BOOZ GETS A BOOST
Beyond the MBB, Deloitte Consulting and Oliver Wyman rounded out the Top 5, with the latter improving its score by .128 of a point. GE Healthcare also continued its impressive run. Unranked in 2018, the firm climbed to 10th this year, joining A.T. Kearney among three entrants in the Top 10. However, the biggest mover in the Vault Consulting 50 is unquestionably Booz Allen Hamilton, which has hopscotched from unranked to 21st to 6th over the past three rankings.
Founded in 1914, Booz hosts 80 offices worldwide and carries a reputation as a post-service employer for military and intelligence officials. In fact, its alumni include a former CIA director, a national intelligence director, and several astronauts. It even gained notoriety as the inspiration for the Showtime series House of Lies. Recently, the firm has been making headlines for internal improvements, which enabled it to skyrocket in the Vault Consulting 50.
“Booz improved substantially in its internal scores, writes Vault’s Stephan Maldonado. “It is ranking well in seven quality of life rankings that it hasn’t previously ranked for: Hours in the Office, Work/Life Balance, Diversity, Innovation, Formal Training, Overall Business Outlook, and Travel Requirements. Leadership seems to be making more of a concerted effort to promote a healthy work/life balance; the nature of the work they do is specialized and very demanding, and I think leadership recognizes the importance of avoiding burnout. There are various internal initiatives to offer access to wellness programs as well as healthy lifestyle incentives. From a training perspective, there is a concerted effort to upskill employees across the firm, so there is ongoing access to extensive trainings. Diversity initiatives seem to be taken seriously, and while I don’t have exact numbers, many respondents claim that this is reflected in the composition of management and people in leadership roles.”
Among the surveys, one respondent framed Booz as “an ethical consulting firm with a military culture, striving to change the world.” Another commended the culture and benefits of the firm. “In my [time at] the firm, I have seen many people leave to try out new positions in different firms. I’m not surprised at all when I run across them, a few years later, as we welcome them as ‘come-back kids’. The benefits are the best (compared to my friends’ various workplaces), and the paths to promotion are clear and assisted—you can even transfer to different departments or teams with your original team’s blessing and encouragement. The firm believes that if you are happy doing what you’re doing, you’ll perform effectively and productively.”
PUTNAM AND BRIDGESTONE LOSE GROUND
Booz Allen Hamilton wasn’t the only firm to make a comeback in the Vault Consulting 50. Five years ago, ScottMadden Management Consultants ranked among Vault’s Top 20 firms, thanks to competitive scores in Firm Leadership, Firm Culture, and Overall Business Outlook. By 2018, it had plummeted to 50th and failed to rank last year. This year, ScottMadden returned to the ranking, placing 31st. In particular, the firm punched above its weight in its traditional strengths, along with ranking 15th in Ability to Challenge and 15th in both Overall Satisfaction and Compensation. A boutique firm with a heavy presence in energy consulting, ScottMadden also drew a slew of positive reviews from current consultants.
“Our culture is really what sets us apart,” writes one anonymous survey respondent. “Everyone operates with integrity and has great respect for each other and for the needs of our clients. This creates an environment where we are all working toward the same goals and our consultants genuinely enjoy spending time together—both at work and outside the office.”
Gartner also turned heads in the Vault Consulting 50 in 2020. Unranked two years ago, the firm climbed eight spots to #23. The Ignyte Group made a similar move, rising from 35th to 27th. However, among the Top 50, 21 firms lost ground, with 30 total posting lower scores overall. This group includes Putnam Associates. Seemingly poised to enter the Top 5 over the past two years, Putnam plunged from 6th to 12th, thanks to lower scores in Quality of Life and Work benchmarks (though it remained the top firm overall for Internal Mobility and Travel). The Bridgespan Group, a social impact advisory firm that ranked as high as 6th in 2018, continued to its slide to 15th in 2020. The Brattle Group tumbled out of the Top 20. A Top 10 firm just two years ago, Brattle lost another 12 spots to hit 28th.
Overall, the Vault Consulting 50 was a bit more tumultuous in 2020. Eight firms debuted, headed by Cornerstone Research at 25th. Blue Matter (30th), Insigniam (36th), Applied Value (37th), and StoneTurn (39th) also made their first appearance in the ranking. By the same token, several big names nosedived off the Consulting 50, including Protiviti, Bates White Economic Consulting, Charles River River Associates, and The Cambridge Group. In terms of the overall score, 2020 will be a year to forget for OC&C Strategy Consultants. Along with dropping from 28th to 49th, the firm experienced a .574 loss in average. In contrast, Booz Allen Hamilton’s score jumped by .583 of a point.
Go to the next page to see the Top 10 Boutique consulting firms.