So you have a Strategy& (renamed from the former brand Booz & Company following its acquisition by PwC) interview coming up, and you want to be the best candidate they see? We agree! We want you to nail it. Where prestige, pay, exit opportunities and culture are concerned, Strategy& used to rank number 4 behind MBB. In reality, McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group are tied for first, but Strategy& lost momentum and got a random name in the PwC swallow, so now it’s in 6th place behind Deloitte-Monitor and Oliver Wyman.
In the U.S. at least, Strategy& is recognized as one of the most prestigious firms to work for, and it is most certainly the oldest. With 57 offices worldwide, Strategy& offers consulting services for top businesses, governments, and organizations. The firm boasts a strong client portfolio including many of the world’s largest public corporations, and has been involved in high-profile celebrity cases dealing with areas including Hollywood and the American National Football League.
Strategy& blends the old and the faithful with the new and the dramatic, offering sage advice in many realms.
If you love a strong performing underdog, and are interested in being a part of building a firm’s prestige back to its former glory, read on for these – and more – reasons we love Strategy&.
STRATEGY& KEY STATS
Strategy& Website: www.strategyand.pwc.com
Strategy& Headquarters: New York City, NY
Strategy& Employees: 3,000+
Strategy& Locations: 57 offices around the world
Strategy& Global Leader: Leslie Moeller
Strategy& Revenue: $1.3B (2011)
Strategy& Engagement Cost: $400K
The company that was originally known as Booz & Company was founded in 1914 by Edwin G. Booz, who could very well possibly be considered the father of management consulting as a career. It is one of the original “white-shoe” firms, accredited with being the origination of the management consulting profession. Thank you, Edwin Booz. You created not just a firm, but an industry we are all now proud of.
How did he think up such a career? After he graduated from Northwestern University (Chicago, IL), he developed the idea that companies would become more successful if they called on someone outside of their organization to offer expert, unbiased advice. This idea became a theory, and he developed a practice.
He began by helping firms recruit competent executives, acquire new customers, and establish conducive office space. After 2 years, he recruited 2 friends from Chicago and formed the Business Research and Development Company with $500 borrowed from the bank. This group then began conducting studies and investigations for clients including commercial and trade organizations. This was ground breaking, cutting edge, and the first of its kind (especially in the Midwest).
Early on, he wrote many articles about his real passion of “taking the measure” on business problems. He soon developed a reputation for helping corporate executives take a step back and gain perspective on business dilemmas in their organizations, a skill that helped many organizations thrive.
The 3 partners who helped him create the firm were George Fry, Jim Allen, and Carl Hamilton. We call what eventually became Booz affectionately, “the firm” because it went through so many name changes till it became what it is now. In the last 100 years of existence, Booz Allen Hamilton and Booz & Company were also known as Edwin G. Booz, Business Engineering Service; Edwin G. Booz Surveys; Booz, Fry, Allen & Hamilton; and more. After some partnership changes, the name eventually landed on Booz Allen Hamilton.
Some of Booz Allen Hamilton’s first clients were Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Chicago’s Union Stockyards and Transit Company, and Canadian & Pacific Railroad. In 1940, they were hired to help the US Secretary of the Navy with World War II preparations. Today, Booz Allen Hamilton and Booz & Company (now Strategy&) still reign in the federal sector – they own the highest percentage of the market in the government sector.
With such an impressive list of early clients (including the United States of America), it is no wonder that by the end of the 1950s, Time Magazine dubbed Booz Allen Hamilton the “world’s largest, most prestigious management consulting firms.” Surely it was the largest when it was the only one, but they kept the lead after creating an idea so great that competitors formed to add unique flavor to the industry.
In 1970, the firm went public and 6 years later in the largest leveraged buyout to date, Booz partners bought back the stock and the firm returned to private ownership. Even 30 years later, staff and partners applauded the choice. Marc Gerencser, managing director, noted in 2007 that returning to being a private firm allowed Booz & Company to make long-range investments that they may not have otherwise been able to make.
2008 was when the split came, and Booz Allen Hamilton (parent company) divided in 2. The firm sold a majority stake in the US government business for $2.45B to the Carlyle Group (Booz Allen Hamilton) and Booz & Company, owned and operated as a partnership, assumed the commercial strategy role. The focus of this article is on Booz & Company (now Strategy&) because of its focus on strategy.
Booz & Company continued to develop through a series of recent acquisitions. In 2009, the firm purchased Katzenbauh Partners and leveraged this link to launch the Katzenbauch Center, focused on the development and application of innovative ideas for organizational culture and change.
In 2012, Booz & Company was joined by Axon Advisory Partners. This link led to the launch of Booz Digital, a full-service team of strategists, designers, and technologists who help companies turn ideas into transformational digital businesses.
