The Keystone Group is a boutique management consulting firm you may never have heard of… until today.
In this in-depth Firm Profile, we’ll dive into the inner workings of The Keystone Group to uncover the insights you’re looking for as they relate to careers, culture, salary, interviews, and much more.
Whether you’re learning about the firm for fun or considering a career with The Keystone Group, you’ll walk away with intricate knowledge about the company and why it is different from the million other boutique firms out there. Enough with the introduction – let’s jump in!
Table of Contents:
- The Keystone Group Key Stats
- The Keystone Group History
- The Keystone Group Careers
- Practice Areas
- Career Path
- Exit Opportunities
- Notable Alumni
- The Keystone Group Culture
- The Keystone Group Internships
- The Keystone Group Interview
- The Keystone Group Salary
- Target Schools
The Keystone Group Key Stats
- The Keystone Group Website: www.thekeystonegroup.com/
- The Keystone Group Headquarters: Chicago, IL
- Number of Employees: 40
- Number of Locations: 3
- The Keystone Group Chief Executive: Amar Shah (Managing Partner)
- The Keystone Group Revenue: ~$20M
The Keystone Group History
Before learning about culture and careers, it will be helpful to discuss The Keystone Group history. If you ultimately pursue a position at the firm, knowledge of its history will serve you well.
Founded by consulting expert Andy Rolfe in 1991, The Keystone Group began as a client-focused firm in Chicago, IL. The idea was that the firm would differentiate itself by genuinely putting client interests first.
Prioritizing small team-based planning, the Keystone Group operates under an ethos focused on offering financially sound solutions and business strategies to clients across multiple industries, but with a focus on manufacturing and distribution.
The Keystone Group has experienced steady growth over the years, building from one location to three across the U.S. It believes that a focus on building partnerships, not just offering consulting advice, is a true differentiator.
In 2016, The Keystone Group entered a new chapter when founder Andy Rolfe transitioned into an advisory role and the company elevated Amar Shah to Managing Partner.
The Keystone Group Careers
The Keystone Group careers involve exciting strategy, growth, and restructuring work. The firm offers career opportunities for students and experienced professionals alike – search for open roles here.
TKG’s organizational hierarchy is structured much like a diamond, with a small team of analysts at the bottom, a large number of Associates and Principals making up the middle, and a few Partners at the top. No matter where you fall in the hierarchy, you will be given a significant amount of responsibility from day one, whether that’s conducting data analysis, communicating insights to the team or client, managing the client, driving the workstream forward, or else.
And – good news for many – TKG does not have an up-or-out model like most of consulting, so you can build your career at the firm how you want to build it.
With three locations across the United States, prospective employees at The Keystone Group also have multiple cities to choose from when applying.
The Keystone Group Practice Areas
Described as the company’s “Service Lines,” The Keystone Group practice areas are divided into four key specialties.
- Profitable Growth Strategy – identifying and prioritizing paths to driving top-line revenue growth.
- Operational Improvement – driving operational excellence and performance within key functions like manufacturing, supply chain, and sales planning.
- Restructuring & Turnaround – helping underperforming organizations improve profitability, generate cash, and build a solid operating foundation.
- Mergers & Acquisitions – working with buyers to identify and evaluate potential companies to purchase, which includes conducting operational due diligence before an acquisition, integration planning, and execution.
The Keystone Group Industries
TKG’s bread and butter is in manufacturing and distribution, and the firm leverages this expertise across sectors, including:
- Agricultural Products
- Building Products
- Business Services
- Consumer Products
- Energy/Oil & Gas
- Food & Beverage
- Industrial Equipment
- Metal Fabrication
- Rental Products
- Specialty Chemicals
- Transportation & Logistics
The Keystone Group Locations
The Keystone Group locations can be found in three major cities in the United States.
- Chicago (HQ)
- Los Angeles
With a focus on meritocracy and upward mobility, The Keystone Group encourages its employees to progressively grow and develop. Therefore, the typical Keystone Group career path begins with the role of Analyst and moves upwards to the role of Partner. Included below is a brief outline of the different roles in The Keystone Group career path:
- Analyst – as an introductory role in the firm, Analysts focus on gathering information and data, as well as making recommendations to clients.
- Associate – with more responsibility than the role of the Analyst, Associates do many of the same activities, with a higher level of engagement with clients.
- Principal – focusing on project management and supervision, Principals oversee daily operations and build relationships with clients.
- Partner – as the highest-level leadership role, Partners not only oversee projects and engage with clients, but they also offer mentorship to employees.
Exit opportunities at The Keystone Group aren’t too shabby. Now, breaking into a Tier 1 firm (McKinsey, Bain, or BCG) is difficult – but not impossible. You will have to clearly communicate your experience in a way that those firms care about, highlighting your top performer status and elite consulting skillset.
Other Keystone exit opportunities include moving into private equity (because of the firm’s work in M&A and restructuring) or even taking on a position in a Fortune 1000 company in manufacturing or distribution (perhaps for a satisfied TKG client!). In addition, former Keystone Group employees often find roles as business executives within start-up or smaller companies across industries.
Or, like the firm’s founder, many alumni of The Keystone Group have started their own consulting companies or moved into higher-level management and leadership positions at other consultancies.
