Why Do Management Consultants Change Consulting Firms?

We’re management consulting recruiters.  We recruit experienced management consultants from their current firms to consulting and corporate roles with our clients.  Prospective clients and candidates often ask us why experienced management consultants are willing to change consulting firms.

As you’d expect, there are several reasons, usually falling into a few categories.  We’ll call the categories focus, future opportunity, peers, and lifestyle.  We’ll discuss focus here and the others in future posts.  By focus, we mean the specific industries and expertise the hiring firm or practice targets versus the candidate’s current employer and role.

At many large and mid-size firms, consultants are staffed on engagements based on general skill sets and availability.  They work with clients in multiple industries and in multiple functions and areas of expertise.  Consultants often tell us that they enjoy this varied experience early in their career.  However, by the time they’re managing engagements, they often want to develop deeper expertise in specific industries and/or functions.  We find that even at the Associate Partner/Senior Manager-level, many consultants at large firms can’t consistently have the focus they’d like.  Many of these individuals enjoy management consulting and would consider it as a career, but they believe they must move to industry roles to achieve the focus they desire.

We’ve found that the number one reason potential candidates are interested in roles with other consulting firms is because of their desire to focus on an industry and/or a specific type of work.  For example, they may want to perform growth strategy engagements for consumer products companies, or work with healthcare organizations on their operational issues, or work only on IT strategy engagements.  At many firms this narrow focus is difficult to maintain.  A small firm or a practice within a larger firm that has the desired focus can attract talented consultants.

Many of our clients are relatively small consulting firms, firms with less than 100 employees.  Teaming with them, we’ve found that a small firm focused on a specific industry and/or functional skill set is well positioned to recruit senior consultants who want to focus on the same expertise.  Recruiting from larger firms provides them with a pool of qualified potential candidates.

The same opportunity exists for a practice within a large firm.  We’ve worked with many of the largest firms and the reason most experienced consultants join them from competitors is the same – the firm has a practice with a specific focus that they can’t achieve at their present firm.

When focus isn’t the reason a consultant is willing to consider changing firms, then the reason is usually future opportunity.  We’ll discuss that in a future post.


Recent Articles

Building a Relationship with a Recruiter
Leaving Management Consulting for a Corporate Role
Why Do Management Consultants Change Consulting Firms? (Part 2)
Recruiting Management Consultants to Your Corporate Team
Interviewing With Another Management Consulting Firm


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