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Beyond the Uniform

Beyond the Uniform is a show to help military veterans navigate their civilian career. Each week, I meet with different veterans to learn more about their civilian career, how they got there, and what advice they'd give to other military personnel.
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Dec 13, 2017

Why to Listen: 

In episode #133, I dove into original data about how veterans manage to secure a job at the top rated Management Consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. Today, I take this 100 steps further by analyzing data about how veterans enter into a top 10 consulting firm. I look at salary information, as well as how branch of service, length of military service, and length of civilian work experience all impact your future career as a consultant.

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps: 

For this episode I looked at 4,300 LinkedIn Profiles. This includes people who served in the United States Armed Forces, and then worked at some time at one of the top ten Management Consulting Firms as defined by Forbes. We’re going to look at a tremendous amount of data - how long people serve in the military, how long they work prior to consulting, how this affects which consulting firm they work with and at what level.

At the end of this we’re going to get into a lot of salary information. So I always want to provide a disclaimer at the start that there are SO many factors that go into selecting a career - location, fit, community, opportunity for advancement, fulfillment, and work life balance just to name a few. And yes, salary is one of those factors. It is the simplest for me to quantify, so I think it is worth discussing. However, my intention in going through this data is simply to provide you - the veteran community - with more information so that you can make the unique decision that is right for you and for your family. If you have not listened to the first episode in this series - I recommend you check that out. It’s not necessary to listen to that prior to this, but it has other great data relevant to veterans interested in consutling.

More importantly - if you have not pre registered for January 17th online event, Veterans in Consulting - stop what you’re doing right now and do it.

  • Pull over 
  • Get someone to relieve you as Officer of the Deck
  • Go to periscope depth and get a satellite connection
  • Do whatever you have to but go to Beyondtheunifom.io
  • Click on events and Veterans in Consulting
  • And pre-register

That way you’ll get notified as this event comes together. It will be a 75-minute, video conference where I interview 3 different veterans who went directly from Active Duty to a top tier consulting firm. I will be asking about how they got there, what life is like, what work is like, what pay is like, what the snacks are like. Everything you could possibly want to know about a career in consulting, and quite possibly 1-2 things you do not want to know about it.

Additionally, I will open it up to the group for a live Q&A session. You do not want to miss it, so pre-register today. This will be a  paid event - something between $10-15 depending on if we find a sponsor. The reason for the charge is because (1) there is a large body of research showing that people value more that which they pay for, and (2) it does help offset the cost of the BTU show - this is a side project for me, and I’ve managed to rack up quite a bit of expenses in bringing this to life. I want to continue to offer the podcast nd data for free to everyone, but having paid events will help me continue to do this.

Ok - so let’s dive in - to some data

  • Agenda
    • We’ll start by looking at the firms - by total number of veterans - where folks end up
    • Second, we’ll look at the breakdown by branch of service - what that indicates about where veterans end up
    • Third, we will look at time in service - how that impacts one’s career in consulting
    • Fourth, we will look at civilian work experience, and how that affects where one ends up
    • And lastly, we’ll look at titles - which titles veterans tend to gravitate towards at each specific firm
    • If you are interested in how I assembled this data, post in the show notes - i do not want to bore you here
    • But special thanks to mTurk - people who for $0.05 a task, helped me assemble and analyze this data.
    • They save me hundreds of hours, and also cost me hundreds of dollars
    • But it’s very likely that money would have gone to Larkburger’s delicious though not too nutritious burgers, fries, and shakes
    • So it’s not too unlikely that by using this money for this data analysis, I have saved myself years of life, and avoided unnecessary pounds of weight

Let’s start by looking at the firms and where veterans end up. To do this, I’m going to use that Forbes list of the 10 Ten Management Consulting companies:

  • The #1 firm is McKinsey & Company, where 2% of veterans who go into Management Consulting end up
  • The #2 firm is Boston Consulting Group - or BCG - only 1.2% of veterans are able to get in the door there
  • Bain & Company is #3 - where just above half a percent of veterans end up. This was the lowest number of veterans of any of the top ten firms
  • #4 is Deloitte, where there are a lot of veterans. 12.2% of all veterans in consulting end up at Deloitte
  • But that is NOTHING - it just a drop in the bucket - compared to the #5 firm. Booz Allen Hamilton took the lion’s share of all veterans in consulting, with 42% of veterans in consulting working at Booz Allen and Hamilton. 
  • #6 is Price Waterhouse Cooper or PWC, which has about 6% of veterans
  • #7 is Ersnt & Young, also with 6%
  • #8 is Accenture, with 10%
  • #9 is KPMG with only 1.5%
  • and last but certainly not least is IBM, which was the second highest employer with 18% of veterans in the management consulting industry

