Altman Solon: Interviews and Culture

A strategy consulting firm that works with seven of the top 10 global telecom companies, seven of the top 10 global technology companies, and six of the top 10 global media firms but is still intimate enough for employees to know their colleagues and interact meaningfully with top management? That may sound like a unicorn, but Altman Solon is a very real strategy consulting firm.

Altman Solon is the world’s largest strategy consulting firm adviser focused exclusively on Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT). It is also the fastest growing TMT-focused firm, with 12 offices in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Altman Solon’s worldwide team is united in its intellectual curiosity for highly dynamic industries and their contributions to economies and societies around the globe.

Altman Solon’s laser focus on these vibrant sectors – representing a $5+ trillion global market – provides unique opportunities for the firm’s consultants to help the world’s most innovative companies navigate a market with remarkable technological innovations, business model disruptions, and numerous other critical challenges and opportunities.

Altman Solon works with market leaders, challenger brands, and investors across TMT sectors and supports its clients in identifying, developing, and implementing new market entry approaches, business strategies, digital innovation and global M&A. Altman Solon helps its investor clients understand markets, conduct due diligence, and make high-stakes decisions with confidence.

The firm is also known for its meritocratic approach to hiring and promotions, and for supporting career pathways that lead to rewarding opportunities within and outside the company. Altman Solon believes that diversity, equity and inclusion are key principles for the successful operation of any business and is committed to ensuring that all employees, at all levels, feel supported, feel a sense of belonging, and are equally invested in the success of its shared work. Altman Solon works to ensure that it draws the most talented people from all backgrounds – and supports them with great compensation and benefits, unique mentoring, and a collaborative culture.

Altman Solon’s staff is composed of a global team of TMT enthusiasts and thought leaders who work together to create customized solutions that enable clients to weather new economic conditions and benefit from the technological innovations that define TMT.

Altman Solon’s team structure brings together industry experts, consultants, and data analysts from across the globe to apply their experience and skills to create real-world solutions for its clients. Multi-national teams and international clients are the norm for Altman Solon. Their consultants possess a unique combination of understanding the critical factors in TMT and applying proven analytical capabilities to help clients meet and exceed their business objectives. Its team has identified, developed, and implemented some of the most significant strategies shaping the TMT sector over the past 20 years and has worked for clients in more than 100 countries.

ALTMAN SOLON KEY STATS

  • Altman Solon Website: https://www.altmansolon.com/
  • Altman Solon Headquarters: Boston, MA
  • Altman Solon Employees: 400+
  • Altman Solon Locations: 12 total; 5 North American Offices (Boston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City and San Francisco), 5 European Offices (London, Milan, Munich, Paris, and Warsaw), 2 APAC Offices (Singapore and Sydney)
  • Altman Solon Chief Executives: Rory Altman and Patrick Bellenbaum
  • Altman Solon Revenue: $50M+
  • Altman Solon Engagement Cost: $400K

ALTMAN SOLON HISTORY

Altman Solon emerged out of the 2020 merger of two of the largest TMT focused management consulting companies in the world, Altman Vilandrie & Company (AV&Co.) and Solon Management Consulting. Both consultancies have similar histories and worked in partnership for many years before their merger.

Solon Management Consulting’s history goes back to 1996, when it launched in Munich, Germany. At the time of the merger, Solon operated in London, Milan, Munich, Paris, and Warsaw. Altman Vilandrie & Company started in 2002 in Boston, and expanded with offices New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Following the merger in 2020, Altman Solon opened offices in Mexico City and Singapore, and merged with Venture Consulting, the largest TMT specialist consulting firm in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2020, after a decade of partnership across the Atlantic, Altman Vilandrie & Company and Solon Management Consulting merged to form Altman Solon. The merger was spearheaded by Rory Altman (Altman Vilandrie & Company) Founder & Managing Director) and Patrick Bellenbaum (Solon Managing Director). Rory co-founded Altman Vilandrie & Company in 2002 in Boston with Ed Vilandrie. The firm initially focused on Telecom before expanding to cover Media and Technology. Solon Consulting was formed in Munich in 1996 by Tilman Rhein, Martin Weiss, and Hubertus von Wulffen. Solon’s first strategy projects were in the nascent internet and digital media space. It was the beginning of a series of international projects in the booming mobile communications industry.

In 2021, Altman Solon acquired Venture Consulting, the largest TMT specialist consulting firm in Australia and New Zealand. Whew! Did you get all of that?

