A household name in the consulting world, Ernst & Young (EY) has gone through some dramatic changes in the past few years. Originally a behemoth as one of the Big 4 accounting firms, EY is now set up as a global organization of member firms. In 2014, EY joined forces with Parthenon, a small strategy firm that was founded in 1991 by two ex-Bain consultants, to combine Parthenon’s strategy expertise with EY’s global reach and implementation experience. Combining the strengths of these two entities enables the firm to advise C-suite and organizational leaders on full-scale solutions to a variety of problems.
With 27 offices worldwide, Parthenon-EY is still a new venture, although it is has gained decent market share in the 2 years it has been operational. While no one will confuse Parthenon-EY with MBB, the firm is still a more-than-respectable strategy practice with a proven track record, and touts itself as a nimbler, more flexible firm more attuned to the needs of its clients versus the mothership of EY. But is it where you want to start your career? Or where you want to climb up the corporate ladder? And is it a good stepping stone for you to get to MBB firms? Let’s investigate.
PARTHENON-EY KEY STATS
Parthenon-EY Website: https://www.parthenon.ey.com
Parthenon-EY Headquarters: Boston, MA
Parthenon-EY Employees: 600+ employees
Parthenon-EY Locations: 16 countries, 27 cities
Parthenon-EY Chief Executive: Bill Achtmeyer, Parthenon Founder and Senior Managing Director
Parthenon-EY Revenue: $80 million (2013, privately held)
Parthenon-EY Engagement Cost: $400K
Founded in 1991 by two former Bain consultants, Parthenon was established to be a specialty boutique strategy firm based out of Boston, MA. The co-founders saw an opportunity to leverage their existing client relationships from Bain to create a collegial, tight-knit firm atmosphere (there is definitely an unspoken mantra of work hard, play hard!). Today, the firm consults for many Global 1000 corporations.
EY was founded in 1989 after the marriage of accounting firms Ernst & Ernst and Arthur Young and Co. In the subsequent two decades, EY became a major player in the implementation consulting game, becoming known as one of the Big 4 alongside Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC. Recently, these firms have started getting in to the strategy sphere as well. Deloitte got the ball rolling by acquiring Monitor in 2013, and EY followed it up by partnering with Parthenon in 2014. Combining strategy experience with a worldwide network, financial backing and brand-name, Parthenon-EY has grown successfully without losing the familial culture that was so important to its co-founders.
Parthenon-EY is headquartered in Boston, MA, with 26 other offices spread out across the globe. Senior Managing Director Bill Achtmeyer leads the practice, assisted by 3 other managing directors.
The practice areas at Parthenon-EY reflect the operational nature of consulting projects at the firm. Note the diversity of industries Parthenon-EY works with.
Industries At Parthenon-EY
Parthenon-EY works within almost every industry imaginable, from telecommunications to manufacturing and everything in between.
Office Locations At Parthenon-EY
Parthenon-EY has local offices in 27 cities. 4 of these offices are located in the United States, specifically in Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. The firm also has 3 offices each in India and China, which tells us something about the firm’s plans for future growth.
PARTHENON-EY CAREER PATH
Parthenon-EY projects are general strategy-esque projects, although the firm does have a reputation of focusing a lot on private equity projects. You will be doing high-level work (generally for the CEO of a company), developing plans to – when all is said and done – either increase revenues or lower costs. Every project will be different than the last, which is great if you like to work in a variety of industries and get bored easily. Generally, projects at Parthenon-EY don’t last for longer than 6 months.
Typically, undergrads will come in at the Associate Analyst level, while MBAs enter at the Associate level. You can expect it to take 1-2 years to move from Associate Analyst to Associate, and another 1-2 years to reach Senior Associate. If you want to move up to Consultant, expect to be in the Associate/Senior Associate position for 3-5 years. After another 2-3 years as a Consultant, you’ll usually have the option to move up to Director. As a Consultant, you will already be given the responsibility of helping to oversee teams to prepare you for a possible role as Director.
As an Analyst or Associate at Parthenon-EY, you will be a part of a small team (4-5 people) with opportunities to take on additional responsibility. Your team will include other Analysts, Associates, and a Consultant. Expect to be a member of two teams at the same time, as Parthenon-EY is one of a handful of firms that still subscribes to the two-case model (a great learning experience but killer for work-life balance).
In contrast to the MBB firms, you’ll be working with Fortune 1000 companies, whereas McKinsey, Bain and BCG generally work more with Fortune 100 and 500 firms. The cases you are involved with at Parthenon-EY will be unique, different, challenging and span many industries; and your role in regards to projects will vary constantly as well (although there will always be lots of Excel modeling!).
If you love big-picture thinking that can have a tremendous effect on a firm’s bottom line and future plans (or if you want to one day make the jump to MBB), Parthenon-EY is a natural place to go. If you’re looking to specialize in a particular field, industry, or type of consulting, there are better avenues for you to take. Moving from strategy consulting to a more narrow focus may be a bit tricky, as you most likely will be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. This will make it difficult to sell yourself for projects that require a specific, specialized skill set.
Our recommendation? If you really want to move to a specialized field, consider taking two or three pro bono consulting projects on the side in particular industry to gain experience. However, if you love strategy work and want to one day make the jump to MBB, Parthenon-EY is a good place to begin. The firm pays well, works with some of the biggest and most noteworthy companies in the world, and employees rave about the great company culture. In addition, the global nature of the firm will give you an opportunity to live and work overseas, as well as work on international projects, if you so desire.
