Arthur D. Little – the management consulting firm as old as its name sounds.
As the first management consulting firm, Arthur D. Little lays claim to founding the management consulting industry. The firm also has its DNA in the MBB firms; BCG was founded by former Arthur D. Little consultant Bruce Henderson.
Arthur D. Little prides itself on linking strategy, innovation, and technology together. The firm boasts an entrepreneurial culture and world-class strategy expertise that rival McKinsey, Bain, and BCG.
Read on for the skinny on Arthur D. Little – its’ history practice areas, industries, culture, office locations, interview process, salaries, and more.
Table of Contents:
- Arthur D. Little Key Stats
- Arthur D. Little History
- Arthur D. Little Careers
- Practice Areas
- Office Locations
- Career Path
- Exit Opportunities
- Notable Alumni
- Arthur D. Little Culture
- Arthur D. Little Interviews
- Recruiting Tips
- Arthur D. Little Salary
- Target Schools
- Diversity Programs
Arthur D. Little Key Stats
- Arthur D. Little Website: https://www.adlittle.com/
- Arthur D. Little Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
- Arthur D. Little Employees: Around 1,000 employees
- Arthur D. Little Locations: 40 offices, 29 countries
- Arthur D. Little Chief Executive: Ignacio Garcia Alves (Global CEO)
- Arthur D. Little Revenue: ~$300M
Arthur D. Little History
Arthur D. Little calls itself the first management consulting firm in the world – and it’s true! The history of Arthur D. Little is long and storied, spanning more than 130 years.
The company was founded in 1886 by Arthur Dehon Little as a chemical analysis office in Boston. It became a center for chemical research in the U.S., and in 1911, Little opened a research lab for General Motors. This is credited as the birth of the management consultancy industry.
In 1953, Harvard Business Review published a paper by Little titled, “Operations Research for Management.” This marked the transition of the company’s focus from technical research to management consulting.
In 1957, the company opened its first European office in Zurich, Switzerland. Arthur D. Little today is a stronger brand in Europe than in the U.S., although the company is prioritizing expansion in the U.S. again. Today, the firm has 4 offices in the U.S. and is growing rapidly.
In 2001, Arthur D. Little went through a rough patch rooted in mismanagement of the company’s core business. ADL was forced to file for bankruptcy and was bought out by a French engineering firm, Altran. Altran was later bought out by Capgemini. In 2011, a group of partners organized a management buyout from Altran to form a partnership, and Arthur D. Little became Arthur D. Little once again.
In this period, the firm was focused on the European market, with a smaller presence in LATAM and EMEA.
Arthur D. Little Careers
Looking into an Arthur D. Little career? While Arthur D. Little is smaller and less prestigious than MBB firms, that doesn’t mean it’s a lesser career option. Yes, if status is the only thing you’re worried about, Arthur D. Little ranks lower than the most prominent companies, but many people opt for ADL over bigger firms because of its international reputation, focus on growth projects, and smaller size.
If you work for Arthur D. Little, you can expect to work hard on a variety of strategy and growth-related problems for Fortune 1000 companies across several industries and practice areas.
If you have a degree and/or experience related to analytics, data, or math, you’re a viable candidate for a consulting role at Arthur D. Little. At least in the U.S., the company seems to prefer college graduates with some work/internship experience and is also happy to interview candidates with advanced degrees or MBAs. The company states that it looks for candidates who demonstrate the following:
- Independent thinking, creativity, and entrepreneurialism
- A global perspective and willingness to travel
- The ability to put ideas into action
- The ability to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams
- An aptitude for learning rapidly from new experiences
Arthur D. Little is broken up into 11 practice areas. You can read about each of them at the links below:
- Marketing & Sales
- Organization & Transformation
- Technology & Innovation Management
- Digital Company Transformation
- Digital Problem Solving
- Operations Management
- Corporate Finance
- Information Management
The industries that Arthur D. Little serves are:
- Aerospace & Defense
- Industrial Goods & Services
- Consumer Goods & Retail
- Financial Services
- Healthcare & Life Sciences
- Oil & Gas
- Private Equity
- Public Services
- Telecommunications, Information Technology, Media, & Electronics (TIME)
- Travel & Transportation
- Utilities & Alternative Energy
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Arthur D. Little’s office locations are all over the world. You can find the firm in:
- Argentina (Buenos Aires)
- Austria (Vienna)
- Belgium (Brussels)
- China (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing)
- Colombia (Bogota)
- Czech Republic (Prague)
- France (Paris)
- Germany (Frankfurt, Munich)
- India (Delhi, Mumbai)
- Italy (Milan, Rome)
- Japan (Tokyo)
- South Korea (Seoul)
- Lebanon (Beirut)
- Luxembourg (Luxembourg City)
- Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
- Mexico (Mexico City)
- Norway (Oslo)
- Poland (Warsaw)
- Russia (Moscow)
- Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)
- Spain (Madrid)
- Sweden (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Zurich)
- Thailand (Bangkok)
- The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- Turkey (Istanbul)
- United Arab Emirates (Dubai)
- United Kingdom (Cambridge, London)
- USA (New York, Boston, Houston, San Francisco)
Arthur D. Little’s career path is straightforward and clear. The career trajectory at the firm looks like this:
- Business Analyst – You will structure problems in a team, analyze data, and make actionable recommendations.
- Consultant – You will become an expert in the work of an analyst and move up to managing small projects.
- Manager – You will manage larger projects and budgets and start to dabble in business development.
- Principal – You will manage large, complex projects and consistently acquire new projects.
- Director/Partner – You will contribute to business development, direct projects, care for clients, and bring in new clients.
