Deloitte Interview – S&O
The companies we cover in our firm profiles are big players in the industry. They show up on all sorts of lists – best company to work for, best place to start a career, etc. But Deloitte’s Strategy and Operations (S&O) Consulting practice seems to enjoy talking about it more than the rest. From their website to their newsletters, from their Careers page to their Facebook presence, they love to talk about the lists they’ve graced and the rankings they’ve achieved. So, are they all talk, or are they really all that?
Sure, Deloitte was named the best place to launch a career by Business Week in 2007 and 2009. Yeah, LinkedIn ranked Deloitte #1 world’s most in demand employer. Okay, so Deloitte was also ranked in the top 5 world’s most attractive employers last year by Universum Global Employer Brand. But are these just glitzy titles, or are they backed by something real? Plus – does the consulting practice rank in all the same ways?
Let’s be clear – Deloitte’s S&O practice is no MBB, and as far as we can tell, they never will be. But if you’re not going to MBB, then Deloitte Strategy & Ops is MC’s pick for your best non-MBB option to launch a career in consulting.
Like we said, they’re likely never going to be a McKinsey, Bain, or BCG – from pay to travel perks to project types to exit opportunities, you won’t find us advising a client to choose Deloitte over MBB. They do, however, have huge things going for them. Excellent compensation, great training programs, and some very interesting projects make Deloitte a legitimate player in the consulting world.
Another thing that makes Deloitte special, and number 1 on our non-MBB list? Consulting experience there won’t exclude you from getting into MBB later on. We’ve worked with several clients who have gone from Deloitte to McKinsey, BCG, or Bain – which is something we can say for only a handful of firms.
Bottom line? Deloitte touts itself as one of the best places to work, and we don’t disagree – but we have quite a lot to say about them.
KEY STATS FOR DELOITTE S&O IN THE U.S.
Website: Deloitte S&O
Headquarters: New York, NY
Size: 2,000 consultants
Locations: 44 U.S. offices
National Managing Director: Mike Canning
Standard Engagement Cost (6 person team for a month): $400K
Get more facts and figures from Deloitte S&O’s “At a Glance” download.
Deloitte was founded in 1845 in London, England by William Welch Deloitte. He was the first person to be appointed as an independent auditor for a public company – the Great Western Railway – and went on to build his credibility and business on the railway and hotel industries.
Deloitte accepted his first partner in 1857 and opened his first overseas office in New York in 1880. After Deloitte’s retirement in 1897, the company started on a long series of partnerships, affiliations, and mergers that continued into the 21st century, not to mention countless name changes. Key persons involved in the growth and direction of the company include George Bailey, George Touche, and Nobuzo Tohmatsu.
The first appearance of a management consulting function at Deloitte was after George Bailey, then president of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, joined the organization in 1947. To further strengthen the company’s consulting business, Deloitte & Touche partners decided to create Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group in 1995. In more recent years, major developments in Deloitte’s consulting business include the purchase of the North American Public Service practice of BearingPoint (formerly KPMG Consulting) in 2009 and their acquisition of Monitor Group earlier this year.
When you think of Deloitte, you usually think of bean counters doing an audit, or suited up professionals from their transaction advisory practice. But Deloitte is a LOT more. They’re a major corporation with almost 200,000 employees across the globe. They are definitely a force to be reckoned with, and an excellent place to start, develop, or end your consulting career.
One of Deloitte’s greatest successes is that they provide the whole suite of services – from auditing to risk to strategy and more. Their breadth also lends to their weakness, however. Sure, they will win one engagement a year from the big dogs – the McKinseys and the Bains – but from the management consulting lens, Deloitte is not a pure strategist, so they don’t stand out as one of the top players, and probably never will.
If you’re pursuing consulting at Deloitte, rest assured that their Strategy & Operations practice (lovingly known as S&O) is a great option for your management consulting career. If you’re currently at Deloitte trying to get into consulting – perhaps you’re an analyst in their risk practice or a manager in their audit practice – your first step should be to transition into Strategy & Ops from your current sector. In either case, a background in Deloitte S&O will set you up for a great career at Deloitte or a launching pad for MBB.
Deloitte has 150+ total offices worldwide. 75 of those have S&O presence.