ALTMAN SOLON ORGANIZATION

Altman Solon is a partnership, consisting of 29 partners from around the world with expertise in every nook and cranny of TMT. Rory Altman and Patrick Bellenbaum each play the role of Managing Partner for the firm. It is a partnership without any outside investors, providing the flexibility to make long term investments that benefit its firm and clients.

Altman Solon is a relatively “flat” organization that provides significant autonomy to project teams to make the best recommendations for their clients. Junior staff members get immediate exposure to partners and are provided early opportunities to take on project responsibilities, accelerating their career development. The firm staffs projects with a focus on client needs and career development objectives, empowering staff who are interested global project opportunities.

Though Altman Solon services clients from all offices, some offices were born from particular focuses: San Francisco was created to better serve the company’s west coast clients and to develop a stronger base in the region by capitalizing on the tech industry boom in Silicon Valley; the New York City office emgerged from the need to have an office in the financial capital of North America; and a more recent geographical focus, in Los Angeles, will help expand the firm’s footprint in the Media & Entertainment space.

Munich covers Central and Western Europe as well as the Nordics, while London focuses on the UK market and investors. Warsaw largely covers Eastern Europe, with Paris and Milan mainly focusing on their country markets. Altman Solon is growing in APAC with a new office in Singapore and through the acquisition of Venture Consulting, based out of Sydney. The Mexico City office serves clients throughout Latin America.

The teams at Altman Solon cover a wide variety of languages including English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, etc.

Altman Solon’s staffing is not national but international by design. In fact the form always brings the best people to its clients leading to a large number of projects being staffed internationally thus also creating a diverse and interesting team environment.

As an industry-focused firm, the spectrum of projects the firm’s staff works on is predictable and provides the opportunity to dive deep into particular topic areas. Team members develop faster expertise in one of the world’s fastest-growing industry subsegments – an attractive value proposition for rich learning. 

Altman Solon’s lack of hierarchy and a focus on individual accomplishments (instead of comparative performance) for promotions, helps to foster a collegial work environment. When COVID-19 guidelines allow, employees of all levels enjoy social activities together such as happy hour, an annual ski trip, and other fun events. A common refrain from alums and current employees is that the co-workers are the best part of working at Altman Solon.

Industries and Practice Areas

Altman Solon primarily services three industries:

  • Telecommunications
  • Media
  • Technology

Strategy – Altman Solon advises its clients at board or shareholder level providing executive recommendations to decision makers. We develop solutions based on our thought leadership and experience as well as based on comprehensive data analysis. Once a strategy has been approved, Altman Solon regularly supports clients through the implementation phase to ensure success.

Go to Market – As something that is particularly important in TMT, Altman Solon helps clients identify the demand for products and helps with product and service development. Altman Solon has extensive expertise including: product development, pricing, marketing and sales restructuring, establishing operations, and managing the critical first weeks after the launch of a new product or service offering.

Operations – Altman Solon combines operational capabilities with strategic thinking, technical know-how, and advanced analytics. Altman Solon consultants use deep quantitative skills to understand, analyze, and improve their clients’ operations, covering everything from improvements in sales compensation, advertising spend, pricing, infrastructure upgrades, and network deployment.

Capital Markets – Altman Solon is the trusted advisor of the leading sources of private and public capital for TMT, from early growth to mature company lifecycles across a wide range of equity and credit investment vehicles. They have supported international transactions in all TMT industries, with target valuations ranging from tens of millions to tens of billions of dollars.

Office Locations

Altman Solon has offices in all the cities around the world that you’d want to live in. Whether you seek the hustle and bustle of New York City, London or Singapore, the food and culture in Paris or Mexico City, or the beach-side waves in Los Angeles or Sydney, Altman Solon has offices in these, and many more, cities.

While progression and entry points vary ever so slightly depending on office location, if you work at Altman Solon, here is what you can expect your career progression to be:

Analyst – (typical entry point out of undergrad). As an Analyst you are integrated into your project teams from day one. You will quickly take on independent tasks, including analyses, research, and surveys, and will support the creation of presentations to communicate your insights. You will be an active member of team meetings and involved in day-to-day client communication. You will have a Career Adviser who will oversee your development throughout your career, and will have opportunities to join internal initiatives and make an immediate impact on the life of the firm.

Consultant – (If you’ve had some experience in the field, but not an MBA or equivalent, you’ll typically be hired into this position. Networking experienced hires get placed here. You can also get promoted to this role from the Analyst position.) As a Consultant you have a leading role in delivering successful projects. You will be responsible for the execution of a key project workstream, ranging from complex business modelling to research that requires a high degree of expertise. You will identify key insights from your work and create and deliver presentations that communicate them to the client team, who will see you as a key contact. You will play a crucial role supporting the development of Analysts, and will make contributions to the firm outside of project work, through trainings, committees, or other firm-building activities.

