Top 50 Consulting Firms To Work For In 2021

Vault Consulting 50 Ranking

Booz Allen Hamilton is hardly a newcomer to consulting. It was founded in 1914 and has been recognized for helping to land a man on the moon and launch the Super Bowl. In many ways, the firm has been taken for granted, even if it inspired a TV show (House of Lies). Boasting 27,000 employees, the firm caters to the public sector, carving out lucrative niches in cybersecurity, AI, analytics, and engineering.  Over the past two years, it has been making noise in the Vault Consulting 50, reaching #4 in the 2021 ranking.

The driving force behind this improvement has been all-around excellence. Considering the firm’s heritage, a high score in Prestige – a 30% weight – is a given. Here, Booz Allen Hamilton placed 8th, just a shade below Accenture. When it comes to Quality of Life and Work measures, the firm ranked in the Top 20 in 16 of 22 categories, topping out at #3 in Hours Worked and #5 in Work-Life Balance. In survey respondent surveys, the firm was feted for its supportive culture.

“Culture sets Booz Allen apart from the competition,” writes one consultant surveyed by Vault. “Consulting has a terrible reputation of work/life balance, hours, and even bad personalities. At Booz Allen, I feel supported as a person and employee, with room and opportunities for growth but little pressure to sacrifice my wellbeing. I love working with intelligent, interesting people who are actually kind…I did not experience that kindness and acceptance at my last firm. Any challenges I face are because I am learning a difficult skill, not because of a frustrating and draining culture. Being able to do technical work, not churn out PowerPoints that are barely referenced, keeps my work inspiring. We are happy at Booz Allen, not just faking how happy we are when networking with Leadership.”


EY-Parthenon also cracked this year’s Top 5. Like Booz Allen Hamilton, the firm earned high marks for Prestige (#10), while also producing Top 20 scores in 9 measures (Led by a #8 finish in Relationships with Supervisors). ClearView Healthcare Partners also landed in the Top 10 at #7 after lighting up the Boutique rankings in recent years. It was certainly a darling of survey-takers, who ranked it #1 in 6 categories (Firm Leadership, Innovation, Internal Mobility, Overall Business Outlook, Promotion Policies, and Travel Requirements) and #2 in 5 other categories (Formal Training, Informal Training, Interaction with Clients, Level of Challenge, and Relationships With Supervisors). It even cracked the Top 5 in 7 more categories.

So why isn’t ClearView Healthcare Partners a clear-cut #1? Blame survey-takers outside the firm, who didn’t rank it among the 50 most prestigious. In other words, with Prestige taking up 30% of the ranking’s weight, the methodology undercut any chance that Clearview Healthcare Partners had to join the big names.

Except Deloitte Consulting. Ranked 4th last year, it dropped to #8 despite a Prestige factor within the range of the MBB. Despite ranking among the Top 5 in 16 different practice areas, the firm failed to muster much enthusiasm from its own employees. Deloitte could only garner 3 Top 20 rankings in the Quality of Life and Work metrics, led by an inspiring 16th place finish in Formal Training.

“Deloitte has held steady at No. 4 for the last five years, so we’re confident this was a blip,” explains Vault’s Stephan Maldonado. “The pandemic impacted participation numbers for many of our firms.”


Other stalwarts also struggled in this year’s Vault Consulting 50. Kearney continued its downward slide. It lost another 3 spots to finish 16th. GE Healthcare tumbled from 10th to 21st as well. At the same time, Accenture and Strategy& dropped out of the Top 50, each for entirely different reasons according to Maldonado.

“Strategy& is part of the Consulting50; PwC Advisory/Strategy&—both firms are under the same umbrella in North America. The pandemic impacted Accenture’s participation in this year’s survey, but we fully expect them to re-enter the Consulting 50 next year.”

Another eight firms also dropped out of this year’s Vault Consulting 50, a sign of the disruption wrought by the pandemic.  L.E.K. Consulting, for one, ranked 9th overall. It failed to make the cut in 2021. The same is true of the Analysis Group (#17), Gartner (#23), ZS Associates (#34), StoneTurn (#39), Cicero Group (#42), Innosight (#47), and Aarete (#48).

Their departures opened up new spots, however. The most impressive debut belonged to The Cambridge Group. After ranking 44th in 2019 and missing the Top 50 in 2020, the marketing and development boutique returned to claim the #17 spot. DeciBio joined the festivities at #30, with Bates White Economic Consulting and Mercer nabbing the #32 and #33 spots. The remaining debuts included Artisan Healthcare Consulting, Charles River Associates, Triangle Insights Group, The Poirier Group, Jabian Consulting, and Syneos Health.

Alvarez & Marshal is another company on the ascent. It soared 11 spots to #11 in the past year. It scored high marks in four key areas: Overall Business Outlook (#9), Compensation (#11), Firm Leadership (#14), and Employee Satisfaction (#17). Kaiser & Associates surged a jaw-dropping 25 spots to #21. After rising from #30 to #19, Maldonado considers this boutique to be a consulting firm to watch.

“Given their positioning for success in the current climate, Blue Matter, in particular, impressed us this year. They increased in many of their internal-scores–including some substantial jumps in the Top 50 (No. 19 from No. 30), Overall Business Outlook (No. 3 from No. 21), innovation (No. 8 from No. 22), and Satisfaction (No. 10 from No. 15). Our impression from their feedback is that they are a firm doing right by their employees, offering a positive working experience and solid growth opportunities. Definitely one to consider for those interested in a career in life sciences consulting.”

Next Page: Prestige and Boutique Firm Ranking

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