Deloitte has one of the most consistent global brand names out there, and tons of offices around the world. One of the benefits of working for them is that they make possible a lot of inter country transfers. If you’re a non-U.S. resident looking to work in consulting in the U.S., transitioning from a foreign Deloitte office to one of their U.S. location is an excellent way to do that.
Not only are they everywhere – and we mean everywhere (Deloitte S&O is currently hiring for a Public Sector Higher Education Senior Consultant in the town of Harrisburg, PA where you won’t find any other major consulting firms) – they have very big offices. The downside of this is that there isn’t a lot of interconnectedness within the office; the upside is that in terms of lifestyle and raising a family, there are a lot of options in terms of where you can live.
Deloitte is quirky in that it’s probably one of the most common firms that people go back to after leaving and working somewhere else. You’d rarely see someone return to MBB after a career on the outside – it just doesn’t happen. Why is Deloitte different? They have a strong global network and they’re open to rehiring people later in their career. In fact, Deloitte is very clear that, in contrast to MBB, theirs is not an “up or out” culture – because they have so many options for consultants to tailor-make a career, they emphasize that the firm is a great place to grow a whole career - not just to get training for a future as a CEO.
To understand Deloitte S&O consulting better, we thought it helpful to lay out where the practice fits in the bigger planet of Deloitte. First, the umbrella firm – which we’ll fondly call Big Daddy Deloitte, is the parent company that encompasses the firm’s entire global operation. Big Daddy Deloitte boasts 193,000 employees, offices in 150+ countries, and revenues of US $31.3B.
Within Big Daddy Deloitte, there are 4 tribes – Tax, Audit, Financial Advisory and Consulting. Each of these firms are separate legal entities and are managed and owned by a partner group – some of the best-paid partners in the world, might we add.
Deloitte Consulting is further broken down into 3 sectors: Human Capital, Strategy & Operations, and Technology. Most management consulting candidates are focused on Strategy & Operations – which is broken down into these 6 areas:
- Infrastructure Operations
- M&A Restructuring
- Supply Chain and Manufacturing Operations
- Service Operations
You’ll notice that practices at Deloitte, in contrast to MBB, are organized less by industry and more by function. Why is this? It has to do with who Deloitte is selling to. While MBB firms are focused on CEOs and reorganizing entire businesses, Deloitte focuses on a level below that – a particular function, like accounting/finance, HR, or operations. That means Deloitte is usually talking to someone at the VP level, a level below the C-suite. If they are working with C-level clients, the clients are often heading up operating units, portfolio companies or organizations beyond the Fortune 500.
It’s important here to note that Deloitte’s tax and auditing practice dominates in the Fortune 500 segment – just so you can begin to navigate who’s who in the Deloitte zoo. It’s also important to know that, while Deloitte’s other practices are technically a part of the same company, if you’re aiming for S&O but not there yet, you’d much rather be in one of the other Deloitte Consulting practices – Technology or Human Capital – than in a separate legal entity (like Audit) altogether. The transfer possibilities, which we’ll talk about later, will be much easier – and the skill sets will be highly transferable.
Undergrads come in as Analysts while MBAs and APDs will usually come in as Consultant. After that, you progress to Senior Consultant, Manager, Senior Manager, and finally Principal/Director.
One exit opportunity is internal – you can move to a different area in Deloitte. Like we’ve said, there are tons of locations, a variety of practices, and a breadth of opportunities to explore within the business. Other firms aren’t big enough to offer such variety; there’s just not enough space. At BCG, for example, if you become an expert in something, you’re going to become more and more specialized in that area. The only direction you can go – at all of the MBBs – is up or out. A note about inter-Deloitte transfers, however – it’s really important that you try as hard as you can to start where you want to end – so if you want to go to S&O, apply there – the firm’s party line is that you can’t switch (we understand this, but have anecdotal evidence to the contrary).
There’s nothing super surprising about the other exit options, including career consulting (going to MBB or a boutique firm), moving to a start-up, or working in strategy for Fortune 500s. There is something, however, that you’re less likely to do when you leave Deloitte as compared to MBB – you won’t find yourself in private equity, and this is a pretty popular option for alumni from the top echelon.
