The draws towards consulting as a career path are still the same. Working as a management consultant is not only prestigious, but also grants you a formidable combination of high salary, varied projects and excellent progression opportunities, and puts you at the top of the pecking order for any roles outside of consulting that you might later want to explore.
However, the growing importance of this last point serves as an indication as to the changing attitudes that people have to their careers. Graduates no longer go into consulting as a career for life, but rather as a good place to start. Whether or not they stay in consulting is no longer a given, and depends on how much they feel they are getting out of it.
On top of this, consultancies and investment banks are no longer necessarily the gold standard for talented graduates, with an increasing number choosing instead to go into startups or into industries with a social impact. Consultancies are seen by many as the stuffy, corporate choice, while startups or companies with “purpose” are seen as more exciting and more fulfilling.
With more industries than ever jostling for top talent, consultants have become more demanding. One of the most common complaints from consultants is that they are frustrated at their lack of work/life balance, and many consider the travel requirements of a traditional consulting model unsustainable. The type of work that they do is another area where consultants want flexibility. No longer happy to be told what to do, consultants want a tailored experience where they are not only able to work on projects that align closely to their interests, but also to the development path that they have set out for themselves. Many consultants want to feel their work has a positive social impact.
Management consultants no longer join consultancies with a view to stay for 10 years at a time. With increasing competition from both boutiques and other industries, top consultancies can no longer afford to rely on their prestige to retain talent.