Any list of The Keystone Group notable alumni can quickly become quite long. The firm has been around for a while, and even successful consultants often stick around for just a few years before leaving and taking on new roles. The below list is just a small sample of The Keystone Group notable alumni, and also functions as an example of Keystone exit opportunities and career trajectories that former, current, and future employees could follow:
- James Talarek – Chief Operating Officer at IMS Companies, LLC
- Brian Marks – Senior Vice President at Houlihan Lokey
- Chris Meyers – Chief Financial Officer at Amsted Industries
- William McGhee – Founder and CEO at Sequoia Company Inc
The Keystone Group Culture
As a smaller consulting firm, The Keystone Group offers a more close-knit culture than your typical management consulting firm.
In 2021, Vault ranked The Keystone Group #1 in firm culture due to the firm’s family-like and supportive working environment. This is primarily accomplished through a focus on work-life balance, mentorship, and a community-minded take on corporate culture. The team at The Keystone Group is a close-knit group of people that has a lot of fun and does excellent, impactful work for clients.
Work/life balance at Keystone is positive. The firm is working towards a move towards a flexible working model and encourages employees to take vacation time. You’ll still work 50-60 hours most weeks, but that’s to be expected for consulting.
The firm has a culture of feedback and employees are encouraged to take advantage of the firm’s open-door policy to share ideas.
Employees rave about the opportunity to make a real and positive difference for the firm’s clients. In addition, members of the firm enjoy the close client interaction – working side-by-side with clients on an implementation project, for example. Even as an analyst, you can interact with and impact C-suite level executives within your first year at the firm.
Employees at The Keystone Group are given a high level of responsibility on every project. They are empowered to own a work stream, solve problems, and even lead initiatives. There are many training opportunities throughout the year where TKG employees can grow their business knowledge. The firm has a strong culture of learning and development – there are endless opportunities for growth.
One downside about working at Keystone? The lack of brand recognition. While the firm is respected inside the industry, not many people outside of it will have heard of the firm. This just means you’ll have to network a little bit harder when you decide to leave the firm for industry – you’re not likely to automatically impress industry recruiters when you say you work at The Keystone Group.
Another potential negative is the travel. At The Keystone Group, you travel consistently during the week. However, though the hours can be long, weekend work is a rarity. If the extensive travel isn’t an issue for you, the list of pros is decidedly longer than the list of cons for TKG!
- Top “Operations & Turnaround Consulting Firm” in Management Consulted’s Ranking of Top Consulting Firms (2023)
- #13 in the Vault “Consulting Top 50”
- #1 in Vault’s “Best Consulting Firms for Firm Culture”
- #4 in Vault’s “Best Boutique Consulting Firms”
- 2015 National Large Turnaround Of The Year
The Keystone Group Internships
The Keystone Group offers internship programs at the undergraduate level. Keystone internships offer a chance for candidates to get to know the firm and the type of work it engages in, and also for the firm to get an extended look at potential future consultants.
The Keystone Group also offers a program called the “Consultant Development Program (CDP).” Learn more about internships at The Keystone Group and apply here.
The Keystone Group Interview
Now that you know more about the culture at The Keystone Group, it’s time to think about The Keystone Group interviews. Like the recruiting process at most management consulting firms, The Keystone Group interview is a multi-step process. There are typically three rounds of interviews for TKG.
Round 1: Behavioral/fit interview. In this round, you’ll be asked questions about your prior experience, your personality, strengths and weaknesses, etc. At The Keystone Group, cultural fit is an even more important consideration than at other firms, so really spend time preparing for the fit portion of your interviews.
Round 2: One case interview and one behavioral interview. The case interview will test your analytical, quantitative, and problem-solving skills, and is in the interviewee-led style. The behavioral interview here will be similar to the first one, but more in-depth.
Round 3: In-person visit to the Chicago office to meet the team. This round is to assess cultural fit across the firm. You’ll meet a lot of the team at TKG and spend a full day (in most instances) at the office and at lunch with the team.
The interview process is no walk in the park – interviews are conducted by members of the firm’s leadership team, and only a few candidates get an offer out of hundreds that apply. The good news is that, as of now, you will not face a digital assessment or group case interview during the Keystone Group interview process. Work with our expert team of interview coaches to get ready for your interviews!
- 8 hours 1:1 Zoom sessions with MBB coach of your choice
- All access pass: 600+ cases, 10K+ math/structure drills, 9 video courses, 18 chatbot cases
- 2 Rounds of Edits each on 1 Resume and 1 Cover Letter
- Exclusive group training (Dec. 19, 1-3PM ET)
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The Keystone Group Salary
The Keystone Group salary is competitive for entry-level positions, but quickly rises over the course of a career. The base salary (bonuses not included) at the entry-level Analyst role starts out at $100,000. Get more salaries – for 90+ consulting firms – in Management Consulted’s annual salaries report.
The Keystone Group primarily recruits from 5 programs at the undergraduate level:
The firm conducts on-campus visits (virtual or in-person) each fall. You can visit the company website to see a regularly updated schedule of The Keystone Group’s on-campus and virtual events.
The Keystone Group is committed to making a difference in communities; therefore diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the top of this firm’s list of concerns. The firm’s main way of carrying this out is through its recruiting function and goals and its dedicated recruiting team at Howard University.
As one of the top ranked boutique management consulting firms in the United States, The Keystone Group offers multiple opportunities for professional growth and development. The kicker though? The firm’s collegial, tight-knit culture. If you like the sound of that, get your application ready and get prepped for the tough interviews with the help of our expert team.
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