Senior Consultant – Got an MBA or 4+ years of strategy consulting/other relevant experience? This one is for you (it is possible to be directly promoted from Consultant without going to get an MBA). As a Senior Consultant your management responsibilities will increase, and you will oversee a complete workstream on your project. On larger projects you may lead 1-3 Analysts and Consultants through the process of identifying the client’s key questions, formulating hypotheses, structuring complex analyses, drawing conclusions, and creating a cohesive story. You may be in regular communication with the client and will take an important role in client interactions and presentations. You will continue to have the opportunity to take leadership and mentorship roles within the firm.

Manager – (Typically looking for 4+ years post MBA experience and/or another relevant advanced degree with a specific background in TMT.) As a Manager you are responsible for the end-to-end success of a full project team. You will lead Analysts, Consultants, and Senior Consultants from hypothesis generation through analysis and presentations. You will independently draw conclusions from your team’s work, and you’ll create storylines and presentation outlines to communicate them. You will manage the client relationship independently, with some support from your Principal or Director. You have a strong leadership role at the firm, including developing junior staff and contributing to the firm’s direction.

Principal – As a Principal you are accountable for end-to end project delivery across multiple teams and will demonstrate functional expertise and thought leadership in a wide range of relevant topics. You will also begin to develop your own business together with Directors and Partners. You will expand your own network and build relationships with key client stakeholders, growing into a trusted advisor role with key client decision makers. You will also have a significant leadership role in the firm and make significant contributions to the development of the firm’s people and programs.

As for internships, Altman Solon offers summer internships (a 10-week long process that’s open to undergraduate juniors). Good grades, leadership, and an interest in TMT are non-negotiable. As an Intern at Altman Solon, you’ll typically work on one or more projects at a time. You will be integrated in a project team and will be supported by experienced consultants who are by your side during your entire time at the firm.

Undergraduates typically join the firm as Analysts. Either on return offers from summer internships, or outright, post undergraduate graduation. MBAs typically join the firm as Senior Consultants. Either on return offers from summer MBA internships, or outright, post MBA graduation.

Exit opportunities

Analysts and Consultants rapidly develop valuable expertise that opens many opportunities for them. Often Analysts stay with the firm to advance on to a Consultant role or attend a top business school. Alums from all levels of the firm have also gone on to exciting and challenging careers in the TMT industry and investment funds – ranging from CEOs of established firms to founders of successful start-ups.

If you’re applying to the firm with the hopes of transitioning into pure corporate strategy later on, it’s a great plan. It’s actually quite difficult to get a job within a corporate strategy team right out of most technology-focused firm because they’ll feel as though you won’t be able to see the bigger picture, but at Altman Solon you’re focused on strategy and operations for tech firms, not tech work – so it’s a whole different story.

If you think you’d like to spend a significant proportion of your life doing TMT work, however, then Altman Solon may not be only a good option – it may just be the perfect firm for you.

Another thing we should note is the possibility of taking that step into the tech startup world. If you haven’t realized, tech start-ups are taking over the world right now. Couple this with the oft-quoted fact that one year in consulting is worth three years in industry, then working for a good TMT consulting company like Altman Solon may very well open up some very exciting doors in the future.

Altman Solon alumni move on to the most interesting and influential companies in TMT and other industries. Some of the example North American companies and organizations Altman Solon alums are helping to lead include: Amazon, American Express, Blue Apron, Bullhorn, Cisco, Comcast, Disney, Ericsson, Google, Hubert Burda Media, Major League Baseball (MLB), Microsoft, Netflix, PlayStation, Peloton, Sky Networks, Spotify, Square, TripAdvisor, Turn, Uber, US Congress, and Wayfair.

Notable alumni

Notable North American alums include:

  • Rashmi Melgiri – Co-founder at CoverWallet
  • Tal Itzkovich – CFO at Tastemade
  • Ruby Tamberino – Head of Strategy at BAI Communications
  • Adam Cohen-Aslatei – CEO/Founder of S’More Date
  • Charles Worthington – CTO U.S. Department Veteran’s Affairs
  • Madison Rezaei – VP of Strategy at Verizon
  • Michael Grossi – CEO HealthSource
  • Ethan Lubka – Director, Head of Business Product at Instagram
  • Christine Edmonds – Partner at ICONIQ
  • Peter Gudaitis – Manager, Content Strategy & Analysis at Netflix
  • Kate Rodriguez – SVP, Strategy and Market Development at Wyyerd Group
  • Chen-Chen Huo – Commander in Cheese, MAC’D
  • Swaroop S Kumar – YouTube Product Manager
  • Ninad Naik – Amazon Alexa Head of Product and Business
  • James Collins – Director of Finance at Disney Streaming Services, focused on ESPN+
  • Baratunde Thurston – NYT bestseller, Emmy nominated host
  • Noam Maital – CEO at Waycare
  • Martin Weiss – Board member at Hubert Burda Media, CEO at Burda Principal Investments

ALTMAN SOLON CULTURE

Altman Solon has five core values: develop client trust, produce outstanding and innovative advice, develop people, act with integrity, and treat everyone with respect.

