If you are a candidate culling your list of office choices, or a current consultant looking to make a lateral move, you’ll want to carefully review the consulting firms in Chicago. The Windy City has no shortage of management consulting firms and, as one of the largest cities in the US, it is famed for its bold architecture and fervent business activity.
Today, we’re taking a look at the top 10 consulting firms in Chicago – from MBB to boutiques and from mid-sized firms to the largest Chicago consulting firms. Let’s get started!
Top 10 Consulting Firms in Chicago
As the “M” in “MBB,” it’s no surprise that McKinsey checks in as the top consulting firm in Chicago. McKinsey Chicago was the firm’s first ever office and is still one of McKinsey’s largest. Working at McKinsey Chicago will give you a taste of life in the vibrant city, and expose you to a range of high-profile clients and industries. McKinsey Chicago serves a variety of sectors including consumer goods, retail, financial services, public sector, healthcare, tech, and more.
Bain Chicago has been around since 1992. The office has a Chicagoan feel to it to reflect the city’s culture. If you choose Bain Chicago, you can expect to be placed on engagements for any number of companies – from small to mid-sized Midwestern companies, all the way up to massive Fortune 500 firms. Working for Bain, you can expect to work on interesting strategy problems for one of the world’s foremost consultancies.
Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Rounding out the top 3 consulting firms in Chicago is the last Big 3 firm, BCG. In operation for over 50 years, BCG Chicago carries a lot of history, just like the city around it. The Chicago office is one of BCG’s largest and most influential locations, making it an exciting place to plant your roots. BCG Chicago prides itself on maintaining long-term relationships with its clients. In addition, many members of BCG’s Chicago office work locally, taking advantage of the firm’s broad client base in the area.
Kearney (formerly A.T. Kearney) got its start in Chicago as a branch of another firm you may recognize: McKinsey and Company. Kearney eventually split off and became its own entity – and a quite successful one at that. With offices in more than 40 countries around the world, Kearney is a global consulting firm and one of the largest in Chicago. Kearney is known for its sourcing, operations, and procurement work. If you join Kearney in Chicago, you can expect to join a storied franchise in a storied city.
ZS Associates is a boutique consulting firm that cut its teeth doing sales and marketing consulting for life sciences and pharma clients. Founded by former Kellogg School of Management professors, the firm maintains its global headquarters in Chicago. Today, the firm has broadened its scope beyond sales and marketing to include outsourcing, technology, and software. The firm also serves more industries than just life sciences or pharma, although its strongest relationships remain in that space. ZS Chicago is a great place for self-motivated people looking to cut their teeth in consulting.
Focusing on consumer goods, finance, media, and retail, The Cambridge Group is one of the top ranked boutique consulting firms. The firm has its lone office in Chicago. 95% of employees travel one day a week or less, making TCG even more attractive for those looking to spend most of their time in Chicago. The Cambridge Group specializes in growth strategy – no cost cutting or operational work – which makes it unique in the consulting space.
Founded in 1991, The Keystone Group is a consulting firm headquartered in Chicago. TKG works primarily with mid-market manufacturing and distribution clients and offers services around 3 key areas: strategy & operations, operational turnaround, and M&A integration. The Keystone Group is a consistently top-rated firm, winning a Vault award for best firm culture in 2021. Working for TKG will give you the opportunity to work in small teams with plenty of client interaction.
FTI Consulting is a unicorn in the consulting and advisory space, specializing in legal analysis and data-driven research to support law firms, banks, and the Fortune 500. FTI Consulting prides itself on helping companies manage change, mitigate risks, and resolve disputes in a number of industries, the most prominent being financial services and legal. With 2 offices in Chicago, you have even more options to live and work in the Windy City! People working in the Chicago offices report that the firm offers the perks of a large firm (scale, benefits) while maintaining the culture and camaraderie of a small firm.
West Monroe Partners is a primarily tech consulting firm made up of teams with deep technical and functional expertise that collaborate to drive business growth using technology. The firm’s Chicago office is its largest and serves a wide range of clients across all practice areas and sectors. If tech and business consulting is your passion, West Monroe Chicago may be the office and firm for you.
Slalom Consulting is a growing strategy consulting firm with a focus on tech enablement. Slalom Chicago is home to over 800 employees, and is known for being a fun, vibrant place to build a career. Slalom places an emphasis on work-life balance – a sight uncommon in the corporate world. If you’re interested in a good work-life balance with a rapidly growing consulting firm, consider Slalom Consulting in Chicago.
A few firms didn’t crack our top 10 Chicago consulting firms, but deserve an honorable mention, nonetheless. In no particular order:
AArete is a management consulting firm that is data-driven to the core. AArete prides itself on translating data into insights to drive profitability for its clients. Working in AArete’s Chicago office will offer you a fun, fast-paced environment to grow and advance in your career.
Although Axiom Consulting Partners was founded in Chicago in 2005, it has since expanded in the U.S. and Europe. Axiom is focused on helping its clientele transform and grow via a combination of Artificial Intelligence and behavioral science.
Huron Consulting is an HR-focused consultancy based in Chicago but employs thousands of consultants in dozens of offices around the world. Employees cite fantastic benefits and plenty of opportunities for growth at Huron.
Stax Inc. is a strategy consultancy with a strong Chicago presence. The firm is primarily focused on advising the M&A activity and portfolio management of its Private Equity clients.
Chicago is one of the biggest players in the world when it comes to consulting firms. In a city as diverse as Chicago, there is something for everyone.
We hope this article has given you insight into some of the top consulting firms found in the Windy City. Of course, after you choose a Chicago firm, the next big decision left to make: Cubs or White Sox?
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