I Stayed in Consulting Because…

Former Partners from McKinsey, BCG, and A.T. Kearney reveal why they waited to leave consulting.

1. I liked the work, the colleagues, and the clients.

Dave Rickard spent sixteen years at BCG, including nine as Partner. He left to join Uline as Vice President of Continuous Improvement. Dave says, “When I joined out of business school I thought I would stay two to five years… I think it was a combination of interesting work, the colleagues that I got to work with, and then ultimately developing relationships with some of my clients that kept it very interesting and appealing, so I stayed a lot longer than I initially expected.” As Dave developed relationships with his clients, he wanted to continue to see them succeed. “I wanted to stay with them through the course of their own business cycle.”

2. Few other opportunities were as compelling.

Usman Rabbani worked at McKinsey for eight years, leaving at the Partner level to join KKR Capstone as Director, Technology Operating Lead. An expert in technology, Usman frequently received calls from recruiters. “I used to seriously consider one or two opportunities every year, and I think that’s a healthy habit for people in management consulting,” he says. “But I never found a mix of things that was as compelling as what McKinsey had to offer, until Raines International called about the role at KKR.” At that time, Usman had written a plan to stay at McKinsey for the rest of his career. “I felt that there were very few things that could be as compelling as what I had. KKR happened to be one of them.”

3. There was more to learn.

Gil Krakowsky joined A.T. Kearney with the intent to exit into industry a couple of years later. He ended up leaving seven years later as Partner, and now serves as Executive Director of Global Strategy at Gap, Inc. “The pace of my career path kept me in the game. There was always the promise of another level of seniority, another bump in compensation, and another set of challenges… I felt like I had entrepreneurial control of what I wanted to do, and I felt like I was learning a lot.”

4. Tenure in consulting matters.

Delaney Steele joined BCG right out of undergrad and stayed there for thirteen years, leaving as a Partner. Now, as SVP of Strategy & Marketing at Ross Stores, Inc., Delaney has built out the company’s Strategy team. From a hiring perspective, tenure in consulting matters. The number of years someone spent in consulting can be very influential. There is a difference between a Junior Principal and a Senior Principal in terms of the number of years of experience they’ve had presenting and facilitating conversations with senior leaders.”

These former Partners remained engaged in consulting because of interesting work, smart colleagues, and client relationships. And, importantly, they made a choice not to leave consulting until they found an opportunity that would be at least as compelling as their current role.