We just love bringing you good reads, and today our spotlight turns to top consulting firms in one of our favorite cities in the U.S. – Washington, DC. Although historically not known for consulting services (unless you were consulting – ahem, lobbying – government officials), strategy, operations, and even tech consulting have exploded inside and outside the Beltway in the last 10 years.
The U.S. capital is becoming a hub for major Fortune 500 companies – making the city an obvious attraction not just because of its historic relevance but also because of the people and the growth it has experienced in the last decade or so. Plus, DC is a very walkable city – Washington’s transit options include Metrorail and Metrobus – and it is much more green than New York or even Boston.
If you are a sports fan, Washington D.C. is home to the Washington Nationals, the D.C. United Soccer Team, the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, the Washington Mystics and the Washington Redskins. For fun, there are several beaches and ski resorts located within two hours of D.C. – plus, for the big kid in all of us, DC is close to King’s Dominion Theme Park and Six Flags Great America.
So here they are: The top 10 management consulting firms in the very global, very dynamic, always-changing District of Columbia!
1. McKinsey: Located at 1200 Nineteenth Street NW, McKinsey is the top consulting firm to work for in Washington, DC, both in terms of the size of the firm as well as its employee strength. McKinsey has legacy – the first mover in the DC area – and power in its camp. The McKinsey office is positioned around the exciting and colorful DuPont Circle District. Close to the Capitol, its office serves dynamic clients in a mix of industries including healthcare, aerospace, defense, and consumer products. This office is also home of McKinsey’s global Public Sector Practice, Social Sector Practice, and Recovery & Transformation Services.
The McKinsey Washington, DC office attracts people from all walks of life: business, law, medicine, industry, academia, and public service. If you are looking for a place to intellectually stimulate you, or you enjoy having very good analytically-driven conversations with loads of energy, this is the office you need to go to – stat!
McKinsey has 550 employees across its Mid-Atlantic offices in Washington, DC, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. This diverse group of employees spans at least 50 nationalities. The partners in the DC office – in contrast to more suitcase offices like New York – are very engaging and take the time to assist, advise, and direct employees in a personalized career path.
The Washington, DC office’s recruitment team hires highly intelligent people who start as great communicators but are trainable. The DC office management pushes training programs and the culture is all about grooming employees into McKinsey-bred consultants; they do everything they can to stay on top.
However, the news on the ground floor in DC is that if you are looking to escape the Northeast to get a better work-life balance, you need to stop looking – it really doesn’t exist at McKinsey!
2. BCG: BCG opened its DC office two decades ago, in 1996. At 4800 Hampden Lane in Bethesda, BCG’s Washington, DC office is located in a prime spot where the Kennedy Center, the National Gallery, and the Smithsonian are all just minutes away (yet you’re not in the core of DC). In the DC office, consultants work on diverse projects for clients – industrial goods, consumer goods, retail, technology and communications, healthcare, and financial services companies. The work – vs. McKinsey – is notably skewed more private sector.
The range of services this office provides includes general strategy, post-merger integration, organizational change, and corporate development. BCGers are active in their local community and participate in the National Race for the Cure cancer fundraiser and a variety of community projects through the office’s affiliation with Greater DC Cares.
In addition, BCG (especially in Washington, DC) is active on TED. Many of their leaders share the stage on TED and engage in transformative thinking. The consultants in the DC office have amazing opportunities to work with clients in numerous locations throughout the country, as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.
3. Bain & Company is located at 1717 K Street, in close proximity to ~30 Fortune 500 companies. Although Bain has been serving clients in the DC area for 40 years now, the office is brand new – Bain came late to the Capital City party. The office is 23,000 square feet – that’s one palatial place for all those great consultants to hang out.
Bain serves a variety of industries in the mid-Atlantic region – including aerospace and defense, financial services, retail, healthcare, and technology; clients cover the private and public sectors but definitely skew private sector. Bain’s Washington, DC team is full of smart, down-to-earth consultants that are taking the region by storm – the office is one of the fastest-growing in the Bain network, driven by major gains in aerospace, health care, and defense, which are all important sectors in the region. The population in DC has grown rapidly in the past decade, and this growth has brought in an influx of companies to take advantage of the area’s central strategic location.
Bain is committed to and passionate about serving in the local community. Every year, Bain organizes an auction that benefits United Way. Each spring, Bain also has an “Impact Day” like Deloitte’s – branded “Community Impact Day,” everyone leaves the office to spend the day supporting local nonprofits, which most recently included the Anacostia Watershed Society, KIPP DC, the Rock Creek Conservancy, and the Father McKenna Center. For those interested in outdoor activities, Bain consultants frequently arrange group activities outside of work, such as cooking classes, whitewater rafting, and trips to Wizards and Nationals games.