Recently, Booz & Company acquired Management Engineers, based in Dusseldorf, Germany. This company had a similar approach to Booz & Company, valuing practical strategy implemented alongside clients to produce excellent results. The technology-oriented firm (Management Engineers) is now able to leverage the platform of Booz & Company to continue offering their unparalleled expertise yet with more resources and a broader reach, including every continent with specific focus in Germany, China, the UK, and the US. Additionally, Booz & Company added 17 partners and 145 staff to the mix in this acquisition.
On April 3, 2014 PwC acquired Booz & Co. and changed the name of the firm to Strategy&.
Strategy& believes in staffing the most qualified people for an engagement and won’t exclude an individual based on geographic location. While it is rare for a consultant in the San Francisco office to get staffed in NYC, be prepared to travel outside of your region and time zone.
When a new hire joins, they are integrated into the mentoring scheme and assigned a Relationship Partner and Coach. Coaches (Partners or Directors) are there to provide practical help, and Relationship Partners speak into an employee’s long-term plan at the firm and beyond.
Early on, employees work with a mentor and staffing team for the firm to discover each individuals’ needs and preferences. People are then placed on engagements based on those needs and personal preferences, as well as which projects will develop core consulting skills. After 1-2 years, once you’ve networked inside the firm, you’ll have a much greater say in the projects you get staffed on.
The functional areas of Strategy& include:
- Corporate & Business Strategy
- Customer Strategy
- Deals Strategy
- Operations Strategy
- People & Organization Strategy
- Technology Strategy
- Aerospace & Defense
- Consumer Products
- Energy & Utilities
- Financial Services
- Media & Entertainment
- Oil & Gas
- Private Equity
- Public Sector
The 57 offices of Strategy& span areas including North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.
Strategy& utilizes a modified version of the Cravath System, under which employees on certain career paths are promoted within a certain time frame or “counseled out.” In its raw form, this is the “Up or Out” model used by all top firms.
Internships are highly selective, and due to Strategy&’s heavy recruitment from top MBA programs, you’re more likely to snag an internship there if you’re a current MBA student.
Summer Interns are brought on to real projects and given an experience of what it’s really like to be a consultant at Strategy&. They are staffed as a fully functioning member of the team, performing the work of their full-time counterparts. As with any other firm, you’ll do what new full-time hires do – from fact finding and developing recommendations to analysis and building client relationships. Learn more about Intern pay at Strategy&.
Exit opportunities from Strategy& are not as extensive as MBB, because the network of the pure strategy firm is still new and its prestige is still growing. In addition, the firm is still quite a bit smaller than other strategy firms such as McKinsey, so networking opportunities aren’t as plentiful. However, Strategy& consultants are respected because of the firm’s legacy of hiring for a combination of intellectual capacity and emotional intelligence.
An additional perk is that Strategy& is one of the rare firms from which it’s possible to transfer into MBB; the firm’s excellent training and strong culture are considered to run parallel to Bain, BCG, and McKinsey.
List of notable Booz & Company/Strategy& alum:
- Alex Oliver and Bill Wyman, Founding Partners – Oliver Wyman
- Abigail Johnson, Vice Chairman – Fidelity Investments
- Andrew Stern, CEO – Sungard Availability Services
- Brian Murray, President and CEO – HarperCollins Publishers
- Josh Silverman, CEO – Skype
- Keith Fox, President – BusinessWeek
- Paul Idzik, Former COO – Barclays PLC
- Lisa Shalett, Chief Investment Officer – Merrill Lynch
Additional companies started by Strategy& alum:
There is a strong firm Strategy& culture, and the firm prides itself on allowing its consultants to be authentic and truly themselves on the job and in the office. This has led to current and former Strategy& consultants raving about their smart yet collaborative co-workers. Partners host weekly Happy Hours on Fridays in the office, and Strategy& has a program entitled “Common Connections” on Friday afternoons allowing consultants to connect within their practice areas as well as with the larger PwC Advisory teams. In many geographies, the firm ranks at the top with MBB as close competitors when bidding for projects. However, prestige-wise, Strategy& is still a level beneath McKinsey, Bain, and BCG.
When writing this article, we asked ourselves – “Will there ever be MBBB? Will Strategy& be on par with the top 3 someday?” Our hypothesis? Probably not; the firm’s ties to PwC are becoming more and more ingrained that it will likely be held back from across-the-board thought leadership (we also foresee Strategy& remaining quite small in the years to come).
In fact, one of the reasons Strategy& may rank so close to MBB now could have to do with the fact they offer services 10-20% cheaper than MBB, and on benchmarking cases or projects heavy on research, clients may believe they are getting top services for a discount. However, while the firm’s rates may be less than MBB, Strategy& partners are known not to discount their own rates. These partners know what their teams are worth, and are more likely to walk away from a project or further tighten project scope rather than negotiate on price.
