 16%.Among the not-for-profits, CDP and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) top the brand preference list among 250 heads of sustainability, scoring 57% and 61% respectively.

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