Alvarez & Marsal Interviews and Culture


 

ALVAREZ & MARSAL CONSULTING

Alvarez & Marsal have been making waves in recent years for the high profile, high quality work they did in the midst of the banking crisis. We’re sure most of you heard about Lehman Brothers filing for the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history. But can you guess which firm was hired as their bankruptcy consultants? Or who was appointed as interim CEO of Lehman Brothers as they unwound their assets and sought to pay back their creditors? That’s right, Alvarez & Marsal and Bryan Marsal respectively.

Alvarez & Marsal rose to prominence during the credit crunch; the firm was even dubbed “The Hottest Business on Wall Street” by Fortune Magazine, but don’t let that fool you: Alvarez & Marsal didn’t show up out of nowhere and get lucky. In 2002, they played a pivotal role in steering HealthSouth out of a $2.7B accounting scandal. Along with Lehman Brothers, they’ve also helped Interstate Bakeries, the home of the Twinkie, and Warnaco, makers of CK Jeans and Speedos.

It’s not just big corporations who have turned to Alvarez & Marsal for help either. The firm also has a lot of notable public sector work under its belt. One example is when the New York School’s system hired them to boost the efficiency of their school bus network, which they did, saving the city $12M.

But enough of the past – let’s talk about the present. Recent years have been good for the firm, and they’ve jumped up the ladder in Vault’s Top 50 Consulting list and scooped up a hatful of awards. This brainy, entrepreneurial and somewhat mysterious bunch have been around the block a few times. And by the looks of things, they’re only just getting started.

One of the things we really love to do here at Management Consulted is answer the questions you have for us. This Firm Profile started as an email from Sean, asking if we could write on Alvarez & Marsal, “The Turnaround Guys”. Well, Sean, thanks for asking so nicely – today is your lucky day!

ALVAREZ & MARSAL KEY STATS

Alvarez & Marsal Website: http://www.alvarezandmarsal.com/

Alvarez & Marsal Headquarters: New York City, NY

Alvarez & Marsal Employees: 2,500+

Alvarez & Marsal Locations: 44 offices in 18 countries worldwide

Alvarez & Marsal Chief Executive: Tony Alvarez II (Co-CEO) and Bryan Marsal (Co-CEO)

Alvarez & Marsal Revenue: $500M

Alvarez & Marsal Engagement Cost: $500K + incentives

ALVAREZ & MARSAL HISTORY

Alvarez & Marsal was founded in 1983 when Tony Alvarez II, a former Coopers Lybrand workout specialIst and Bryan P. Marsal, a former Citibank workout banker, met while working at Norton Simon Inc. Combining their industry experience, the pair were forerunners in what became a specialty area in professional services: turnaround management, corporate restructuring and operational performance improvement for companies and stakeholders.

The firm’s first turnaround client was the household brand, Timex Corporation. After this first success came a string of high-profile engagements in which Alvarez & Marsal provided advisory and crisis management services to troubled and underperforming entities.

Alvarez & Marsal grew slowly through the 1980s and 1990s, relying on a small team of experienced professionals in New York, with a satellite office in Los Angeles added in 1994. In 1999, things really began to change. At a corporate retreat on Daufuskie Island, off the South Carolina coast, 50 Alvarez & Marsal members decided it was time to start building a global brand for the firm.

By 2002, their agreement, their strategy and their implementation appeared to have paid off, as Alvarez & Marsal’s client base continued to diversify. It was during this period that Bryan Marsal oversaw the wind-down of Arthur Andersen in the post-Enron era of Sarbanes-Oxley.

What began as a boutique restructuring firm was now turning into a global services firm. As the 2008 banking crisis ensued, Alvarez & Marsal played a pivotal role in liquidating Lehman Brother’s assets while also servicing many other high-profile clients. This added to the firm’s already glowing reputation as they continued to diversify their services and enter new markets.

Though they gained a reputation as the firm that can rescue troubled businesses, they are now known as a firm that can add value to any client, no matter how healthy or unhealthy the business is. Recently, Alvarez & Marsal gained more territory in Europe and Asia by recruiting a new country head in Greece and by opening an office in Seoul, South Korea.

ALVAREZ & MARSAL ORGANIZATION

Practice Areas With Alvarez & Marsal

Industries With Alvarez & Marsal

Office Locations At Alvarez & Marsal

  • China – Beijing
  • Hong Kong
  • Shanghai
  • Czech Republic – Prague
  • France – Paris
  • Germany – Frankfurt
  • Germany – Munich
  • Greece – Athens
  • Italy – Milan
  • Netherlands – Amsterdam
  • Poland – Warsaw
  • Russia – Moscow
  • Spain – Madrid
  • Brazil – Rio de Janeiro
  • Brazil – São Paulo
  • Canada – Calgary
  • Canada – Toronto
  • Canada – Vancouver
  • India – Mumbai
  • Korea – Seoul
  • Mexico – Mexico City
  • Netherlands – Amsterdam
  • Poland – Warsaw
  • Russia – Moscow
  • Spain – Madrid
  • United Arab Emirates – Dubai
  • UK – London
  • US – Atlanta
  • US – Birmingham
  • US – Boston
  • US – Charlotte
  • US – Chicago
  • US – Dallas
  • US – Denver
  • US – Detroit
  • US – El Segundo
  • US – Greenwich
  • US – Houston
  • US – Kansas City
  • US – Los Angeles
  • US – Miami
  • US – Nashville
  • US – New York
  • US – Philadelphia
  • US – Phoenix
  • US – San Antonio
  • US  – San Francisco
  • US – Seattle
  • US – Washington, D.C.

