43% of INSEAD MBA graduates join management consulting

29 February 2016 Consultancy.uk

INSEAD is one of Europe’s key business schools, sitting on top of the FT’s latest MBA school ranking. New data shows that management consulting remains the top destination for MBA graduates from the Paris-based university, with 43% of the 2015 class moving into the industry – up from 41% on the year before. Average salaries for those entering the industry are not the highest however, with financial services paying more in starting bonus, median salary and performance bonus – suggesting that the reputation and allure of management consulting remains strong. 

Last year 1,003 MBAs graduated from INSEAD, one of Europe’s most prestigious businesses schools. Graduates from its MBA programme tend to be in hot demand, with a number of sectors vying to attract graduates to their place of business. According to official figures released by the school, the management consulting sector was by far the destination of choice for graduates, snapping up 43% of all graduates – up from 41% the year before and up nearly 10% the year before that. The financial services industry comes a distant second at 15%, joint with the TMT industry, followed by e-commerce / internet at 12%.

Destination of INSEAD graduates per sector

Interestingly, only 69% of those that were consultants before taking on the MBA returned to consulting following graduation. Although figures are not released on the matter, the hiring (non-consulting) companies typically take over the investment burden consultants face vis a vis their consulting employer, which for INSEAD currently sites between €65,000 to €70,000 in tuition fees alone.

The figures further disclose that McKinsey & Company picked up the most MBAs from the programme last year at 102, followed by the Boston Consulting Group at 72 and Bain & Company at 52. The rest of the around 205 graduates that delved into management consulting were spread across Accenture, A.T. Kearney and Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), with among others Deloitte and L.E.K. Consulting also picking up a number of freshly minted MBAs.

Stephane Ponce, global consulting lead for INSEAD’s Career Development Centre, remarks that in recent years the share of the Big Four in the recruitment of INSEAD MBA graduates has been on the rise, a trend which in particular has accelerated following their push into the strategy consulting segment: “With the acquisition of Booz & Company by PwC to form Strategy&, the acquisition of Monitor by Deloitte, and of Parthenon by EY, we see that all the traditional accounting firms – KPMG included – are significantly growing their advisory practices.”

McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, Accenture, A.T. Kearney, Strategy&, Deloitte, L.E.K. Consulting

To entice INSEAD MBAs to the management consulting path, which promises a steep learning curve, high impact work, an international work experience in broad fields and great networking at the top of business, median salaries hit 113,600 last year – with a sign on bonus of almost $24,000 and a median performance bonus of $25,000. This is somewhat lower than the next biggest draw, financial services, where median salaries are $114,900 and sign bonuses come in at $31,400. While initial salaries from INSEAD remain relatively impressive, they do fall behind key US schools: Virginia’s Darden School, Berkeley-Haas, Wharton, Stanford and Harvard MBAs working in consulting earned $140,000 average starting salaries in 2015.

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Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.