Three is a sacred number. For many, three represents unity: the past, present, and future and the beginning, middle, and end. There are three primary colors and three sides to a triangle. Magically, you can always come home if you click your heels three times – or enjoy good luck when you find a three-leaf clover. Alas, three isn’t perfect. Misfortune is said to arrive in threes…just ask any slugger who strikes out. While sports fans clamor for a repeat, there are few achievements so monumental as a three-peat.
That’s because three-in-a-row requires an almost transcendent focus. This relentless commitment to service and craft enables an organization to fend off challengers driven to topple them. That’s what McKinsey faces as the consulting industry’s standard-bearer in the Vault Consulting 50 – the industry’s yardstick ranking for excellence. Based on survey responses from practitioners and consultants alike, McKinsey has reigned as North America’s best since 2018. In the 2020 ranking, released August 20th, McKinsey notched its three-peat, matching Bain & Company’s hold on the top spot from 2011-2013.
What’s their secret? Kerry Casey, McKinsey’s Director of North American Recruiting, boils it down to never settling into complacency. “We are constantly innovating and adapting,” she tells P&Q in an August statement. “It’s a lot of work but we know we can never rest and just do what we’ve always done. This is true for client work, especially in areas like digital, data and design, where the breadth of what we help clients with and the profiles of who make up our teams is different than it was five or ten years ago. It’s also true in what we offer to our people… we are constantly looking at things like how we deliver training, our benefits, how we help people live full lives, and how we answer the questions and meet the expectations our new joiners have.”
BOOZ MAKES NEWS
Consider being proactive a necessity to stay on top. This year, McKinsey edged out the runner-up, the Boston Consulting Group, by .83 of a point on a 10-point scale. At the same time, McKinsey ceded ground to third-ranked Bain & Company in several Quality of Life and Work measures. BCG and Bain aren’t McKinsey’s only worry when it comes to the Vault Consulting 50. Booz Allen Hamilton, a long-slumbering giant with a long history and a pristine reputation, has found life over the past two years. Unranked in 2018, the firm climbed to 6th in Vault’s new ranking, up by nearly .60 of a point thanks to increasingly upbeat reviews by employees. Boutique firms like Clearview Healthcare Partners and ghSmart continue to rise for the same reason, with their upward surge stunted by lack of industry-wide name recognition.
The Consulting 50 acts as a barometer of how consultants feel about their employers…and competitors. The survey is produced by Vault, the leading collector of market intelligence for employer ratings and reviews. This year’s survey features over 17,000 verified, confidential survey responses from consulting firm employees. As part of the process, each respondent completes three surveys, following a 10-point system where 10 is the highest-possible score.
The first survey covers Prestige, where respondents score competitors based on their renown and influence. Respondents follow the same criteria when they evaluate peers in 15 different Practice Areas, which can range from energy to strategy consulting. In both the Prestige and Practice Area surveys, respondents are barred from evaluating their own firms. The tables turn when it comes to the Quality of Life and Careers survey. Here, respondents evaluate their employers according to 21 benchmarks, which include pay and benefits, leadership and long-term outlook, formal and informal training, and internal promotion opportunities and culture.
Overall, the Vault Consulting 50 gives the greatest weight to Prestige, which accounts for 30% of a firm’s ranking. Overall Satisfaction and Firm Culture take up 15% each. Another 30% is divvied up evenly between responses to Compensation, Work-Life-Balance, and Level of Challenge. Two remaining measures, Business Outlook and Promotion Policies, take up 5% each.
Click on the links below for in-depth analysis and ranking tables for each area of the Vault Consulting 50.
Go to next page to see why McKinsey ranked #1.