INSEAD is quickly becoming the business school for consultants. The percentage of INSEAD’s graduates who accepted jobs with consulting firms last year reached 43%, up nearly ten percentage points from two years ago and a couple of points higher than in 2014.
With the sole exception of Amazon, six of INSEAD’s top seven employers last year were all consulting firms. The industry’s Big Three—McKinsey, BCG and Bain—last year employed more than one in four of the graduates who reported back to the school on their career decisions. The 27.5%, or 226 graduating MBAs, that went to M/B/B was a tick higher than the 26.7% claimed by the Big Three from INSEAD a year earlier.
Despite the increased heavy emphasis on consulting, which tends to pay among the highest starting pay packages for MBA graduates, median salaries at the school declined by 7% to $107,100, from $115,100 a year earlier, largely the result of a depreciating Euro. The school said that the median sign-on bonus, received by 64% of its graduates, was $23,000, while the median performance bonus, given to 73% of the MBAs, was $22,500.
TOTAL FIRST YEAR PAY SLIGHTLY AHEAD OF LONDON BUT BELOW 16 U.S. SCHOOLS
That made the total first-year compensation package, adjusted for the percentage of graduates receiving bonuses, $138,240, slightly ahead of London Business School’s $133,580, but below at least 16 U.S. schools, including MBA pay leader Stanford GSB whose 2015 graduates walked off campus with first-year total pay of $160,287. That 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. Still, the decline occurs in a year in which INSEAD rival London Business School saw a 7.5% increase in median salaries for its MBAs to $117,596 (£75,276) from $109,354 (£70,000) a year earlier.
Nonetheless, the school said that 90% of the MBAs, which includes cohorts graduating in December of 2014 and July of 2015, had job offers three months after graduation. That compares favorably with most peer schools, though somewhat lower than many U.S. schools reported.
INSEAD’s employment outcomes are from its recently published 2015 employment report. For the first time, the school published end-of-year statistics to bring itin line with peer schools. The report includes MBA students who graduated in December of 2014 and July of 2015. The change makes comparisons with the previous report difficult. In those two classes, INSEAD graduated 1,003 MBAs. Roughly 98% of them, or 987, responded to the school’s employment survey and 85%, or 695 graduates, reported full salary and career information to the school.
With this latest release on career outcomes, INSEAD also decided to report its overall numbers in U.S. dollars, using average exchange rates between December 2014 and September 2015. “We are confident that this will provide a better sense of the compensation levels of our students given that the US$ remains the currency of reference for most recruiters and top business schools,” explained Guido Gianasso, global director of INSEAD’s career development center.
CONSULTING NEARLY THREE TIMES AS POPULAR AS FINANCE AT INSEAD
This latest report shows that consulting, as a career choice, is nearly three times as popular as finance, which drew only 15% of the class, more than twice as popular as technology and media, which claimed 21% of the graduates, and, remarkably, more than 21 times more popular than healthcare, which employed only 2% of the class.
The school’s reliance on consulting exceeds any other top business school in the world (see Where Prestige Consulting Firms Scoop Up MBA Talent). In the U.S., by comparison, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business sends just 14% of its class into consulting, while Harvard Business School ships off 24% of its MBAs into the field. INSEAD clearly beats the U.S. schools where MBAs find consulting careers the most attractive: Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Columbia Business School each sent 35% of the Class of 2015 into consulting—eight percentage points lower than INSEAD.
What accounts for the school’s popularity with consultants? For one thing, many consulting firms like the idea of sending their employees to INSEAD’s 10-month MBA program. It’s less expensive than a two-year experience and employees-turned-students are more likely to return after such a short stint. In fact, 36% of the INSEAD MBAs who went into consulting returned to their pre-MBA employees, including 38 of 102 grads who joined McKinsey, 20 of 72 who went to BCG, and 18 of the 52 grads employed by Bain.