Notable Deloitte alum
- Orin C. Smith – CEO of Starbucks
- Abby Noble – Head, Latin America and Africa, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and World Economic Forum
- Allison McGee – VP Health Plan Services and Strategic Development, Health Data Management Solutions
- Rick Vanzura – Executive VP and Co-COO, Panera Bread
- Kate Zhou – Founder and CEO, Kate Zhou Handbags
- Ken Zeff – COO, Green Dot Public Schools
- Omar Douglas – Director of Organizational Effectiveness, General Mills
- Art Martinez – Deputy Director, Strategic Planning & Portfolio Management, Global Health Policy & Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Fred Goodwin – CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland
- Sergio Marchionne – CEO of Fiat
- Bill Owens – 40th Governor of Colorado
- Pierre Pettigrew – Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Peter Cosgrove – Chief of the Australian Defence Force
- Allison McGourty – Founder of Lo-Max Records
- Sam Morgan – Founder of TradeMe
Terms we associate with Deloitte are “ethics,” “integrity,” and “code of conduct” – that’s probably due to their foundation in accounting and auditing. What we don’t associate Deloitte with is “entreprenuership,” “innovation,” and “out of the box.” This isn’t to say you won’t find Deloitte consultants who have these characteristics – it’s just that the firm in general isn’t known for these things. Instead, they’ve built a name for themselves by doing things consistently and delivering on time. Whereas a CEO would hire thought leaders from MBB to come in and turn a company around, a VP of Supply Chain would hire Deloitte to come in and deliver an operations solution that works because it’s been done again and again.
While they’re not necessarily creative, Deloitte consultants are very good financial modelers. They don’t do as much one-on-one customer research as an MBB consultant would, but their modeling skills rock. MBB recruiters know this and know that they can build on the training foundation Deloitte is so good at offering its consultants; if a consultant can think outside the box as well, the rest can be taught.
Like any consulting firm, Deloitte offers great benefits and perks, plenty of opportunity to learn and grow, and lots of travel. In fact, while MBB usually runs on 4-days-a-week with Fridays in the home office, because of Deloitte S&O’s operational nature the firm is on a standard 5-day-a-week travel program - so they push the travel-heavy end of the spectrum.
When it comes to local office culture – a huge draw at places like Bain – Deloitte fails the test. Because they’re so gigantic – you’ll find 1000 people at a Deloitte office and 50-100 at a typical BCG office – local office culture and connectivity are almost non-existent at Deloitte. The repercussions extend to a weaker mentoring/coaching environment and no clear bond among Deloitte alum.
Think of it like the difference between going to Harvard vs. UT Austin for undergrad. At Harvard you can vouch for the caliber of your classmates – you have similar academic backgrounds, you took similar coursework to graduate, and you get to know one another on the small campus. When you meet another Harvard grad, you “get” each other. At UT Austin, on the other hand, you’ve got a huge variety of fellow students alongside you at college – from cheerleaders and professional athletes, all the way up to individuals pursuing their Ph.Ds in Astrophysics.
DELOITTE INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING
Deloitte case interviews are not as quantitative or as long as MBB case interviews. That is, if you’re using MBB as a standard for case practice, you’ll be well-prepared in a Deloitte interview. Expect at most 2 quantitative cases at a max of 30 min (more often around the 20 minute mark), and a heavy emphasis on market sizing – with an even heavier emphasis on fit questions.
Interviewers at Deloitte are usually more interested in your up front structure and your answer as opposed to your mental math and quantitative horsepower. Interviews are most similar to Mark Cosentino’s Case in Point, which – while not the best prep step out there for MBB interviews – is a great DIY resource for Deloitte case interview prep.
You can find lots of information about Deloitte’s internship program on their website – including Q&As, opportunities, and, of course, accolades the firm has received (they were listed among Vault’s top 10 internships in 2011). While Deloitte closes fewer consultants from its internship program for full-time hires (many prospects use a Deloitte S&O summer as a launching pad to banking or MBB consulting), the summer is a top internship for other reasons – good projects and great training. The firm also offers a variety of case competitions and conferences for undergrads, MBAs, and other advanced degrees – all great ways to get to know the company culture and gain consulting experience.
Deloitte also offers a 1 month pre-MBA internship – consisting of 1 week of training and 3 weeks working on a project. This is a great opportunity for people who want to feel out consulting before fully committing, and of course, an excellent way to beef up your resume. According to a recent client we worked with, the interview process for the pre-MBA internship consists of 3 fit interviews and 1 case interview, with a focus on demonstrating clear communication, confidence, and structured thinking (no surprise!). Read his whole story here.
