Record 46% Of INSEAD MBAs Go Into Consulting

INSEAD bills itself as “the business school for the world”

INSEAD has long been known as one of the top feeder business schools for the global consulting industry, sending more MBAs into the field than any other B-school in the world. But in 2016 even INSEAD broke all kinds of records in this regard. Some 46% of the graduating class last year accepted jobs in the consulting sector, up from 43% a year earlier and nearly 13 percentage points higher than just three years ago.

Nine of the school’s major employers last year were all consultants led by the three big global players, McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Co. In fact, those three prestige firms alone scooped up a remarkable 29.8% of the graduates who reported their career choices to INSEAD. McKinsey employed 125, up from 102 MBAs last year. BCG hired 67 grads, slightly down from 72 a year earlier, while Bain employed 48, down a bit from 52 a year earlier. Only three firms, all in technology, broke up the consulting party: Amazon, Microsoft and Google, which were among the dozen top employers (see Major Employers Of INSEAD MBAs In 2016).

As is often the case at INSEAD, many of these graduates returned to their firms after picking up their MBA in the 10-month-long program. The accelerated pace of the MBA experience makes the school particularly appealing to consulting firms who sponsor their employees. The McKinsey total, for example, includes 75 new hires and 50 MBAs who returned to the firm. At BCG, 26 of the 67 hires were of former employees, while at Bain 14 of 48 total hires had previously worked for the firm.


Graham Hastie, interim global director of INSEAD’s career
development centre

The total median compensation package, adjusted for the percentage of graduates reporting sign-on and year-end performance bonuses, totaled $134,268, a 2.9% decline from a year earlier. Graham Hastie, interim global director of INSEAD’s career development center, attributed the decline to “changes in exchange rates, which saw local currencies depreciate by 3.6% against the U.S. dollar in 2016.” Otherwise, average base salaries–not total compensation–would have risen 1.7%, explained Hastie.

The total pay is composed of median salary of $102,500, sign-on bonuses of $22,800, reported by 65% of the class, and performance bonuses of $22,300, received by 74% of the MBAs. INSEAD’s $134,268 total, just behind the University of Texas McCombs School’s $135,885, puts INSEAD behind 19 U.S. business schools. The highest paid MBA graduates last year again came off the campus of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School. Stanford MBAs pulled down a total median pay package of $163,827, while HBS grads landed packages worth $158,080 (see What MBAs Make In Their First Year Of Work).

The pay gap is largely the result of many more INSEAD MBAs going to work in countries where pay levels are significantly lower than they are in more mature economies as well as many students who enter the program with salaries below those at many U.S. schools. Salaries across the world, even in the same industry from the same employers, can vary widely (see below table). INSEAD revealed that graduates who took jobs in India earned median salaries of $47,360, or 3,200,000 Rupees, compared to overall median salaries for the entire class of $102,500, a sum that would include the Indian salaries.

And while the median starting salary for a consulting job in North America topped out at $145,000, exactly the number reported by leading U.S. schools, the median in Southern Europe was just $77,900. In Latin America, starting salaries in consulting were only $81,300, while in Asia Pacific they were $113,500, according to INSEAD. Moreover, the cost of getting an INSEAD degree are significantly lower than those who enter a more traditional two-year MBA program, resulting in one of the highest returns on investment for any MBA in the world.


The career results are detailed in INSEAD’s 2016 employment report. Year in and year out, INSEAD publishes one of the most transparent reports of any business school. It covers some 999 MBAs from INSEAD in the graduating classes in December of 2015 and July of 2016. The school said that 975 graduates, or 98%, responded to its employment survey, though 805, or 84%, provided details of their career decisions.

The highest salary landed by an INSEAD grad last year was $203,800 for a job in retail and luxury goods in Switzerland. Yet, another MBA also landed a job paying $202,140 in annual salary for a position in the private equity or venture capital field in a vp/director role in Western Europe. The lowest reported salary, $22,400, went to an MBA who took a job in the public sector or social impact field in Asia Pacific.

INSEAD reported that 89% of its graduates had at least one job offer three months after graduation, down from 90% in 2015. That level of employment also trails many of the leading U.S. schools. At Chicago Booth and Wharton last year, more than 98% of the graduates had job offers three months after commencement, while at London Business School, 96% of the 2016 class had job offers at that point. Still, the 89% job offer rate was just a point below Stanford’s 90% job offer level last year. Given the unusually wide dispersement of INSEAD grads around the world, the 89% offer rate is impressive, or as Hastie pointed out, “a remarkable achievement given the intensive nature of our 10-month global MBA programme and the macro-economic uncertainty in some of our traditional sectors and geographies.”

While 46% of its graduates landed jobs in Europe, some 29% gained employment in Asia Pacific, 10% in Africa and the Middle East, 8% in North America, and 7% in Latin America. The school said that no single country accounted for more than 14% of the jobs its graduates landed last year.