Is doing an MBA beneficial for a Consultant returning to consulting?


It is 18 months since I returned to consulting following my MBA at INSEAD.  The question I am asked by many associates is “If I want to stay in consulting should I do an MBA?”


Becoming an L.E.K. Consultant


At L.E.K. there are, generally speaking, two primary ways to become a “Consultant”. Firstly, there are those who come via the MBA route. Usually they won’t have been a Consultant before but have valuable experience from previous employment and, on completing their MBA, choose to enter consulting.  Secondly, there are those who are promoted within L.E.K. from Associate level, to Associate Consultant, to Senior Associate Consultant, then Consultant.


Both these routes are common at L.E.K. and represent 90% of the Consultants I currently know at the firm.  So who are the other 10%?  Simply people like me.  I have completed some of the more junior roles at L.E.K., then I did the MBA. Did I really need the MBA? Couldn’t I just have been one of the “straight through”?


Why do the MBA?


It is definitely true that you can be an effective Consultant without an MBA.  In fact, many Partners and Senior Managers who I particularly respect do not hold an MBA and are amazing at their role.  But the majority of our Partners and Senior Managers do hold an MBA which, in London, are normally from INSEAD or Harvard. 


These are my top three reasons why I believe Consultants should complete an MBA: 

  1. It will provide you with new ideas to make you more effective in the Consultant role. I found the MBA formalised my business education; I often find myself using things I learned from the teaching staff as well as from my classmates;
  2. It allows you to build personal and professional relationships and expand your network. This is no cliché, it really is the case!  I have already worked with several INSEADers inside and outside L.E.K. within only 18 months of returning to the office; and
  3. It makes you more open to unique opportunities. In the New Year I will move to our Tokyo office and, in reality, I think my MBA experience made this a more attractive option to me. Knowing I will have an MBA network as soon as I land in a new city, alongside great memories of having lived in France, Singapore and the USA as part of my MBA has made me more likely to seek out unique office swaps than I might otherwise have done.