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    What type of candidates make it to McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East?

    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 the Middle East. When we say the Middle East, we refer to consultants hired into the Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Doha, and Kuwait Offices.

    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 the Middle East?
    • Which undergrad universities give you the highest chances of getting into McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in the Middle East?
    • Is an MBA a good route to management consulting in the Middle East?
    • Is there an entry path to McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in the Middle East from other industries?

    The insights in this article are based on a detailed analysis of about 350 individuals hired by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain for their client-facing consulting roles in the Middle East from 2020 to mid-2022.

    Key Takeaways:

    • Hiring by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East comprises 51% pre-experience students, 25% experienced professionals, 23% MBAs, and 1% advanced degree hires.
    • Within the research period (Q1 2020 to Q2 2022), with 46% of total hires, BCG hired nearly half of all consultants! This meant almost twice as many hires as McKinsey and Bain (27% of hires each).
    • Across all significant channels, International universities contributed 60% of all hires, implying that the Middle East is an excellent destination for international candidates who may not have significant opportunities to join McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in their home countries.
    • 68% of hires by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East were male, and no channel or firm had up to 40% female hires.
    • Pre-experience student hires are spread across a large variety of universities instead of concentrated on a few core universities. The top sources of hires include the American University of Beirut (11%), Alfaisal University (8%), and King Saud University (7%).
    • Almost half of all MBBs’ Middle East pre-experience student hires graduated with an engineering degree!
    • Almost half of all MBA hires by MBB in the Middle East come from INSEAD (47% of the total). Other significant MBA hire contributors are IESE Business School (12%) and the London Business school (10%).

    The main sources of candidates for top consulting firms in the Middle East

    Top firms hire across all recruiting channels apart from advanced degrees

    While all recruitment channels are open and used by all firms, 99% of hires are either pre-experience students (51%), experienced hires (25%), or MBA hires (23%). Advanced degree candidates only make up 1% of hires in the Middle East.

    Combined view of McKinsey, BCG, and Bain's recruitment channels in the Middle East

    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 the Middle East, they’re typically hired into post-MBA roles, i.e., Associates at McKinsey or Consultants at BCG and Bain.

    MBB in the Middle East hire more candidates with international undergraduate degrees than any other geography

    Unlike any other top consulting market we’ve considered, candidates with undergraduate degrees from international universities make up the majority (60%) of hires into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East.

    Combined view of McKinsey, BCG, and Bain's undergraduate university location by hiring channel in the Middle East

    This applies to all significant channels. International undergrad holders make up 52% of pre-experience student hires, 64% of MBA hires, and 71% of experienced professional hires! These candidates come from universities around the world, including Asia (most notably Russia and India), Europe (most notably the UK, France, and Italy), and the US, among others.

    We can gather that the Middle East is a great destination for international candidates who may not have significant opportunities to join McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in their home countries.

    BCG hires significantly more than McKinsey and Bain

    Within the research period (Q1 2020 to Q2 2022), with 46% of total hires, BCG hired close to half of all consultants! This meant almost twice as many hires as McKinsey and Bain (27% of hires each). Despite the hiring volume disparities, all three firms had a similar hiring mix by channel, the main difference being that BCG hired more MBAs than experienced hires.

    MBB in the Middle East hire more male candidates

    Sixty-eight percent of hires by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East were male, signaling significant room for improvement in gender parity in hiring. These stats hold true across the board, as women did not makeup 40% of hires in any hiring channel or firm.

    This geography has the highest gender-imbalanced hiring for MBB across all top consulting markets we’ve looked at.

    McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s pre-experience student hiring in the Middle East

    Pre-experience students made up 51% of total hires by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East 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 majority of recruitments at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East.

    The next sub-heading will deep-dive into which universities MBB in the Middle East sourced their pre-experience student hires.

    Where did Middle Eastern MBB pre-experience students go to university?

    MBB recruiting in the Middle East is spread across many universities instead of concentrated on a few core universities. In the Middle East, MBBs’ hires from the top four universities made up only 31% of the total (versus 70% for France and 65% for the UK).

    Universities attended by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain's pre-experience student hires in the Middle East

    Regional universities (18 universities) contributed only 48% of the total! This is unlike any other geography that we have considered. Five of them contributed significantly to hiring: American University of Beirut (11%), Alfaisal University (8%), King Saud University (7%), King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (5%), and Prince Sultan University (5%).

    International university hiring (64 universities contributing 52% of the total) was spread across geographies, including the US, Europe, and Asia. This means that the Middle East is a good destination for international candidates fresh from universities who may not have a strong consulting market in their home country.

    What did they study?

    Almost half of all MBB Middle East pre-experience student hires graduated with an Engineering degree! Again, this is higher than in any other top consulting market/geography we’ve considered. Thirty percent of hires graduated with a business, management, or economics degree, while only 23% graduated with various other degrees.

    This may be more a reflection of the strength of the local engineering education, which has traditionally fed the oil and gas industry, than a deliberate choice made by the firms.

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    McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s Experienced Professionals Hiring in the Middle East

    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 the Middle East from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022, making up 25% of all hires by these three firms.

    Experienced hires joined top firms at different levels:

    • 62% 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 their seniority at their initial firm.
    • 38% 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 the Middle Eastern MBB’s experienced hires come from?

    Fifty-one percent of experienced hires came from other consulting firms. What is interesting is that some of these consulting hires came from other MBBs, e.g., Bain to McKinsey. They also include other strategy consulting firms (e.g., Kearney, Roland Berger) and Big-4’s strategy teams (e.g., Strategy& at PwC, Monitor Deloitte). The remaining came from various industries.

    Where did MBBs experienced hires in the Middle East go to university?

    As with pre-experience student hires, there is significant diversity in the universities where experienced hires studied. Experienced professionals come from over 65 different universities, and none of the universities make up more than 3% of the hires.

    McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s MBA hiring in the Middle East

    Twenty-three percent of MBB hires in the Middle East came from an MBA program, a similar proportion as in the UK and Canada. By firm, this stat breaks down differently—28% of McKinsey’s hires were from MBA programs, while only 15% of Bain’s hires come from MBA programs.

    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.

    For MBA hires, we will explore two questions in the following subheadings:

    • Which business schools did they attend?
    • Which undergrad universities did they attend?

    Which business schools did Middle Eastern MBB MBA hires attend?

    European MBA programs made up 84% of the total, while US MBAs contribute 15% of MBA hires. Almost half of all MBA hires by MBB in the Middle East come from INSEAD (47% of the total). Other significant MBA hire contributors are IESE Business School (12%) and the London Business school (10%).

    Business schools attended by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain's MBA hires in the Middle East

    Advanced Degree hiring in the Middle East

    Advanced degrees were the smallest proportion of hires for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East, making up just 1% of total hiring.


    What’s next if you’d like to get into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the Middle East

    Looking to join McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in the Middle East? 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 the Middle East.

    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.

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