Exit Options for Strategy Consultants

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Concept of difficult choices of a businessman

After spending several years in the consulting industry, strategy consultants possess expertise in functional practices across several industries and have built a strong network with reputable business leaders. Therefore, many exit options are available for qualified consultants, some of which include:

Corporate Roles

This is probably the most common exit option. A number of large corporations have internal consulting groups, which are supervised by ex-consultants. Outside of strategy, the pace is generally slower. Consultants are a good fit for corporate roles that demand analytics, research, project coordination, and staff management. Some of the advantages of opting for corporate roles include a more stable work environment, shorter hours, and the opportunity to develop an operating skillset. However, there are also cons associated with this option such as reduced pay and benefits and less flexibility when it comes to choosing projects and team members.

Graduate School

Many consultants who hit the two year mark apply to graduate programs. Experience in the consulting industry looks great on a resume and can help you get into top graduate programs at the best universities. A lot of undergraduate consultants pursue graduate school to figure out their next career move. It also gives them a break from the stress of daily consulting work.

The majority of consultants choose business school, while others pursue law school or opt to enroll in a Masters or PhD program. If you’re interested in a Masters or PhD program, conduct research on the companies that concentrate in your area. For example, Cornerstone is focused on economics research, which is a great fit for a future economics PhD.

Finance Roles

One of the more challenging exit options to consider is a career in finance. Let’s just say that an i-banker would break into these roles easier than a strategy consultant. However, if you are a product of a top-tier consultancy firm and the company needs some operational experience, you could have an advantage over experienced bankers. Some of the most common finance roles for ex-consultants include:

Private Equity

Strategy consultants are very much suited for private equity posts but they need to research potential employers. Larger shops, such as Carlyle and TPG, favor consultants who have handled corporate finance projects or those with prior banking experience.

One of the benefits of this exit option is that PE offers better compensation as well as greater prestige and the opportunity to handle industry-shaping projects. Some of the best firms in this sector include the McBain Group and Oliver Wyman.

Hedge Funds

Consultants can also break into the hedge fund sector; however, the opportunities are quite limited. You can only target those that demand the skills of an experienced consultant. For example, macroeconomic funds place a lot of emphasis on  market research, so this would be a good fit, whereas specialized funds would not.

In terms of salary, hedge funds can offer better compensation, and like PE, can open the door to industry-changing opportunities. It may be easier to penetrate this industry before you get into business school.

Asset Management / Equity Research

The skill set of a management consultant is a great fit for asset management or equity research. Aim for positions at top firms and target modeling-heavy assignments.


Building a business is probably one of the least chosen exit options. However, consulting experience does serve as an advantage as consultants are constantly exposed to diverse industries, complex business problems, and great networks of business professionals, they are equipped with the elements required to start a successful business.

You can either start your own company or join a startup. The consulting industry is filled with entrepreneurs and generally has strong startup communities.

Public Sector and Government Roles

This is typically the least chosen path out of consulting. Only a few consultants are inclined to government service and politics. Some ex-consultants who have pursued their political careers include Bobby Jindal, formerly of McKinsey, and Mitt Romney, formerly of Bain.

Of course, the most visible benefit of opting for this career is the opportunity to take on government positions. On the other hand, the cons include reduced pay, longer working hours, and an indefinite career path.

The exit options listed above include only a few roles to consider. With a powerful skill set and expert credentials, a good consultant could break into any industry.

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