What about lifestyle? Employees at Strategy& get a bit of a lifestyle boost above MBB employees (especially McKinsey). They travel quite a bit, but their hours are slightly less than BCG or McKinsey and on par with Bain. This is in large part due to firm leadership’s core value of ensuring work/life balance. While there are pockets of heavy burn on any project, such as the week before a deliverable or SteerCo meeting, this won’t be your weekly norm.
We have said it once, and we will say it again. Strategy& stays on the cutting edge. In addition to being one of the first management consulting firms in the world, it is the maker and founder of many well-known internal structures and terms that every consultant has heard of. They coined the entire concept of supply chain, supply chain management, and product life cycle, as well as the lesser known PERT chance and Organizational DNA concepts. They keep a strong emphasis on research and quarterly produce a magazine, strategy + business.
The core values of the Strategy& culture include:
- An ability to thrive in a team environment
- Intellectual integrity
- A drive for excellence
- A commitment to servicing clients
- Vault Guide to the Top 50 Management and Strategy Consulting Firms. The Best Consulting Firms: Prestige (#12). 2016 – 2017.
- Vault Guide to the Top 50 Management and Strategy Consulting Firms. Vault Consulting 50 (#12). 2016 – 2017
- Vault Guide to the Top 50 Management and Strategy Consulting Firms. The Best Consulting Firms: Strategy (#6). 2016 – 2017.
STRATEGY& INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING
As far as interviewing goes, know your stuff!!
Compared to MBB, Strategy& interviews are most similar to BCG – generally interviewee-led, quite creative, not able to be solved with basic frameworks, sometimes situations, and often less quantitative than interviewer-led cases. While structured well, they focus on creativity and innovative approaches to problem solving.
In addition, Strategy& more heavily weights the fit interview, so be extra prepared with some awesome hero stories. Due to the fact that Strategy& ranks behind some top dogs, they have “underdog syndrome.” In particular, you will want to have a solid answer prepared for the question of why you are choosing to work there above any other firm. They are looking to recruit people who will be real advocates of the firm, not ones who are seeking an offer as a back-up plan to MBB.
Granted, if you had a choice between MBB and Strategy&, we’ve never heard of someone selecting the 4th ranked over the top 3 (but don’t tell them that).
Strategy& is known as being one of the top recruiters of graduates, especially from top-ranked business schools in the world. But good news – if you don’t have a top MBA, but studied something out of the norm (still at a top school), the firm welcomes first-rate applicants with advanced degrees outside of business in fields including science, medicine, engineering, and law.
Another way the Strategy& recruitment is unique is that the firm welcomes ex-military professionals with open arms. This is one of the only top strategy firms where this is true, at least where it is true to such an extent, and it is because of the fact that the firm really prides the combination of analytical chops, leadership ability, and the ability to remain cool under pressure that ex-military professionals provide.
Other than target schools, Strategy& could be an intermediary stepping stone. If people are interested in MBB but are currently at a firm like Ernst & Young, Accenture, or Deloitte, they have a good chance of transferring into Strategy& – then MBB.
Who is typically drawn to apply? Some stats would make you think everyone is. In 2007, they had 150,000 applicants apply to 1,033 open positions. Getting an interview was slim picking, let alone an offer – that’s a .68% chance of getting an offer!
So, besides maybe everyone wanting to work there (okay, we are exaggerating), it’s an attractive firm for individuals looking for exciting strategy work and don’t mind the travel model.
Are you an undergrad, MBA or intern who’s interested in working at Strategy&, but you don’t know how much you’ll make? Check out our latest Management Consulting Salaries post to find out!
A unique thing about Strategy& is that they place more emphasis on recent experience than most. Let’s say you have a degree from a non-target school, but an MBA at Harvard. While some other firms may look for pedigree and are happy to find it anywhere in your background, Strategy& puts weight on the fact if individuals have a recent and impressive degree (and not even an MBA, remember – but an array of multiple advanced degrees are seen as good preparation for candidates).
To say that again, you could have a top MBA and no-name undergraduate or pre-MBA experience, and still be accepted because of your most recent experience. Does that spark hope in anyone? If so, and you are thinking of overriding a lower-grade undergrad with an upscale MBA, check out the following target schools on your pathway to working at Strategy& –
Standard Target Schools:
- Columbia Business School
- Columbia University
- Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia
- Harvard Business School
- Harvard University
- IESE Business School
- Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern
- London Business School
- McCombs School of Business at University of Texas at Austin
- Northwestern University
- NYU Stern School of Business
- Princeton University
- Ross School of Business at University of Michigan
- University of Chicago Booth School of Business
- University of Michigan
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Texas
- Wharton Business School
You can read more about PwC’s (and by extension Strategy&’s) impressive commitment to diversity here.
- Why Harvard MBA does not equal McKinsey
- Management Consulting Recruiting Process
- Consulting Networking Asset File