What should you take away from this 

  • Well less than 4% of all veterans who go into Management Consulting end up at a top 3 firm
  • If that is your aspiration it would be worthwhile to study those who have gone before you and learn from how they got there
  • that was my intention in part 1 of this where I looked at the rare birds who made their way into McKinsey & Company
  • If you are playing the odds, I would be sure to add the more popular firms to your application process - Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture and IBM are all great firms, and have a large veteran population
  • Not only does this mean - statistically - that you have a better chance o working there, but it also means that there is a wealth of knowledge, so many veterans at each of these institutions that can help you understand what it’s like to work there as well as how you might get a job there too

Next, let’s look at branch of service. Of these 4k+ veterans who are working in Management Consulting, where are they coming from:

  • The most - 39% - are coming from the Army
  • followed by the Air Force - at 31%
  • Followed by my team - Navy - team navy is 28%
  • and then Coast Guard and Marine Corps, with 2% and 1% respectively
  • Don’t read too much into this - Coast Guard and Marine Corps are smaller branches in terms of population, so it’s not surprising that their representative number in any industry will be smaller.

I did find it interesting, amongst the branches, to see where each branch spiked in the population of a firm

  • At McKinsey & Company, the Navy is actually the largest population - 44% vs. the Army’s 40% - so take that, Army
  • That was the only deviation that stood out - for the most part, Army is the largest population at the different consulting firms
  • Of note - it is pretty equal distribution at IBM, where it’s pretty much 1/3 1/3 1/3 for army / navy / air force
  • Bain is 51% army - so pretty lopsided
  • And BCG & McKisney had Army & Navy pretty comparable - just about 5% apart, but Air Force represented to a lesser extent here with 18% at Bain and 15% at BCG

Let’s look at length of military service and how that affects one’s career in management Consulting

  • Army leads the charge in terms of numbers in consulting, but is at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to length of service
  • the average Army veteran served for 7.1 years - that was the least amount of service 
  • Navy, Air Force, and Coast guard were pretty event - with 10, 10.3 and 10.5 years of service resepctively
  • And Marines are inspiring me with their patriotism - they serve for 12.3 years on average
  • I do think it would be VERY interesting to look at how length of service correlates to starting title an salary at each company
  • For that I would need a lot more mTurkers and more money so for now - that one will remain a mystery

I also looked at how length of military service affects the Management Consulting firm. Again, using that Forbes ranking of the top 10 let’s look at the numbers:

  • #1 McKinsey - the average veteran served for 6.7 years. This was the 3rd shortest length of service
  • #2 Boston Consulting Group or BCG - this was the 2nd lowest amount of military service, an average of just 6.4 years
  • #3 Bain was the LOWEST length of service - or 5.8 years of service
  • One can theorize as to why this is, but it is clear to me that those veterans working at a top 3 management consulting firm got out of the military earlier than those who did not
  • I have some hypothesis about this
  • One is that - from my McKinsey research it’s clear that an MBA is the most efficient route to a role at one of these three companies
  • I’m guessing that this is easier to do earlier in ones life, where the opportunity cost is lower to go to business school
  • And I’m guessing it is more difficult to do later in ones life - after one has become accustomed to a higher salary in the military, has accumulated more personal life obligations, and is less able to forgo a salary for two years than earlier in life
  • But of course, that is just a theory
  • #4 Deloitte - 8. 1years of service - this is actually the third highest length of service
  • #5 Booz Allen Hamilton - this is the longest length of service 12.8 years on average. So it seems to attract those who have served longer in the military
  • PWC was #6 on Forbes list and the average service here was 7.5 years 
  • EY #7 was 6.8
  • Accenture #8  was 8.1
  • #9 - KPMG was 6.4 years of service
  • and IBM at #10 was 8.4 years of service, which places them as the second longest length of military service
  • What to take away from this
  • I’m not quite sure - share your thoughts in the comments section of the Show notes - would love to have greater minds than mine take a crack at this
  • But the only theory that jumped out to me was about the top 3 firms

Next - I looked at how much civilian work experience veterans had prior to working at in Management Consulting. Again, first we’ll start with branch of service and then break this down by firm