4. Booz Allen Hamilton: One of the world’s oldest consulting firms, BAH is located at 901 15th Street NW. That’s not all, though – BAH has 10 offices in Northern Virginia as well. (Make sure you specify where you should show up when you’re reporting for duty on the first day of work!). In fact, it’s a Top 10 employer in the Washington, DC region, included in a list of peers such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
Booz Allen Hamilton serves every federal executive department and most independent agencies, as well as some of the world’s leading non-governmental organizations and nonprofits. What’s so cool (and different, and so DC) about Booz’s work in Washington, DC is that they partner with clients working on the front lines of national policy issues and programs that affect the nation’s highest priorities. Plus, Booz Allen Hamilton employees are able to consult for federal agencies by offering rich insights that no other consulting strategic firm can give, like being able to take what the Navy has done and apply to similar ideas and programs in the Army.
The BAH office culture is a happy one marked by flexibility and managers who are very supportive and collaborate with the team. Working from home is an option – a constant delight when faced with daily DC traffic. The leadership set you up for success. BAH is also known for having great people to work with – in general, they are hard-working, responsive, generous with their time, and supportive of teamwork.
Increasing size has led to more focus on numbers, process, and increasing administration – however, with growth, benefits have actually diminished in recent years. Booz Allen Hamilton is very large and at times the matrix can be difficult to manage – plus, the pay can be all over the place. Training opportunities are plentiful, but you will need to show personal interest in order to take advantage of them. If you have a passion for government, good – your focus at BAH will be on federal work with few opportunities for commercial work.
5. Accenture Consulting: Located at 800 North Glebe Road in Arlington, the Accenture Washington, DC office has close to 4000 employees. When Accenture recruiters were hiring across various locations a couple of years ago, they were asked a few common questions which they found extremely interesting – so they brought them to top management. Overall, prospective employees wanted to know most about environmental stewardship and flexible work arrangements. Therefore, the 90,000-square-foot office on North Glebe Road in Arlington is built around these key core values: flexibility, mobility, and connectivity.
The space makes use of a set-up known as “hoteling,” in which staffers aren’t assigned a designated work space. They reserve one only on days when they plan to come to the office. Cool, or not? In one way, you’re permanently homeless. In another, you’re truly a member of a global firm. At Accenture in Washington, DC, there are no high-wall cubicles, but open spaces to increase and encourage collaboration of teams and provides a more relaxed, friendly and airy atmosphere. You can work virtually from anywhere in the building because of its state of the art technology. The hoteling system in the building is also a great help for new mothers in the firm as they can schedule a room for privacy when pumping or even breastfeeding.
The Accenture Washington, DC office serves clients in the area of technology, consulting, and strategy. The office is stunning – arguably one of the best in the Accenture network. The people who work here are extremely intelligent and they challenge you to expand on your current role. The motto on the floor across the office is work hard, play harder!
6. Deloitte Consulting: Located at 1001 G St NW, the Deloitte office in DC is home to not just the firm’s consulting arm, but multiple functional areas such as tax, strategy, financial services, and audit.
In 2014, Deloitte Consulting launched a new health care division called ConvergeHEALTH, headquartered in Newton, Mass, which works closely with the Deloitte Health Informatics unit located in the DC office. This area of Deloitte has been growing rapidly, generating demand for 200 new jobs every year. in fact, Deloitte has invested a total of $150M in its health care business, including ConvergeHealth.
Deloitte also has a Federal practice in the DC Area – the office is located at 1919 N. Lynn Street in Arlington. The Federal practice is a huge differentiator – a true consulting firm (that even uses case interviews that are strategic in nature), the Deloitte Federal practice is arguably the most distinguished government consulting firm in the world. Focused on transformational projects for government agencies that include a focus on efficiency through digitization and enhanced customer service, the Federal practice will be busy for many years to come.
Like many other firms, Deloitte offers two sabbatical programs: a one-month unpaid leave that you can take at any time for any reason, and a three to six-month paid sabbatical to pursue personal growth.
7. KPMG Consulting: Located at 1801 K Street, KPMG operates from the Tysons corner area to better serve their clients in Northern Virginia. This office is less than eight blocks from the White House, and consists of approximately 145 partners and nearly 1,600 professional and administrative staff members. Most clients are a great mix of Fortune 500 companies, independent colleges and state university systems, elite high-tech firms, and international financial institutions.
KPMG’s DC office performs audit, tax, and advisory services for federal, state and local government agencies. KPMG’s Advisory unit offers services in management consulting, risk consulting, deal advisory and strategy. But the government audit practice is the largest practice in the area. Founded in 1959, the Washington National Tax Practice (WNTP), a fundamental element of KPMG’s tax resources, is based out of the DC office. In fact, the WNTP is one of the largest, most experienced, and technically diverse tax knowledge centers in the world. There are 170 professionals in this practice that cater to local, state, national and international taxation, and some of these 170 professionals are the nation’s leading tax authorities. The DC office offers professionals a rotation option, wherein they can opt for more than 6 months outside their respective practice areas or transfer to an international office. Some of the most popular rotations at the Washington DC office include: Tax rotations for Audit professionals (or vice versa) and assignments abroad to KPMG offices in the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Russia, and Germany.