Arthur D. Little exit opportunities are varied. MBB is a viable exit if you want to stay in strategy consulting. Other folks make a lateral move into a Tier 2 or Tier 3 consultancy (i.e., Oliver Wyman, Kearney, Strategy&). Most, however, move on to roles in corporate strategy, investment banking or in the startup world.
In our mind, the most attractive option is to go to MBB and leverage that experience for an even greater exit further on down the line. But if you’re done with the consulting life, ADL offers you meaningful exit opportunities into industry, especially in the European market.
Arthur D. Little has a long list of notable alumni that have gone on to achieve incredible things. A small sampling:
- Bruce Henderson, Founder of BCG
- Charles Koch, CEO, Koch Industries
- James M. Gavin, US Army Lieutenant General, World War II veteran
- Merrill Cook, former member of the United States House of Representatives from Utah
- Philip Chapman, Astronaut
It should also be noted that Arthur D. Little has an alumni association (similar to MBB) that connects former and current employees with one another. This access to the expanded ADL network is a huge value-add as you pursue what’s next in your career.
Arthur D. Little Culture
Arthur D. Little’s culture is similar to the culture at MBB, with a few notable differences. First, there is less of a competitive internal atmosphere. And while MBB firms are risk-averse in nature, Arthur D. Little, because of its smaller size, makes more space for more entrepreneurial thinking and risk-taking.
What about work-life balance? In general, ADL offers better work-life balance than MBB, but make no mistake: you will be working long, grueling hours and, at times, be expected to work nights and weekends. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Overall, the Arthur D. Little culture is generally friendly and collegial, but that will differ depending on the office and region. The definition of ‘friendly’ is likely different in the Munich office when compared to Houston. The company highlights that it is non-hierarchical and has the feeling of a close-knit family, and employees generally agree.
The other part of workplace culture that the company emphasizes is the space and one-on-one mentorship individual consultants are given to develop their own personalities and working styles.
Arthur D. Little consultants travel a lot. Typical with strategy firms of similar reputation, 4 days out of the office each week is expected, although the aftereffects of the pandemic are changing things even at a firm like ADL. Still, expect a travel-heavy lifestyle when working for ADL.
Arthur D. Little Interviews
The Arthur D. Little interview process is fairly straightforward. The standard Arthur D. Little interview process typically consists of 3-5 interviews. Be prepared for two kinds of interviews: behavioral/fit and case interviews. You will see both types in the same interview round.
The interview process starts with an initial screening of your resume – Arthur D. Little estimates that they make an offer to about 1 person out of every 100. If you pass the screening, you get invited to a Round 0 interview. Let’s break down the ADL interview process:
- Round 0 – A phone screen that typically takes around 1 hour. Expect to be asked some questions about your background before a transition to a market sizing question, which then develops into a full case.
- Round 1 – This consists of 1-2 case interviews. Expect them to revolve around strategy and growth opportunities for businesses (ex: market entry, revenue growth, market sizing).
- Round 2 – Another 1-2 case interviews, with some behavioral questions thrown in. Arthur D. Little loves to test how candidates perform under pressure, so be ready for rapid-fire questions.
In Round 1 or 2, you may get a written or presentation case interview. This will require you to read through a packet of information, analyze data, put your findings into a slide deck, and present your insights to the interviewer(s). Need help preparing for these types of case interviews? Work with our team of MBB consultants today.
Arthur D. Little likes to conduct interviews with a range of people in diverse positions across the company. Interviews are conducted by consultants, HR, recruiting staff, managers, principals, and partners. Interviewers are reported to be friendly and helpful – they are on your team and generally want you to succeed.
When it comes to Arthur D. Little case interview prep, here’s our recommended plan of attack:
- Build a tailored prep plan
- Run through live cases with a partner/expert
- Get brutally honest feedback on your gap areas
- Do drill-based practice on your weaknesses (ex: interpreting charts)
If you need expert help, join Black Belt, our accelerated case prep program. Over 8, 1hr sessions, an expert coach (ex-MBB) will work with you 1:1 to get you interview ready. After building a game plan specific to your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll do drill-based prep on your gap areas before moving into full mock casing. Learn more here.
A few other things to keep in mind during case interviews:
- Listen carefully to the whole question. There might be a small detail that is important to how you answer it!
- If you’re not completely sure about the meaning of something, ask.
- Take time to think if you need to.
- Consider the arc of your whole answer and structure it well.
- Keep in mind that you’re being judged not only on how you answer the questions, but also on your general impression.
Arthur D. Little Salary
The salary you can expect at Arthur D. Little is in line with firms of a similar profile. At the Business Analyst level, the annual base salary starts around $90K. At the post-MBA level, that number ticks up significantly to a ~$150K base salary.
Whether you come from a target school or not, it’s critical that you achieve good grades, that you gain some internship experience (ideally brand name!), and that you display some kind of leadership ability as well. Arthur D. Little looks for evidence on your resume that you’ll be able to cut it at a top management consulting firm.
While diversity is spoken about as a priority at Arthur D. Little, diversity programs aren’t easy to find. Instead, the company talks about its commitment to employees based on three pillars:
- Diversity. The firm is committed to creating a workplace where everyone’s differences and contributions are valued.
- Respect. All employees are entitled to a workplace that encourages respect and dignity. No harassment, bullying or intimidation is permitted.
- Professional development. The principle of fairness is applied to all situations. In addition, everyone has access to development, training, and opportunities for progression, and people receive the same pay for the same performance in each location.
Arthur D. Little isn’t quite at the MBB tier when it comes to management consultancies, but it does check in as a top player out of the rest. The culture and salary, however, can certainly make up for the lack of brand name in the U.S. You may just find yourself happy enough at Arthur D. Little that you won’t want to move on even if you get the opportunity. Work with our expert team for help breaking into Arthur D. Little to land your dream consulting gig!
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