  • Marines had the least amount of civilian work experience prior to going into Management Consulting, that is 3.3 years on average. You’ll remember that they also had the longest length of military service so maybe this accounts for it
  • the US Army had the most civilian work experience prior to consulting time - or 6.6 years of work experience
  • In between was the Coast Guard with just 3.9 years of civilian work experience, the air force with 5.3 years of work experience, and then the Navy with 7.1 years of civilian work experience
  • This made me think - what is the total amount of experience someone has before going into Management Consulting - between military service and then civilian work experience. 
  • So I cut the data one more way and found
  • That the Army has the least amount of combined experience pre-consulting - 13.7 years
  • Coast Guard closely behind that with 14.4 years of exprience
  • The Air Force had 15.6 years
  • The Marine Corps about the same with 15.7
  • and the Navy bringing up the rear with a whopping 17.1 years of experience

I then looked at years of civilian work experience by Consulting firm

  • I found the results comparable to the years of military experience
  • that is the top 3 firms had the lowest amount of service
  • Specifically McKinsey, BCG, and Bain had 2.1, 2.2 and 1.3 years of experience respectively
  • Which, coincidentally is highly correlated to the length of time it takes to obtain an MBA
  • Doillete averaged 7.2 years
  • Booz Allen was surprising - just 2.7 years of work experience. You’ll recall that Booz Allen had the longest length of military service, at 12.7 years. So I would guess that people spend more time on Active Duty prior to working at Booz Allen, but more often go directly from the military to work there. Just a guess.
  • PWC was 4.8 years
  • EY 7.1 years
  • Accenture & KPMG were 7.5 and 7.9 years, respectively
  • And IBM was the longest at 11.1 years of civilian work experience
  • My main takeaways from this were the velocity with which people enter a top 3-firm, and how it seems like it is easier to make a direct transition to Booz Allen than any other firm
  • But again - let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments section of the show notes, and I’ll dig into this further
  • One last thing I wanted to do with this, just as we did with branch of service is take a crack of combined experience - both military and civilian - for each firm.
  • So, looking at the shortest amount of combined experience - both military & civilian - by firm
  • The lowest, with just 7.1 years on average, was Bain & Co
  • Silver medal goes to BCG with 8.6 years
  • and Bronze is McKinsey at 8.9 years of service
  • This is consistent with my hypothesis - the average candidate at these top three firms gets out earlier, and goes to graduate school. Again that is just a theory.
  • the next subset with 4th, 5th, and 6th place goes to PWC with 12.3 years, EY with 13.9 years, and KPMG with 14.3 years of average combined experience.
  • Delloite has an average of 15.4 years
  • Booz Allen at 15.5 yeras
  • Accenture at 15.6 years
  • and finally IBM with the most combined experience, at 19.5 years of combined experience

How are we doing? I know this is al to of numbers to be doing by audio. Before we dive into the final category, I would LOVE to hear your feedback on this sort of information - if it’s helpful, and if it is, how to dive deeper in a way that will help you out. If it is not helpful, any tweaks that would make it more usable.

So finally I looked at Titles and their corresponding salaries according to Glassdoor. So much information here - go to the show notes to see all of it. Note on salary - I looked at total compensation, not just base. Base is what you’re guarantee, total includes performance incentives like bonuses. I also used San Francisco as the office for my search - salaries will obviously vary by location. But this should provide a basic benchmark

Ok - so there are so many different ways to slice and dice this data. Here’s what I did:

  • I looked at the most common titles for military veterans at each of the top 10 consulting firms
  • I then cross referenced this with salary information that is available at Glassdoor.com
  • Then I ranked each firm - by salary, highest to lowest

Take all of this with a grain of salt - there are so many factors that go into this, but here’s what I found

  • The highest salary went to Accenture - the most common title there is Senior Manager, which is $207k
  • Next was McKinsey, BCG, and Bain - these are all comparable around $180k
    • The corresponding titles were Associate at McKinsey & company, and Consultant at both BCG & Bain
  • Next was IBM, where the title was Managing Consultant and a salary of $144k
  • Then Booz Allen Hamilton, the most common title there is Associate and a salary of $132
  • Deloitte was next, with the most common title of Senior Consultant, and a corresponding salary of $127k
  • PWC was 8th, where the most common title is Senior Associate, which has a salary of $104k
  • EY was 9th, the most common title there for veterans is Senior Consultant $102k
  • And last was KPMG with a most common title of Senior Associate and a salary of $91k
  • one final way to look at this data is by looking at those combined years of experience - both military and civilian - and seeing how much money in salary you get per year of experience
  • Seen in this light, the best deal is with Bain, which is the highest at $24k per year of experience
  • With BCG & McKinsey both providing $20.5k per year of experience
  • And Accenture at #4 with $13k per year of experience
  • You can view the full breakdown in the show notes

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