8. The Advisory Board Company: Headquartered and founded in Washington, DC, The Advisory Board Company is a research, technology, and consulting firm to organizations primarily in the healthcare and education sectors. The Washington, DC office houses Clinovations; a team of clinicians and consultants who share the goal of using technology to transform the way health care is delivered. Pretty rad! Advisory Board employees enjoy free soda in their Common Room, happy hours in public spaces, and proximity to Starbucks. Centrally located and in the heart of downtown, just a few minutes away from Metro Center, the White House, and the National Mall, employees can easily access favorite lunch spots located in the nearby area.
Some of the most sought after positions in the Washington, DC office include strategy, Clinovations, advisory, healthcare, and revenue roles. As far as impact goes: An internal team at Advisory board recognized that the overall four-year graduation rate in District of Columbia Public Schools is 58.3%—one of the lowest in the nation. Of those students who do graduate, a significant percentage either don’t attend college at all or drop out before graduation. Therefore a team at ADC put together a tool called MyCollege Factfinder (MCFF), an online application that shows how District students have fared at colleges and universities across the country, and provides data on SAT/ACT ranges for enrolled students, graduation rates, and transfer behavior. Pretty cool.
9. Oliver Wyman: If you find yourself working OW’s DC office, you will be surrounded by driven and intelligent people. The firm has some of the best workplace flexibility programs of any of the top-tier firms (including non-profit fellowships and paid leaves of absence).
The culture of the firm differs greatly by office – with that said, the Boston and NY offices are very entrepreneurial and seem to keep the “fun” atmosphere that the firm sells through the recruiting team, while the DC office is a little more relaxed and family-oriented.
Oliver Wyman is not as hierarchal as other top firms – with no formal 2-year analyst program and no requirement for an MBA to reach Associate, the DC office, in particular, is known as a flat come-as-you-are do-as-you-will office. If you want to move up the ranks quickly without a required time frame or demand for a new degree, then Oliver Wyman DC is a great fit for you.
Oliver Wyman has a great brand name in the financial services domain, but many times you have to refer to Mercer Management Consulting (the big brother of Oliver Wyman under the Marsh & McLennon family of companies) to get recognition in the management consulting arena – an uphill battle, especially inside the Beltway.
Don’t write Oliver Wyman off, however – there are many career opportunities once you leave, including a newly launched alumni networking website that shows job postings from well-placed alums. Be prepared for lots of travel and very little flexibility or work life balance – 60-70 hours a week is the status quo for most project managers.
10. Brattle Group: Located at 1850 M Street NW, the Brattle Group Washington office was opened in 1996 to focus on regulation, antitrust, and public policy projects. The office continues to grow and is one of the busiest and most important offices inside the firm.
There is a total of 250 Brattle staff and principals who work from 8 offices in the United States, Canada, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom serving a number of industries, including electric power, financial institutions, natural gas and petroleum, telecommunications and media, and healthcare. The work they perform for clients is high profile, extremely niche, and includes sensitive government work – hence a key strategic focus on Washington, DC.
The type of work you will get to do at the Brattle Group in DC involves offering sophisticated capabilities in economic modeling, econometrics, and financial analysis. Brattle Group teams appear before courts, governments, and arbitration panels around the world. The DC office offers a great company culture, and management is very supportive of personal goals – consistently finding ways to help consultants identify and reach them.
The projects are extremely interesting, and even though the firm is small, it is highly respected. Brattle consultants have shared their insights in countless academic papers, books, articles, and reports, which have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and journals all over the world. It is a great place to start a career – most consultants who work here are offered jobs from big consulting firms. Some comparable firms include Analysis Group, Inc., Charles River Associates, and NERA Economic Consulting.
Honorable Mention List of firms in Washington, DC
Avascent: Headquartered in Washington, DC, Avascent is a strategy and management consulting firm serving clients operating in government-driven markets – either private contractors or government organizations.
Edgeworth Economics: Headquartered in Washington, DC, Edgeworth Economics is a boutique economic, financial and quantitative consulting firm, serving clients in a wide range of industries and sectors, including government.
Censeo Consulting Group: Headquartered in Washington, Censeo works with public, private, and non-profit organizations to improve operations. The firm specializes in technology, higher education, sourcing and procurement, and workforce development.
Point B: Headquartered in Seattle, Point B specializes in a number of management consulting services, with venture investment and advisory being the primary foci.
Health Advances: The firm has an office in Washington, DC, and has only one practice area: health care.