Career Path at Alvarez & Marsal

At Alvarez & Marsal your career has the potential to look like this:

  • Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Associate
  • Senior Associate
  • Manager
  • Director

Don’t let our reassuringly simple list fool you: career path progress at Alvarez & Marsal is an interesting subject given the changing face of the firm. As they’ve been branching out into other areas, they’ve also been bringing in a lot of experienced people to head up new departments. As such, some junior players in the firm feel like their career development is limited.

It seems to be a bit of a conundrum for the prospective Alvarez & Marsal employee, but the overall impression is that if you’re good, you’ll get brought in on the big things soon enough. Just don’t expect to move through the ranks if you aren’t a high performer – it’s a high pressure business, and only players can play.

Exit Opportunities

As with any consulting firm, your exit opportunities are going to be good. The main thing for you to consider is how much access you’re going to have to other fields, particularly fields completely unrelated to consulting. The work at Alvarez & Marsal is one part advisory, one part banking and one part consulting – which adds to its appeal, but defers actual expertise until later in your career.

The work at Alvarez & Marsal is analytical in nature, which is great, and the focus is on turning companies around both structurally (which is not as relevant to consulting) and operationally (which is highly relevant to consulting). There is also a lightweight focus on longer-term strategy, but the focus is really on near to medium-term changes. Similar skills, but different applications of the skills.

Though much has been made of the expanded services beyond restructuring that Alvarez & Marsal are offering, they are widely regarded as “The Turnaround Guys”. If you want to venture into the financial sector, then you’re absolutely golden, but if you want to do something completely different, your opportunities will not be as broad as they would be at a larger firm. That being said, Alvarez & Marsal are still a prestigious and exciting firm, so working there will not look bad on your resume.

ALVAREZ & MARSAL CULTURE

There are a few things that immediately stand out about Alvarez & Marsal’s culture. One of them is how meritocratic they are in nature.

As an entry level Analyst, you can expect to be earning up to $10K less than analysts at other top firms. You will, however, have the chance to make up for it with their aggressive bonus packages, which can be as much as 40% of your base pay (vs. only 10% – 20% at MBB).

The next thing that comes to mind is the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to hang over the firm. As an employee, you’ll be given free rein to win business, get results, take initiative and everything else your little heart desires. While this sounds amazing, some staff find life at the firm too unstructured and feel like they are just supposed to figure things out alone, in a sink-or-swim, death-or-glory kind of way.

Another thing that seems to be said over and over again is that all entry level staff are given a lot of access to senior staff and big projects from day one. It seems to be that once you’re in, you’re brought right into the inner circle, which is an exciting prospect for any prospective Alvarez & Marsal employee.

While you will be working side by side with the firm’s top guns and while you will be working on some very interesting projects, Alvarez & Marsal offers very little in terms of formal training. A vested commitment to your professional development is something that inexperienced employees revel in when it’s given to them, so the lack of structured mentoring, though not disastrous, is a big miss.

Finally comes work/life balance. When you’re on engagement, your nose is going to be firmly pressed against the grindstone, which is the expectation in this field. Outside of this, however, Alvarez & Marsal is very flexible in terms of managing your work hours and location. While you can and should expect to travel a lot, they do try to keep travel regional, so you won’t be crossing time zones every 4 days. Weekend work is also a rarity, something that pleases Alvarez & Marsal staff.

Core Values

Alvarez & Marsal espouse 5 key core values (#3 is our favorite):

  • Integrity
  • Quality
  • Fun
  • Objectivity
  • Reward

ALVAREZ & MARSAL INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING

The interview process at Alvarez & Marsal is pretty straightforward.

If you apply through your school, the first round will be conducted on campus with one of the Alvarez & Marsal staff members, possible even senior staff. Your second round will be held at one of their offices, where you can expect to have multiple 1:1 or 2:1 interviews. As is the norm with consulting firms, you can expect to have a mixture of cases and fit type questions.

Depending on who’s interviewing you, may get off pretty lightly with some simple questions, or you may get assessed pretty rigorously, it could go either way. One thing that does come up pretty frequently is your resume. Firstly, you’re going to need a top notch resume to get an interview in the first place and then you’ll need to be able to walk your interviewer through each and every line of it if you want to impress them.

If you’re applying you Alvarez & Marsal and you want to get your resume up to the required level, grab a resume edit here. If you’d like to brush up on fit or case interviews, grab an interview prep session here, check out our Consulting Case Bank here.

Alvarez & Marsal also offer summer internships. For more information, visit http://www.alvarezandmarsal.com/careers.

Target Schools

  • Emory – Goizueta Business School
  • Georgetown
  • Georgia Tech
  • Harvard Business School
  • Northwestern – Kellogg
  • NYU – Stern
  • Texas A&M
  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Berkeley – Haas
  • University of Michigan
  • UNC Chapel Hill – Kenan Flagler
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Texas – Austin
  • University of Toronto

Awards

(2015) #2 Top Restructuring Firm – The Deal Out-of-Court Restructuring League

(2014) Due Diligence Provider of the Year – Unquote British Private Equity Awards

(2014) #14 – Largest Healthcare Management Consulting Firms

(2014) Global Turnaround Consulting Firm of the Year (Cross-Border Restructuring Deal of the Year Over $1 Billion and Chapter 11 Reorganization of the Year Over $1 Billion) – Turnaround Atlas Awards 

(2014) Integrated Due Diligence Team of the Year – Acquisition International’s M&A Awards

(2013) Outstanding Turnaround Firm – Turnarounds & Workouts

(2013) International Turnaround of the Year (Eircom Group Ltd.); Mega Turnaround of the Year (Hawker Beechcraft); Mid-Size Transaction of the Year (Arctic Glacier); TMA Brazil: Large Turnaround Deal of the Year (Casa & Video) – Turnaround Management Association (TMA)

ALVAREZ & MARSAL LINKS

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