igo2northwestern wrote:If what OP or anyone is interested in is being a career consultant, then none of this perceived prestige stuff really matters because the criteria is completely different from what I thought it would be (compensation is fine, and travel is to be expected).
But the purpose of consulting, in my opinion, really boils down to two things: high(er) compensation and exits. The compensation at the brand consulting firms is usually better from the beginning to any advancement stage (I don't know how your boutique was, but from what I've heard from people who've worked at boutiques, their salaries were usually lower OR slightly higher to justify the cut in prestige), and exits are unparalleled because of perceived prestige. For MBB vs. others, the difference in perceived prestige is significant. And between larger brands and smaller brands, it is also very significant. What supports this is the fact that the exits are vastly better at the name brand firms. This isn't to say that you can't get good exits out of boutiques, but a pay cut + perhaps more time spent is likely to be in the equation.
As for the actual work, operations is operations. But at brand firms, there are more opportunities to work for better clients. This is an important distinction, because while at MBB you do work in no-name-city every now and then, you really really don't want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere for 6 months. Further, at MBB, there are more opportunities, substance-wise, to work on more challenging strategy engagements.
I agree that Vault doesn't accurately paint a picture of the consulting profession, just as Vault doesn't paint a perfect picture of the legal profession (see Dovel & Luner), but it's a decent starting point for recruitment. Similar to Vault law rankings, except there are no Williams & Connolly/Munger/Irell-type firms that are hidden in the Vault consulting rankings. MBB is a distinct tier. And this is coming from someone who isn't really a prestige whore (after all, igo2northwestern..).
Yeah, this poster explained what I was trying to say in a much better fashion. While there may be smaller boutique consulting firms, they simply don't hit as hard as MBB and the 2nd tier. While obviously every associate at MBB isn't whispering into the ears of F100 CEOs on a regular basis, the quality of the work, the importance of the work, and the type of client is GENERALLY better than what you see at the no-names. And if you care about exits, the type of exit op you get from a place like McKinsey is just unparalleled. I have a family member that is an alum, and 20 years later he swears he gets clients and referrals just on the basis of working there.
Also, sure, if you work for a boutique that services one type of client then maybe you have an easy exit to that client, but similar to the law firm that services only one specific niche or client is that the basket you want to put all your eggs in? MBB opens literally any strategy position up in any type of industry you can demonstrate a fit for.