We’re continuing our Top 10 Consulting Firms series this week by focusing our expert eye on consulting firms in the Middle East. For the purposes of this article, let’s define the Middle East as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sultanate of Oman.
It’s purely optional to listen to ‘Desert Rose’ by Sting while reading this. Here we go!
Ask any consultant about the Middle East, and Booz (now Strategy&) will be the first name on their lips! Quite frankly, the firm is known as the powerhouse of the Middle East. When we say Booz & Company, what we do not mean is Booz Allen Hamilton; they split about 5 years ago. A little later, Booz was acquired by PwC and rebranded as Strategy&. Now that our little history lesson is complete, let’s continue. By far, the firm pulls in the most revenues in the region, earning $1.3B in 2015. In fact, Booz & Co has been a presence in the Middle East since the 1970’s. Later, it was the first to put down roots in the region, starting with an Abu Dhabi office in 1993, followed by Dubai, Beirut, Riyadh, Cairo and most recently, Doha.
Currently, Strategy& does major public (read: government) consulting work outside the U.S. In terms of engagement cost, the MBB firms are still more expensive and exclusive, even in the Middle East. However, due to its rich history in the region, the firm knows the market deeper, better, and has the best government and private sector relationships.
The firm has 25 regional partners and 2600+ employees from 35 different nationalities working in the Middle East, pulling in $1.3B in revenue (wow!).
Bain’s major industries of importance in the Middle East include Airlines & Transportation, Media, Mining, Oil & Gas, Retail, Private Equity, Social & Public Sector, Technology, Telecommunications, Utilities and Alternative energy (the oil will run out one day!). Bain’s clients in the Middle East include a who’s who of prominent listed companies, government institutions, family owned conglomerates, and international groups. A couple of notable clients include international group MENA (Middle East North Africa), the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), and the government of Egypt. Presently, the firm has offices in Dubai and Istanbul. In fact, Bain is among the most established and profitable consulting firms in Turkey.
Generally speaking, there is a little less competition to land a position in one of the firm’s Middle East offices, although it is by no means easy. However, the firm is growing rapidly in this region, and is actively looking for top-performing undergrads, MBA’s, and experienced hires. You will have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of practice areas and industries, and the top salaries Bain pays will go a lot further in the Middle East than they would in the U.S., for example. Knowing the local language is an added advantage, and in some cases may be a requirement to apply.
BCG has two offices in the Middle East – the first in Dubai, and another in Abu Dhabi. They opened their first office in the region in 2007 after beginning to consistently work here in 2005. BCG in the Middle East has focused on the following industries and sectors: government, financial services, energy, industrial goods, telecommunications, real estate, healthcare and private equity. Dubai is one of the firm’s newest offices, and for good reason – the city is a hot spot for tourism, real estate investment, trade, transportation, and financial services. Large Dubai businesses are increasingly rolling out their business models internationally and gaining traction in world markets, hence the need for top, creative thinking consulting firms such as BCG.
McKinsey at #4? What are we thinking!? Although McKinsey has long been a storied name and brand in the consulting world, its impact here has not been as widespread as Strategy& and the other top 3 firms on our list. McKinsey is still well-networked in the region, and doing substantial work in sectors including: banking, industrials, telecoms, energy, real estate, construction, health care, and diversified conglomerates.
If you are particular about working for an MBB firm, then now is a great time to get in on the ground floor of what the firm is building in the Middle East. McKinsey’s Middle East practice is growing rapidly, and the firm has invested a lot of capital to continue to expand quickly. Currently, the firm employs about 300+ consultants, speaking 50+ different languages, working on around 750+ projects in the region. The firm already has 6 offices in the Middle East – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Riyadh, Cairo, and Manama. McKinsey works relentlessly towards promoting gender diversity in the Gulf, and empowers their women in leadership.
5. A.T Kearney
A.T. Kearney is a partner owned firm committed to bringing advisory services to its clients, and has rapidly expanded in the Middle East. The firm has four offices in the region: in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, and Riyadh. Their Middle Ease portfolio includes offering services such as analytics, IT, innovation, marketing & sales, M&A, operations, strategic organization, and strategy to companies in such varied industries such as: aerospace & defense, automotives, chemicals, oil & gas, private equity, transportation, utilities, metals and mining, and healthcare. Some recent projects include issues such as global energy solutions and large international sporting events.
A.T. Kearney’s emphasis in the region seems to be projects in Utilities and Oil & Gas. If these industries excite you, and you want to experience the exciting culture of the Middle East, A.T. Kearney may be the place for you!
Deloitte’s regional offices are located in Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, and the firm has had a presence in the Middle East for the past 88 years! They have around 1,100 professionals based within five practice offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah. Deloitte & Touche (M.E.) is a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and is the first Arab professional services firm established in the Middle East region with an uninterrupted presence since 1926. They provide audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services. Deloitte has been the top dog in offering tax services in the region since 2010. Deloitte has received many awards such as Best Employer in the Middle East, Best Consulting Firm, and the Middle East Training & Development Excellence award. (bravo Deloitte!).