Exit opportunities from Parthenon-EY are plentiful and varied. After a couple of years as Analysts, many employees decide to attend graduate school or enter industry. Many former Parthenon-EY consultants can be found working for the Fortune 1000 companies they used to consult for (more money for less hours!), and some even find their way to Silicon Valley to work with exciting new startups.
With Parthenon’s recent partnership with EY, exit opportunities are only more plentiful as consultants have a larger and more global network to tap in to as they make their next career move. As far as former Parthenon-EY consultants ending up at other firms, Bain seems to be the biggest landing spot. This makes sense, as Parthenon’s founders (and Parthenon-EY Senior Managing Director Bill Achtmeyer) are ex-Bain and the methodology and persona of the two firms are similar.
Parthenon-EY is quickly becoming an even more well-respected name in the field of strategy consulting, and top graduate programs as well as top global firms see it as good training and proving ground for young professionals they are considering hiring.
Looking to chart the next steps of your career? Schedule a Power Half Hour with us to get pointed in the right direction.
Internships At Parthenon-EY
Intern pay and training are on-par compared to what you will find at many other consulting firms, and prior interns have found it a good foot in the door for landing permanent positions. For a Summer Analyst MBA internship (10 weeks), you can expect to be paid $27,000 plus a $5,000 signing bonus.
Parthenon-EY prides itself on its tight-knit and familial culture; the firm’s genial atmosphere is no accident, and giving back to the community has always been a core value at Parthenon and EY since the beginning, with EY having a stated goal of “changing the world of work.” In fact, Senior Managing Director Bill Achtmeyer can regularly be seen taking part in firm-wide charity days with dozens of other employees. The firm has a mantra of its people being “smart, nice, and driven,” and most current and former employees agree that the people at Parthenon-EY are all three.
Compensation and benefits at Parthenon-EY are above industry-average (lower than MBB, but higher than many other comparable firms). Just to give a quick overview, base salaries for undergrad hires average about $90K, move up to around $170K for MBA hires, $210K at Director, and are upwards of $250K for Principals.
Once hired, Parthenon-EY places an emphasis on quickly getting you in to the training program and then on to projects. In fact, many current and former employees have noted that the training program provides solid opportunities for professional development. However, with the recent merger, some have also complained that processes at the firm are not as well defined as before.
Due to the firm’s private equity focus, you will be traveling less than you would at other strategy firms. With more time spent in the office together, you will have more of an opportunity to build meaningful connections with your fellow team members, and this definitely helps the firm continue to foster its tight-knit atmosphere. You will have to be intentional, however, about finding someone to mentor you. While you will have better-than-average access to higher-ups, they generally won’t offer to mentor you unless you strike up a great personal connection with them or they see something special in you. Generally, weekly meetings with your supervisor are available if you make the first move to set them up.
Finally, at Parthenon-EY they bill by project and not hours (a deviation from standard EY practices), so the work/life balance will improve the quicker you learn how to work smarter instead of harder!
PARTHENON-EY INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING
The typical hiring process from application to offer will vary largely depending upon the position that you are applying for, but you can expect the timeline to take anywhere from 2-12 weeks. Be prepared for 2-3 rounds of interviews, the first of which may consist of connecting with a recruiter for a phone screen. This is where you make your elevator pitch to give a good overall picture of who you are.
This will be followed by 1-2 rounds in the office with 2 interviews per round with Consultants and Managers (2+ years of tenure) for more specific questioning regarding your past experience and the role for which you are interested. You can expect these two interviews per round to be back-to-back and no longer than 30 minutes. The first one will generally be a behavioral (fit) interview, with maybe a small case thrown in at the end. The second will be a full case interview (Parthenon-EY case interviews usually consist of either market sizing or profitability cases). The firm employs case interviews that are typical mid-range case interviews – not as numerical as McKinsey, but more specific strategy (and numbers) than HR cases.
The final round will look like your typical final round interview – a combination of fit and case interviews, and then a group presentation thrown in at the end for good measure. The fit interview here will usually be with a Partner, and the final case interview will usually be conducted by a Consultant. Don’t neglect the fit interview questions in your interview prep! Parthenon-EY (and strategy firms in general) are looking for well rounded employees who can work with a variety of different clients on many different kinds of projects, so hiring someone who is flexible, able to adjust and easygoing is a must for them. There will be fit questions sprinkled throughout your interview process, so be prepared to answer questions such as “Why consulting?“, “What are you most proud of on your resume?“, and “What would be one challenge you would face if you joined Parthenon-EY?”
Now for the bonus round: The firm regularly asks interview finalists to make a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation for a prospective client as well. They will throw your group into a room for an hour, along with a massive binder of data, and ask you to come up with an executive-level presentation. Not only will this test your hard data analytical skills, but your soft skills as well. (Does this make you nervous? Check out our PowerPoint for Consulting course here).
Our advice: Focus only on what is most important during your presentation. You only have 15 minutes and want to make the most of your time. In your preparation time, show the firm that you know how to think like a consultant and highlight the most important data (don’t fall into the trap of focusing on everything).
Networking your way into a position at Parthenon-EY is not hard to do, if you’ve got the right education and experience. First of all, the firm hosts info sessions and career fairs at dozens of schools across the US. Access their events calendar to find out when and where you can network with someone from the firm and make sure you have your consulting-ready resume ready to leave with them.
Secondly, set up your LinkedIn profile and search for Parthenon-EY employees in your network. LinkedIn shows around 350 firm employees in the United States alone, so it’s possible you know someone who knows someone at Parthenon-EY. For tips on planning your approach and delivering your elevator pitch, read The Networking Bible.
If providing strategic advice, increasing revenue streams and PE work are your passions, you’ll be a great fit at Parthenon-EY.
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