McKinsey, BCG, and Bain, collectively referred to as MBBs, are widely recognized as the top management consulting firms globally. Each has well-established operations in Switzerland.
In this article, we answer top-of-mind questions for potential candidates. Questions like:
- What kind of candidates are recruited by McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in Switzerland?
- Which undergrad schools give you the highest chances of getting into McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in Switzerland?
- Is an MBA a good route to management consulting in Switzerland?
- Is there an entry path to McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in Switzerland from other industries?
The insights in this article are based on a detailed analysis of about 200 individuals hired by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain for their client-facing consulting roles in Switzerland from 2020 to mid-2022.
- In Switzerland, McKinsey, BCG, and Bain mostly hire pre-experience students (68% of hires), experienced candidates (16%), and advanced degree candidates (11%). An MBA (5%) is not a meaningful route into MBBs in Switzerland.
- McKinsey and BCG had similar hiring volumes, while Bain lagged both by ~20%.
- McKinsey in Switzerland achieved gender parity in its recruitment. 55% of its hires were females vs 43% at BCG and 44% at Bain.
- 71% of pre-experience student hires come from only two schools: the University of St.Gallen and ETH Zürich. This means that almost half (~48%) of all hires into MBB Switzerland (across all channels) are pre-experience students from the University of St.Gallen and ETH Zürich!
- Unlike in other countries, only 28% of experienced hires come from other consulting firms, 13% come from finance, 13% from tech and the rest (47%) come from various industries.
The main sources of candidates for top consulting firms in Switzerland
48% of all top firms’ hires are pre-experienced students from ETH Zürich and St.Gallen
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in Switzerland recruit candidates from all the usual channels. Of all their hires, 68% were pre-experience students. The next largest channel was experienced professionals (16%). Given that the University of St.Gallen and ETH Zürich contributed 71% of this total, almost half (~48%) of all hires into MBB Switzerland (across all channels) are pre-experience students from the University of St.Gallen and ETH Zürich!
Unlike in the US, McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in Switzerland rarely hired MBAs, as they made up only 5% of total hiring. Interestingly, they hired more advanced degree candidates as a proportion of the total (11% of all hires) than in most other countries (including the US, UK, Canada, and France, etc.). This makes MBB’s hiring in Switzerland similar to that of Germany (9% advanced professional hires as a portion of total hires).
To better understand these categories, here are quick definitions:
- Pre-experience students (bachelor’s degree or a non-MBA master’s degree) are hired out of school or shortly after. They typically have no more than two years of experience and are hired into entry-level roles, i.e., Business Analysts at McKinsey, Associates at BCG, and Associate Consultants at Bain.
- MBA hires are graduates of a one- or two-year MBA program, usually at a European or US business school. They typically have work experience before their MBAs and are hired into post-MBA roles, i.e., Associates at McKinsey or Consultants at BCG and Bain.
- Experienced hires are from other employers and typically have two to eight years of experience. Those with less are hired at pre-MBA roles, i.e., Junior Associates at McKinsey, 2nd year Associate Consultants at Bain, and Senior Associates at BCG. Those with significant experience are hired into post-MBA roles, i.e., Associates at McKinsey or Consultants at BCG and Bain.
- Advanced degree hires are hired during or soon (not more than two years) after their Ph.D. or medical school programs. In Switzerland, they’re typically hired into senior pre-MBA roles, i.e., Junior Associates at McKinsey, 2nd year Associate Consultants at Bain, and Senior Associates at BCG.
BCG and McKinsey hire more consultants than Bain
Between Q1 2020 and Q2 2022, BCG and McKinsey hired similar numbers of consultants. Both firms hired about 20% more consultants than Bain. Besides volume, both McKinsey and BCG also shared similar hiring splits by channel. Bain, on the other hand, had different hiring splits by channel, particularly with pre-experience students, who made up 78% of Bain’s hiring, compared to 62-64% for BCG and McKinsey.
McKinsey in Switzerland hired more women than men
Overall recruitment patterns indicate relative gender parity, though they slightly favor male hiring, with women accounting for 47% of all hires by the three firms. The gender parity observed, however, is not evenly distributed across channels and firms.
55% of McKinsey hires in Switzerland were female, indicating clear gender parity in hiring. (The same can be seen in Canada). BCG and Bain each had 43-44% female hires. There was clear gender parity in hiring from the largest channels—pre-experience students and experienced professionals. MBA and advanced degree hires, however, were predominantly male.
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s pre-experience student hiring in Switzerland
Pre-experience students made up 68% of total hires by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in Switzerland from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022. This means that hires from a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree program (excluding MBAs) made up the largest recruitment channel into entry-level roles at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in Switzerland.
