Career Death Match: Goldman vs. McKinsey

by Derek Loosvelt | December 20, 2010

Here on Career Death Match, you've previously seen some of the fiercest rivals go head to head in a duel to the death. Last season, you saw McDonald’s tear Burger King a new orifice, Hooters smother Applebee’s, and General Dynamics bomb the bejeezus out of Lockheed Martin. But you've never seen anything like the battle you're about to witness today.

In an unprecedented industry-crossover Career Death Match, the investment bank that everybody loves to hate as of late, Goldman Sachs, will take on the strategy-savvy super men and women of the uber-elite and iconic management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company.

We expect the fight between these often respected, often spit upon, frequently deemed to be extremely arrogant and overpaid firms to be fair and (the way we like it on Career Death Match) very dirty.

The contenders are entering the ring now. Let the match begin.


Age
Goldman Sachs: 141 years old
McKinsey & Co.: 84 years old
Edge: Goldman

Founder’s First Profession
Goldman Sachs: Schoolteacher (Marcus Goldman)
McKinsey & Co.: Professor of accounting (James. O. “Mac” McKinsey”)
Edge: Even

Best Business Principle
Goldman Sachs: “Provide superior returns to our shareholders”
McKinsey & Co.: “Behave as professionals”
Edge: McKinsey

Profit/Employee
Goldman Sachs: $375,000 (FY ’09)
McKinsey & Co.: Undisclosed
Edge: Goldman

The Buzz*
Goldman Sachs: “Arrogant,” “kings of the Street” whose crown has been “a bit tarnished” but “despite the bad press, still the most prestigious”
McKinsey: "Ivory tower intellectuals"; "CEO academy"; "arrogant firm, arrogant people"; "gold standard, but not invincible"
Edge: Even

Animal It Most Resembles
Goldman Sachs: Vampire squid
McKinsey & Co.: Black stallion (rare and regal, but willing to take you for a ride)
Edge: McKinsey

Interview Process*
Goldman Sachs: “Vigorous and intensive”; “candidates are vetted thoroughly”; “Super Day -- a series of two-on-one interviews -- is rigorous”
McKinsey & Co.: "Rigorous but fair"; "no surprises and no tricks"; "provides case coaches before each round of interviewing: very helpful!"
Edge: Even

Quotable CEOs
Goldman Sachs: "I'm doing God's work." (Lloyd Blankfein)
McKinsey & Co.: "I loved the Land Rovers. I used to play in the back of his, until one day he drove off." (Dominic Barton on Ugandan dictator Idi Amin)
Edge: Goldman

Managers*
Goldman Sachs: "At very high levels, they’re personable, supportive and outwardly take active interests in junior issues and development, but quality of lower-ranking managers varies"
McKinsey & Co.: "Surprisingly supportive, warm and welcoming"
Edge: McKinsey

Culture*
Goldman Sachs: "Intense environment, challenging situations, the opportunity to work with very talented and intellectual individuals” who, at times, can be “overly competitive,” “which can detract from the overall work environment”
McKinsey & Co.: "Ideas; fun; people who go out of their way to help each other be successful"
Edge: McKinsey

Big Clients (Past and Present)
Goldman Sachs: Sears, Ford, Microsoft, GE, God
McKinsey & Co.: Enron (see “Infamous Alums”), AT&T (see “Biggest Blunder”), Swissair (bankrupt/defunct), Kmart (bankrupt/reorganized)
Edge: Goldman

Hours*
Goldman Sachs: “Don’t expect to have a life”
McKinsey & Co.: "The range is extreme, depending on the study; certainly, some studies are very manageable, but others make it difficult to meet personal commitments"
Edge: McKinsey

Famous Alums
Goldman Sachs: Henry Paulson, former US Treasury Secretary; Jon Corzine, former New Jersey Governor; Jim Cramer, crazy CNBC commentator; Robert Rubin, former US Treasury Secretary and National Economic Council Chairman; Stephen Friedman, former Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board Chairman for President G.W. Bush and former Federal Reserve Bank of NY Chairman
McKinsey & Co.: Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN; Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor and former member of US House of Representatives; James Gorman, Morgan Stanley CEO; Louis Gerstner, head of Carlyle Group and former IBM CEO; Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary
Edge: Goldman

Infamous Alums
Goldman Sachs: Fabrice “Fab  Fab” Tourre (former Goldman VP currently on leave from the firm and awaiting trial in connection with a suit brought by the SEC)
McKinsey & Co.: Jeff Skilling (former Enron CEO and convicted felon currently serving a 24-year, four-month term in federal prison)
Edge: Goldman

Vault No. 1 Rankings 2010*
Goldman Sachs: #1 Best to Work For, #1 Prestige, #1 Overall Diversity, #1 Diversity with Respect to Gays and Lesbians, #1 Diversity with Respect to Minorities
McKinsey & Co.: #1 Prestige, #1 Firm Leadership, #1 Formal Training, #1 Overall Business Outlook, #1 Promotion Policies, #1 Relationships with Supervisors, #1 Satisfaction, #1 Selectivity
Edge: McKinsey

Biggest Blunder
Goldman Sachs: Failing to disclose it was shorting securities that it was also selling to investors
McKinsey & Co.: Telling AT&T in 1980 that, by 2000, there would be 900,000 cell phones in circulation (by 2000, there were, in fact, 109 million)
Edge: McKinsey

OVERALL SCORE
Goldman Sachs: 6
McKinsey & Co.: 7
Even: 3

WINNER: McKinsey!


*Quotes taken from Vault’s 2010 Banking and Consulting Surveys

(Additional reporting: Sam Reynolds)

Filed Under: Finance


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