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What are the exit opportunities from a management consulting career?

There are many factors that attract ambitious and driven individuals to the field of management consulting. One of them is the excellent career prospects that it offers. A few years of consulting in a top-tier firm can provide a springboard to many exciting roles within other industries, often at a very senior level. This is one of the reasons why many people choose to leave consulting after two to four years.

To identify which industries have the most demand for former consultants, we analyzed the LinkedIn profiles of 10,000 former consultants who recently left roles at McKinsey, BCG and Bain (MBB) to pursue careers in different areas. In this article, we present the findings of our research and explain why the alumni of top-tier consulting firms often land senior roles in top executive teams.

Key takeaways:

  • Former consultants can move into almost any industry because of their broad and diverse skill sets and their experience of solving complex problems for some of the world’s biggest organizations.
  • The tech industry is the top employer of former management consultants; Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Meta are the companies that employ the highest number of MBB alumni.
  • Other common career paths for former consultants include strategy roles outside of the tech industry, roles in investment management, entrepreneurship, and roles in non-commercial environments, including non-profit organizations.
  • Because of their skills and connections, and the credibility of having a top consulting firm on their resume, former consultants tend to enter their new industries at a senior level, often as part of an organization’s top executive team.
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What career paths are available to those who exit consulting?

Consultants at top management consulting firms gain a vast amount of experience by working across a wide range of sectors and functions, solving some of the most pressing problems for the world’s biggest organizations. As a result, they leave the world of consulting with an abundance of highly desirable transferable skills.

By definition, former management consultants are able to work in almost any function or industry. However, some clear themes emerged in our analysis of the destinations of recent MBB alumni.

The tech industry

Our research shows that tech giants Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Meta employ the highest number of former MBB consultants. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the compelling value proposition that these companies are known for presenting. In the tech industry, a great working environment, a sustainable work-life balance and an attractive compensation package can all usually be expected.

While some former consultants begin their careers in tech by going into product management or partnerships and sales, the vast majority enter the field of strategy and operations. Given that strategic roles in tech have responsibilities that are similar to the work of a management consultant, this transition is fairly natural for former consultants.

Today, Google alone has more than 1,000 MBB alumni among its ranks and there are many notable examples of former consultants who have gone on to achieve great success in the tech world. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet Inc (Google’s parent company) and former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg are both McKinsey alumni. Meg Whitman, a former CEO of eBay and Hewlett Packard, was a consultant at Bain.

Strategy roles outside of tech

Most large corporations have an internal strategy team that works closely with the company’s CEO. In effect, these teams serve as in-house strategy consulting firms. Roles in these teams allow former consultants to do the work they love without the work-life balance demands of consulting.

After a few years in these in-house strategic teams, some former consultants use the experience to move into general management positions, which provide the opportunity to lead a function or business unit.

In-house strategy teams can be found in large organizations in every industry. However, our research indicated that organizations in the fields of financial services, media and retail employ the highest number of former consultants outside of tech.

Investment management

Many former consultants choose to pursue careers in investment management, with private equity – and the astronomical compensation it offers – at the top of the list. However, joining a private equity fund’s investment team as an Associate or a Vice-President typically requires financial modeling experience, which is not part of a management consultant’s toolkit.

Many former management consultants choose to address this by taking an investment banking role, sometimes after completing an MBA. The large investment banks Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley were among the top-10 destinations of the former consultants in our research.

Another popular option is to join a private equity fund’s portfolio management team, where former consultants act as internal consultants with a focus on improving the performance of the fund’s portfolio companies.

Small or early-stage venture capital funds are another common investment management destination for former consultants. Roles in these funds fit well with a generalist management consultant’s toolkit and do not require financial modeling skills.


After a few years of experience at a top-tier firm, consultants are equipped with a comprehensive and rounded set of commercial skills. This means that many former consultants are well prepared for the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Dozens of current and former unicorns – privately-held startup companies valued at more than $1 billion – were founded by former management consultants. Research conducted by the venture capital firm Antler reveals that in the ‘DACH’ (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) region, 25% of unicorn founders have management consulting experience.

Well-known companies founded by former management consultants include Airbnb, Kayak, DoorDash, Capital One and Genpact.

Non-commercial roles

There are a number of non-commercial career paths that former consultants choose to pursue, including academia, the civil service, teaching and roles in non-profit organizations. Among the top employers of MBB alumni are The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – one of the biggest non-profits in the world – and leading non-profit consulting organization The Bridgespan Group, which was founded by former Bain executives.

There is even a management consulting presence in the world of politics: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney and current US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg are all former management consultants. Currently, more than a dozen MBB alumni are employed by The White House.

Why do consultants land roles in top executive teams?

In addition to having access to a variety of appealing career paths upon leaving consulting, former consultants tend to start their new careers at a more senior level than their peers who come from other industries. Here are some of the reasons why former consultants are in an excellent position to land top executive roles.

Former consultants have a highly differentiated range of skills

Former management consultants have all proven themselves to be smart, driven, experienced in dealing with complexity and able to solve challenging problems while communicating clearly. Candidates who have developed a track record of using these skills successfully in a challenging environment are often exactly the type of people who CEOs look for when hiring their top talent.

Top consulting firms lend additional credibility to a candidate’s background

CEOs who see McKinsey, BCG or Bain on a resume will immediately understand that the candidate has made it through a famously rigorous selection process and earned the seal of approval of a prestigious firm. This gives former consultants of top firms an undeniable edge over other candidates of a similar caliber.

Former consultants have excellent connections

The networks that consultants develop can be incredibly fruitful, from the relationships that they build in the course of their client work to their connection to their firm’s alumni. McKinsey, BCG and Bain all have exclusive job boards that former consultants use to publicize job opportunities, often with great success. In fact, the majority of consultants who leave McKinsey find their next job through the firm’s job board.

If a career in management consulting sounds like it might be right for you, you can learn more in our complete guide to the management consulting industry. And if you’re preparing to apply to a top consulting firm, the resume and cover letter templates and specialized advice in our Free Resume Course will help you get your application in great shape.

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