The next sub-heading will deep-dive into which universities MBB in Switzerland sourced their pre-experience student hires.
Where did Switzerland MBBs pre-experience students go to school?
Seventy-one percent of pre-experience student hires come from only two schools: the University of St.Gallen (42%) and ETH Zürich (29%). The only other schools with more than one MBB Switzerland hire are the University of Zurich (4%) and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) (4%).
While international students made up 20% of pre-experience student hires, only two schools contributed more than one hire into MBB Switzerland: HEC Paris and the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Eighteen other international schools featured, primarily from other European countries—Germany, France, Austria, etc.
What did they study?
About 54% of pre-experience student hires into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in Switzerland studied business administration, economics, and management, 17% studied engineering, and the remaining 29% studied various other courses. Unlike in the UK and the US, however, pre-experience student hires into MBB in Switzerland needed a Master’s degree to get in (93% of pre-experience student hires).
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s Experienced Professionals Hiring in Switzerland
Experienced hires, those who typically have two to eight years of professional experience, were the second largest recruitment channel for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in Switzerland from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022, making up 16% of all hires by these three firms. This is the lowest experienced hire share of the total we’ve seen in Europe.
Experienced hires joined top firms at different levels:
- 72% of experienced hires were recruited into post-MBA roles. These are primarily Associates at McKinsey and Consultants at BCG and Bain. Candidates with team leadership experience at other consulting firms sometimes join at a more senior level, but will typically experience a small step back compared to the seniority level at their initial firm.
- 28% of experienced hires were recruited into pre-MBA roles, i.e., Junior Associate at McKinsey, Associate and Senior Associate Consultants at Bain, and Senior Associates at BCG.
Which companies did Swiss MBB’s experienced hires come from?
Unlike in the UK, France, and Germany, where other consulting companies made up over 40-50% of experienced hiring, MBB Switzerland’s hires from other consulting firms amounted to only 28% of experienced hiring!
The remaining experienced hires came from a wide range of industries, including finance (13% of experienced hires) and tech (13%), among others. This implies that a candidate’s industry is not a limiting factor for recruitment to the MBBs as experienced hires.
Where did MBBs experienced hires in Switzerland go to school?
The two schools that made up 72% of pre-experienced student hiring in Switzerland make up only 44% of undergrad/graduate programs attended by experienced hires.
Three other notable schools that together contribute 21% of experienced hires are Bocconi (9%), the London School of Economics (6%), and HEC Paris (6%). The remaining 34% came from 11 schools, 9 international, and 2 local.
As with pre-experience students, though, MBB in Switzerland seemed to require a Master’s degree from experienced hires (84% of hires), and 3% of experienced hires even had a Ph.D., reiterating that graduate degrees are needed to break into any of the MBBs in Switzerland.
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s MBA hiring in Switzerland
As in France and Germany, MBBs in Switzerland are not big on MBAs. They made up only 5% of hires between Q1 2020 and Q2 2022.
As a reminder, MBA hires are graduates of a one- or two-year MBA program, usually at a European or US business school. They typically have had some work experience before their MBAs and are hired into post-MBA roles, i.e., Associates at McKinsey or Consultants at BCG and Bain.
One in two hires from an MBA program came from INSEAD, and 20% came from IMD. The only other three MBA hires featured are from Chicago Booth, Wharton, and HEC Paris.
Advanced Degree hiring in Switzerland
Internationally, advanced degree hiring constitutes the smallest proportion of hires for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. However, in Switzerland (and Germany), there were more advanced degree hires than MBA hires! Advanced degree hires made up 11% of total hiring from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022.
Advanced degree hires came from six universities. Fifty-two percent of advanced degree hires came from ETH Zurich. The other five universities represented include the University of St.Gallen, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), University of Zurich, University of Basel, and Princeton University.
As a reminder, advanced degree hires are hired during or soon (not more than two years) after their Ph.D. or medical school programs. They are typically hired into more senior pre-MBA roles, i.e., Junior Associates at McKinsey, Associate Consultants at Bain, and Senior Associates at BCG.
What’s next if you’d like to get into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in Switzerland
Looking to join McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in Switzerland? CaseCoach has resources to guide you all the way from your resume crafting stage to your final interviews.
Our Free Resume Course provides resume and cover letter templates and specialized advice for students, MBAs, and experienced professionals.
The Interview Prep Course contains all the material you need to ace your case and fit interview, including interview videos of candidates who joined top consulting firms in Switzerland.
CaseCoach’s team of coaches includes former consultants and interviewers with McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. They are available to deliver case and fit interview coaching and mock interviews in a realistic setting to put your preparation to the test, providing the personal feedback and practical advice needed to ace your interviews.