Altman Solon is a meritocracy. It’s a place where you don’t compete with your colleagues for promotions; you compete against yourself. If you can show you’re good enough, you’ll get the promotion. It’s not about how long you’ve been there, it’s just about how good you are.

From our interactions with representatives from the firm, we’ve felt that Altman Solon is truly committed to its culture and values. As a function of its still reasonable size, and meritocratic culture, it’s very easy to affect change within the organization, and to speak up if your experience is straying from your individual goals.

Current and former employees describe their colleagues as some of the smartest people they’ve met, worked with, and learned from. The firm does an incredible job recruiting and retaining strong performers, creating an incredibly bright, hardworking, and driven firm.

The culture and low-travel model foster strong working relationships with your colleagues, with many analysts vacationing together, seeing each other at weddings well after people have potentially left the firm. Altman Solon’s culture is a lot like gaining a lot of incredibly driven and bright friends and family.

As with any consulting job, the hours can be long and the work is challenging in nature (you’ll be working primarily on strategy and due diligence projects). However, your salary, which is in line with other top firms, is a great offset. Altman Solon provides stellar service to its clients but is also uniquely attractive to its consultants since it is a low travel firm. While other consultants may be away on projects from Monday to Thursday every week, Altman Solon staff members do most of their work from their offices, unless a client requests that they travel. This allows for staff to maintain personal lives at home without always being on the road, and to develop strong relationships with their colleagues in their home offices.

While Altman Solon team members are in constant connection – in person and virtually – with its clients, the firm, by design, doesn’t do the typical M-T consulting travel. You’ll typically find yourself working out of your home office, or potentially flying to another Altman Solon office to work with a project team primarily based out of that location, should that help the project. It’s not uncommon for the team to travel to the client for final presentations, in-person client workshops, etc.

On occasion, clients request an in-person presence, and Altman Solon will have team members on-site throughout the project, however this is not the typical project experience.

People choose Altman Solon for its industry focus, its unparalleled level of technical expertise, impressive global client roster, and opportunities to work with talented colleagues from around the world. Altman Solon is also the fastest growing TMT-focused firm in the world. However, those who value name brands may choose to work for a competitor, given that Altman Solon is still a growing brand name.

Mentorship is very present at Altman Solon. Upon joining, you’re given a career advisor (CA) who is a member of the Altman Solon management team and serves as a mentor as your career advances. Your CA helps you become your personal best, by maximizing your strengths and creating strategies that address your development areas. New hires are also given a buddy, typically someone with 1-2 years more of firm experience, to help them with their adjustment to the firm. This person is a great resource for all questions that new hires might have, both pertaining to work as well as the firm and its culture.

The firm places a high emphasis on personal and professional development. To ensure a successful start, your onboarding will include training sessions on consulting tools and TMT industry-specific knowledge. New hires are assigned to a more senior staff member, who they effectively shadow over a period of several months in an apprentice-type role. Within your first year, you will deepen your knowledge through a 1-week off-site training with new consultants from all offices. You will get to know your peers, exchange knowledge and experiences, attend industry primers, and work on several case simulations.

That’s just the beginning: throughout the year, there are numerous training days that will enhance both your personal and professional skills including: targeted skills meant to help you on projects (SQL training, survey coding, Excel skills, etc.) as well as things meant to help you develop yourself professionally (effective work life balance seminars, project management trainings, and coaching and mentoring spotlights).  At Altman Solon’s regular meetings in every office, you will learn about current projects, see how internal processes are developing, and hear about current firm economics and initiatives.

Last but not least, the firm looks to provide its staff opportunities to move around the firm’s global offices through office transfers. Additionally, the firm has an active pro-bono practice where it typically works with non-profits across the TMT sector. Recent pro-bono work has included work with an AI & Data driven social start-up using data to help cities prevent homelessness, as well as working alongside a nonprofit technology company committed to transforming prison communications.

