What is the Highest Level of Consultancy?

Learn about career progression in consultancy from an expert's perspective - from analyst to partner - including tips on how to progress faster.

What is the Highest Level of Consultancy?

Joining a consulting firm as an analyst is the typical starting point after graduating from college.


, partners, and directors are at the top of the hierarchy of consultant titles, and they are responsible for determining the specific direction the company is taking and the overall consulting strategies it employs. These high-level officials are also involved in business development and customer relations. Consulting has a reputation for being a good industry in which to build a career.

Many consultants will remain in consulting throughout their careers, while others will use it as a springboard to other industries or sectors. The pyramid narrows as it increases upward, and that's because the number of employees in each layer decreases. It doesn't make sense from a business point of view to have as many partners as associates for several reasons, but the main reason is that the partners receive the most salaries and, therefore, the wage bill would be unsustainable. The pyramid also reflects the team structure typical of everyday work.

The consulting work is based on projects and the project team follows the same organizational pyramid as the organization in general, that is, a higher proportion of junior resources compared to higher-level resources. As shown above, while there are 6 layers to the consulting organizational model, each company uses a combination of different job titles. This can be confusing for clients who work with consultants and for aspiring consultants trying to understand the level at which they could enter the company. What is common in all companies is the typical holding time.

For graduates, they can expect to move up to the next degree within 2 years and another promotion 2 years later. Exceptional consultants can be promoted faster, usually with the sponsorship of a partner to do so and if there are business reasons to do so (e.g., there is a vacant position to fill in a particular industry (at the top level). Once consultants have spent 4 years with a company, they will reach the point of “going up or going”. This is where good consultants will be promoted to management positions and those who do not reach the performance level will be asked to pass or will be notified that they are unlikely to move on to the next grade (at which point the employee is likely to leave voluntarily).

Career progression in the consulting pyramid is known to be ruthless (and political), especially at major strategic consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. The best are rewarded, while those who struggle to keep up the pace will have a hard time progressing. This approach increases the reputation of senior consultants, since it is considered difficult to reach the highest levels of the pyramid. Once qualifications of manager and director are achieved, the definition of good performance also changes, and promotions are increasingly based on business results (amount of business won).

This means that it may be easier to make progress in industries that are growing or that are undergoing significant changes. For the first four years of consulting, you are responsible for delivering content and analysis. This is considered “heavy lifting” and tasks require too much time for expensive resources that can be carried out. The first part of most projects involves data collection, whether in the form of customer interviews, Internet searches, or analysis of customer data.

For large consulting firms, there is no limit to types of projects that junior resources can work on; however, in boutique firms that are already specialized, you may specialize by default. As a general rule, greater specialization and knowledge of industry is expected more senior consultant is, so young people will need specialize as they approach promotion. As young people develop data and project analysis, they usually work full time on just one project at a time since average duration of projects for strategy consultants is c. At manager level, consultants are expected have good level industry knowledge and exemplary consulting skills manage both relationship with client and members junior team.

While subaltern resources have carry out extensive analysis or research, they will be responsible for overall production. This often means providing guidance young team members where they can find right information how carry out necessary analysis. It will also mean reviewing iterating work junior team members. Good managers will work with their junior team members improve their work order improve them improve their technical skills.

As consultant gains more experience, they will have more interactions with customer. Maintaining good relationship with client essential skill consultants since client often has information necessary carry out necessary analysis order reach meaningful conclusions. On daily basis project manager person interacts with customer works him project so managers some companies called engagement managers since ones interact with customer. Another responsibility senior team members provide industry consulting experience advice project team.

They will have knowledge needed complete analysis research younger members team do not have cannot find using other research methods. This vision experience extremely valuable customer what they expect from consulting firm. Ultimate responsibility partners directors quality assurance. They will sign deliveries analyses before sending them customer.

This sense check will ensure content point view line with customer's expectations presented solid point view valuable customer. At partner level ultimate responsibility ensure quality delivery projects well maintaining relationships customers ensuring customer satisfaction highest possible level.

Nadine Chris
Nadine Chris

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