Deloitte plays a pivotal role in serving Middle East’s high-growth industry sectors such as tourism, hospitality and leisure, construction, telecoms and financial services, as well as major sectors such as oil and gas, the public sector and the Gulf region’s sovereign wealth funds. Deloitte M.E has a very strong alumni network as well, which help you when it comes time to transition out of the firm.
7. Oliver Wyman
Oliver Wyman has been a player in the Middle East consulting sphere for a while now, and has now opened three offices in the region: Dubai in 2005, and Abu Dhabi & Riyadh in 2010. The firm has been active in the Middle East for the past 20 years, and 90% of its business is due to repeat clients (talk about loyalty!).
Over its time in the Middle East, Oliver Wyman has grown to cater to several industries: automotive, aviation, aerospace & defense, business services, communications, media & technology, distribution & wholesale, energy, financial services, and health & life sciences. The firm’s main capabilities include: actuarial, business & organization transformation, digital, marketing and sales, operations & technology, risk management, and strategy & value sourcing.
The firm is known to be the top military-friendly employer on our list (lots of aerospace and defense projects!), and Oliver Wyman has also been recognized for two of its minority organizations within the firm. WOW – Women of Oliver Wyman – was named as a top Women’s Employee Network, and GLOW – Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Allies of Oliver Wyman – was recognized as a Top Ten LGBT Employee Network.
8. Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young is one of the biggest Accounting firms in the world, and checks in at #8 on our list here. It is a global leader in the areas of assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The company works with companies in various industries including Automotive, Consumer Products, Financial Services, Government and Public Sector, Life Science, Media & Entertainment, Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities, Provider Care, Real Estate, Retail & Wholesale, Technology, and Telecommunications. Specifically in the Middle East, EY is involved in Islamic Banking, GCC Digital Banking, M&A in the MENA regions, Mobile Banking options for GCC clients and much more.
If you have an MBA and are interested in actuarial work, EY’s Middle East operation is a great place to get your foot in the door. The salaries are luring, cost of living is cheap, the firm provides relocation expenses, and even will assist employees with housing.
9. Roland Berger
Roland Berger is a strategy consulting firm founded in 1967, with 2400 employees spread out over 35 different countries. The firm is wholly owned by 220 partners. Operating in almost all major industries, the firm combines sound analysis with creative strategies to create real and sustainable value for their clients.
Interdisciplinary teams are handpicked from “Competence Centers” to develop the best solutions for their strong client base. As with Oliver Wyman, a majority of Roland Berger’s business in the Middle East is repeat clients. Most of the firm’s experts are well versed in Middle Eastern culture, tradition, and expectations, as well as in their specific business issue areas. This focus on cultural awareness could open a door for those of you who have a background in some non-traditional degrees, such as International Studies or Political Science, or for those of you exiting the Foreign Service, providing you can show business acumen and crazy math skills. In addition, those of you with fluency in Arabic will find yourself with a leg up on the competition when applying for a position in Roland Berger’s Middle East practice.
10. Aon Consulting Worldwide
Aon Middle East is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates but has many offices across the region. Aon entered the Middle East market in 1985. The firm has a thriving presence in the MENA region, employing over 300 qualified professionals based in the UAE, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Aon is a leading provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage and human resources consulting and outsourcing. A
Aon’s operation in the Middle East is comprised of Aon Risk Solutions, which provides multifaceted retail brokering and risk management services, Aon Benfield, the world’s leading reinsurance intermediary and full-service capital advisor, and Aon Hewitt, which focuses on human resource consulting and outsourcing services. They have plenty of job vacancies in divisions including Aon Benfield, Aon Hewitt and Aon Risk Solutions.
If you are considering a move to the Middle East for consulting, these firms are setting the bar in the region for top consulting services. If you’d like to discuss your options 1:1 with one of our ex-MBB consultants, schedule a Power Half Hour with us today!
Honorable Mention – Boutique firms in the Middle East
McGrigor Group: Headquartered in the UK but with an office in Bahrain, they are a global healthcare strategy firm.
Phoenix Consulting: Headquartered in Lebanon, Phoenix has offices across the Middle east. Phoenix Consulting is a boutique management consulting and executive search firm specializing in human capital solutions and operating across the Middle East.
Saber Management Consulting: Headquartered in Lebanon and with offices across the Middle East, Saber Middle East is a vibrant Consulting and Training firm.
ForeLogix: Headquartered in Lebanon, ForeLogix is a Business and Technology service provider. ForeLogix offers Consulting Services, Tailored Solutions and Managed Services.
The Performance Factory: The firm is a Management Consulting and Training firm founded in 2006 in India, with its international operations in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S.