McKinsey Ups Hires At Wharton, Tuck, Darden

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

For many MBA students, the dream job is a stint with McKinsey & Co., the preeminent global consulting firm and the largest single employer of MBA talent in the world. Even this year’s conviction of McKinsey’s former managing director, Rajat Gupta, for insider trading didn’t dull the desire of MBA grads to work for The Firm.

After all, McKinsey typically pays among the highest salaries and bonuses to MBA grads, and the jobs give graduates a broad overview of a lot of different companies and industries. What’s more, the prestigious management consulting firm has been a top destination for MBAs for almost 80 years. A survey of this year’s MBA students shows that McKinsey is the second most desirable employer for MBAs after only Google.

If it’s something of a coup for an MBA to land a job with McKinsey, it also provides schools that place a fair number of their grads with The Firm a good deal of prestige. Successful hires endure a long round of interviews, along with a 26-question problem solving exam that essentially tests students’ ability to think through the types of business problems McKinsey consultants face.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the business school which turned out more McKinsey consultants than any other is INSEAD. A whopping 107 MBAs, or roughly 22% of INSEAD’s entire graduating class, went to work for the elite consulting firm.

INSEAD’s big McKinsey play is partly a result of its one-year MBA program that allows McKinsey employees to go to the school to get their MBA ticket punched. Almost half of the MBAs going to McKinsey from INSEAD, for example, had worked for McKinsey before going back to business school.


Bloomberg BusinessWeek said that among the more than 100 schools participating in its ranking this year, McKinsey hired 387 MBA graduates, making it the biggest employer of MBAs in the world. Many schools have yet to release their full 2012 employment reports, but BusinessWeek has collected this information from surveys for its forthcoming ranking on Nov. 15. So the data is an early peek at McKinsey’s hiring at top business schools.

In some cases, the data may be somewhat incomplete or a mix of apples and oranges.  Last year, Columbia Business School, for example, reported that McKinsey hired 68 of its MBAs, though 29 were sponsored by McKinsey and obviously returned to the firm after graduation. BusinessWeek’s reported number for the school this year no doubt subtract sponsored employees which are included in the INSEAD figures.

When you add Poets&Quants’ estimates for McKinsey’s hires at Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, MIT Sloan, London Business School, and New York University’s Stern School, which do not or have not yet disclosed their top employers this year, the total comes to some 517 MBA hires by McKinsey in 2012.


Schools that significantly increased the number of MBA grads into McKinsey this year were the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School. At Wharton, McKinsey upped its hiring of MBAs by 39.5% to 53 graduates from just 38 a year earlier.  At Tuck, some 20 MBAs took McKinsey up on its job offers, up 42.9% from the 14 Tuckies the firm hired last year. And at the Darden School, McKinsey brought aboard 14 MBAs this year, up 50% from the seven it hired a year earlier.

On the other hand, schools that saw their McKinsey hires fall this year include Columbia  Business School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and the University of Michigan’s Ross School.

It is somewhat ironic that McKinsey hires at Kellogg fell by 30% this year to 37 from 53 hires last year. That’s because a year ago Kellogg hired former McKinsey partner Betsy Ziegler as its new associate dean of MBA programs and dean of students and more recently named another former McKinsey partner, Will Garrett, as its new associate dean for executive education.

  • Caricouture

    MBB have offices all around the globe and need recruits with local language skills for continental Europe and Asia. INSEAD has a campus in Singapore also and the large, international class make the school a one stop shop for global recruiters like MBB.

  • Caricouture

    Regarding name recognition, the opposite is also true. One of my best friends is a Wharton alum. He is very disappointed with the level of name recognition Wharton has in Europe and told me that he wishes he had gone to INSEAD. He said the European Wharton alum network was also quite poor in his view.

    There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “best” MBA. As you say, what good is the “best” MBA education if you cannot find a job at the end of it all?

    The moral of the story is that the “best” school choice will vary depending on where the candidate is from, where they want to work and in what field.

  • Caricouture

    We’d have to wait and see how much H/S/W would charge for their 1yr MBA first before determining whether the competitive advantage remains or not.

    The US schools also cannot rival INSEAD in terms of European alumni network, so candidates wishing to remain in Europe may still prefer INSEAD.

    Stanford and MIT both offer 1yr Sloan programs, as does London Business School and you’ll see geography & network do play a role in program choice.

  • Joey

    It would have been more insightful if there was another column showing % of total class. It is difficult to assess with such huge deviations in class size.

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