ALTMAN SOLON INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING

Altman Solon’s made it their mission to recruit the brightest and most collaborative people. With members of the firm coming from all corners of the world, with diverse backgrounds, they are unified in their commitment to excellence and integrity.

Altman Solon looks for people with exceptional performance, both in their studies and in their profession. There are no majors/degrees that they look for in particular, however a firm grasp of problem solving, analytical skills, and seamless communication skills are important for success in the application process.

Here’s what the interview process looks like:

  • Round 0 – A phone interview if you’re an employee referral. This will be a screening interview with HR.
  • Round 1 – An on-campus interview for students or a phone interview for employee referrals who cannot be interviewed in one of the offices. In this interview, you can expect mostly behavioral and fit type questions like “Why do you want to be a consultant? Why Altman Solon?” etc. You should also be prepared to do a case in this round.
  • Round 2 – This interview will take place in one of Altman Solon’s offices (or virtual) and is pretty intense. Here, you’re going to have multiple interviews, each conducted by tenured and sometimes very senior staff. In terms of the interviews themselves, you can expect to be put through the wringer when it comes to the cases, so again it’s vital you’re at the top of your game if you want to make it through.

Pro tip: Altman Solon cases are often very quantitative in nature, so you’ll need to get used to providing data driven suggestions if you want to succeed. Also, expect cases primarily from the TMT sector – focus specifically on these areas once you know you have an interview with Altman Solon.

It’s not just the cases – there will also be a fit portion to the Round 2 interview as well. Something to remember about senior staff – they aren’t necessarily going to have a list of boxes they need to tick before they can pass you. The scoring in firms like Altman Solon is based on a whole host of factors, and whether they feel like you’re a “yes” or a “no”, so you definitely want to impress them in this round.

The good news for those of you who like to rise and fall on your own merits? All cases at Altman Solon are individual – there are no group cases here. 

Interviews are conducted by a mix of recruiting staff (1st round screener) and tenured staff at your level or above. Each candidate will also interview with a senior member of management ahead of being potentially extended an offer. 

Typically, cases run between 30-45 minutes depending on the length of the interview, and what round you’re in.

Altman Solon cases tend to be a bit more interviewer led, but don’t rely on the interviewer to guide you at each step – candidates should take responsibility for managing time and moving the process along.

Altman Solon Target Schools

The list is short in sweet, reflecting an intelligently focused recruiting strategy:

U.S:

Undergraduate Programs

  • Brown University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Yale University

MBA Programs

  • Johnson School of Management, Cornell University
  • Harvard Business School
  • Sloan School of Management, MIT
  • Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College
  • The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
  • Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern

Europe:

  • École Polytechnique, France
  • HEC Paris, France
  • Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Università Bocconi, Italy
  • London School of Economics, GB
  • University of Cambridge, GB
  • University of Oxford, GB
  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Germany
  • Universität Mannheim, Germany
  • Technische Universität München, Germany
  • Warsaw School of Economics, Poland

However, the firm does take employee referrals from candidates who attended similar schools, so network your booty off if you are interested but they don’t recruit on your campus.

Diversity Programs

Altman Solon is committed to maintaining a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace, with four different affinity groups that sit under the umbrella of their DIVE (Diversity, Inclusion, Visibility, and Equity) committee.

  • Women at Altman Solon (WAS): Women at Altman Solon is committed to closing the gap of female representation by encouraging, supporting, and mentoring women at all stages in their career. The firm provides an internal network where employees, clients, and other professionals can address the unique dynamics for women in their careers at Altman Solon and beyond.
  • LGBTQ+ (Plus): Altman Solon’s LGBTQ+ affinity group, Plus, aims to develop an LGBTQ+ community at Altman Solon, complete with strong connections and personal & professional mentorship. By raising awareness of LGBTQ+ events and milestones, as well as issues specific to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual communities, Plus strives to support a workplace where everyone is comfortable being themselves.
  • First-Gen/Low-Income (FGLI): Altman Solon believes that diverse experiences are key to a thriving workplace and is committed to making consulting an accessible career option for students of all backgrounds. The Altman Solon FGLI (First Generation/Low-Income) initiative seeks to increase the accessibility of consulting careers for FGLI students with numerous training and recruiting initiatives.
  • Racial & Ethnic Diversity: The firm’s mission is to encourage and support an inclusive and racially diverse firm culture that celebrates diverse voices and perspectives of its employees. It strives to create an environment for all employees, regardless of race or ethnicity, to contribute their authentic selves to the Altman Solon culture. The firm believes this will lead to a stronger experience for all employees and allow it to best serve its diverse client base.

Additional Reading

Altman Solon Social Media

Filed Under: Consulting Firms