At the end of the day, Deloitte is going to hire in a big way from second tier schools – those schools that fall 20-50 in the major undergrad college rankings, like big state schools, and the top 5-20 MBA programs. They will also hire from top schools, like the Ivies, and from Harvard and Stanford, but they’re not necessarily going to hire the very top performers/leaders from those schools. For example, Deloitte S&O will attract the president of a sorority but not the president of the class.
Deloitte S&O does most of its recruiting out of these schools:
Brigham Young University
Chicago Booth School of Business
Columbia Business School
*Duke’s Fuqua School of Business
Harvard Business School
Kellogg School of Management
MIT Sloan School of Management
McCombs Schools of Business
Michigan Ross School of Business – Graduate Program
Michigan State University
New York University
Texas A&M University
Wharton School at U Penn
University of Illinois
University of Michigan
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
University of Texas Austin
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re at a Deloitte target school (or if you’re curious about international target schools), check their website here.
*Duke Fuqua is one of the biggest schools that Deloitte pulls from. We loved how one of our clients termed it: “Deloitte owns Duke.” And it goes both ways – Deloitte feeds Fuqua with MBA candidates and on the flip side hires MBAs from Fuqua. It’s a win-win (if you go to Duke!).
Deloitte offers informational sessions at many of these schools – don’t miss them! They are key opportunities for face-time with recruiters and consultants. Get your resume ready before you go – there’s nothing worse than showing up unprepared and without a plan of attack. If you need help, learn about our resume editing service or email us. We offer a FREE resume screen to consulting candidates and our MC subscribers.
Recruiters are given a lot of power at Deloitte. They’re the ones who are primarily responsible for hiring – unlike at MBB firms, where the partners are major decision-makers for hiring and the recruiters are more administrators of the process. Because Deloitte S&O is so big, recruiters have to be the gatekeepers – otherwise, total chaos would ensue.
Build a relationship early and often with recruiters – at career fairs, conferences, and events. If you know people at Deloitte, get the insider scoop on which offices are most attractive (read: which offices are hiring). It’s a different process to MBB firms, where they either want you or not, and office location has a slight element of strategy to it but is really secondary.
Networking still plays an important role at Deloitte, but it’s more for gathering information rather than getting the interview. We’ve known people who have been recommended for a position at Deloitte by senior partners – after 2-3 informational sessions and a resume review – but were turned down in a recruiter review, with no partner recourse.
The point here is that your application is everything at Deloitte. Make sure it’s air-tight before sending it off to the eagle eyes of their recruiters. If you need help, we’re here – you can always work with us for the best chance.
Diversity groups at Deloitte are called ”Business Resource Groups.” Here’s a list of the main groups offered at Deloitte:
- Ability First & Allies BRG (Ability BRG)
- Armed Forces & Allies BRG
- Asian-American Alliance & Allies BRG (ABRG)
- Black Employee Network & Allies BRG (BEN)
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Employees and Allies (GLOBE and Allies BRG)
- Hispanic/Latino(a) Employee Network & Allies BRG (HNet)
- International Network & Allies BRG (International BRG)
- Women’s Initiative
As with other firms, networking inside these groups is a huge bonus – shared interests/backgrounds are great conversation starters.
We’ll wrap up with some quick links to all the Deloitte articles on the MC site, as well as Twitter handles, key reading for Deloitte-ians and Deloitters-to-be, and more. Enjoy!
- Getting a pre-MBA internship at Deloitte
- The secret to leveraging Deloitte experience for M/B/B
- How to land offers at Deloitte from a completely non-technical background
- Why a top undergrad chose Deloitte over PwC and Towers Perrin
- Cover letter advice from a Deloitte consultant
- Salaries at Deloitte
More Deloitte stuff:
Subscribe to Deloitte’s Careers Newsletter
- The Innovator’s Manifesto
- Pricing and Profitability Management: A Practical Guide for Business Leaders
- Brand Resilience
- The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work
- The Power of Pull
- Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating the Risk Intelligent Enterprise
- If We Can Put a Man on the Moon… Getting Big Things done in Government
The Real Deal - Perspectives on life as a Strategy & Operations business analyst at Deloitte Consulting LLP.
iDeas (Deloitte Canada blog)
Deloitte Twitter handles:
Deloitte Facebook pages:
A sample of Deloitte presentations on Slideshare: