The economic situation in Europe might still be the largest of the "known unknowns" facing the world's economy. Seemingly balanced on a knife-edge, anything other than positive news from the likes of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy has the potential to send world markets into chaos—to say nothing of conditions within some of those countries (unemployment currently stands at 11.4% across the Eurozone, while youth unemployment in Spain is currently above 50%, having crossed the 40% threshold in 2009).
That backdrop surely makes the work being undertaken by consultants in the region some of the most challenging around. How do you make recommendations with so much uncertainty around? At what point do you allow the uncertainty to temper your decisions, and when do you press on despite it? And how do you account for variables such as the likelihood of a government being toppled, or even the possibility of the currency you're pricing a deal in falling apart at the seams?
As Vault's 2013 European Consulting Rankings make clear, firms in the region have been doing a remarkable job of balancing all of those needs, with both global and regional players beginning to tentatively add capabilities following the retrenchment of the past couple of years. And, while firms have dialed back the kind of perks that were on offer to employees just a few years ago, the difficult economic circumstances have actually made consulting a more attractive option for many: not only do consultants get to work on genuinely challenging problems for clients, but the leaner structures at many of the firms are translating into more opportunities for consultants to lead projects, work internationally, and progress through the ranks at their firms.
Without further ado, then, here are the Vault 2013 European Rankings, complete with some of the top takeaways for those weighing up the potential differences of life at firms in the region.
The Top 10 European Consulting Firms to Work For are:
McKinsey employees praised the firm for its training opportunities, diversity and firm culture. One survey respondent noted that McKinsey is "highly committed to training and development and mentorship at all levels," offers a "very diverse working experience and opportunities to work with the not-for-profit and public sector," and has "lots of diversity of people and a very fun, 'can do' working culture"—all attributes that come across in the individual Best to Work For rankings.
Bain & Company Dominates Best to Work For Rankings – But McKinsey Not Too Far Behind
Bain continued its strong showing in Vault's European Consulting Best to Work For Rankings, taking the No. 1 spot in 14 out of 25 categories – Overall Satisfaction, Firm Culture, Supervisor Relationships, Compensation, Formal Training, Promotion Policy, International Opportunities, Green Policies, Philanthropy Program, and all Diversity categories (Overall, Women, Minorities, LGBT Individuals, and Disabled).
An employee at Bain stated, "You cannot go wrong working at Bain—even for only a while, the skills and contacts you will gain will help you throughout your life." Another employee at the firm added that Bain offers a "Strong focus on work/life balance - both formal and informal," and offers a "Good feedback loop in case team members feel their work-life balance is compromised."
While Bain may came out on top in many of the Best to Work For Rankings, McKinsey was never too far behind. The firm took the No. 1 spot in eight categories—Hiring Process, Client Interaction, Benefits, Informal Training, Ability to Challenge, Internal Mobility, Innovation in the Industry, Firm Leadership, and Business Outlook—and placed in the top 5 in every other category.
Candesic was the only other firm to earn a No. 1 ranking in this year's Best to Work For rankings, taking the top spot in three categories—Work-Life Balance, Hours, and Travel Requirements. Employees at the firm applauded Candesic for the experiences they receive at work, with one stating, "At Candesic, you will get a great combination between demanding work and a good work/life balance. Given the company size, you will work closely with the partners and need to be ready for a 'family' environment. From day one, you will get big responsibilities and client meetings."
McKinsey Named Most Prestigious Consulting Firm; No 1 in Five Practice Area Rankings
In addition to retaining its position at the top of the prestige rankings, McKinsey also emerged as the leading firm in a number of separate Practice Area Rankings. The firm overtook Boston Consulting Group as the No. 1 ranked firm in Management Consulting, and also took the top spot in Operations Consulting, with consultants narrowly preferring it over Accenture, last year's top firm. McKinsey also retained its top position in Economic Consulting, Energy Consulting, and Financial Consulting. Survey respondents from peer firms applauded McKinsey's work, stating that the consulting giant is the "market leader," "highly prestigious," "hardworking," "very professional, friendly and frankly the best." Another consulting insider added that "the dream of most people is to work here."
Boston Consulting Group was voted as the top firm in both Strategy Consulting and Health Care Consulting. Peer consultants called BCG "lead strategists," "Top 3," a "strong brand," "impressive," "innovative and on the ball." Another respondent added that Boston Consulting Group "has been the "alternative" consulting firm for a long time," but is "now becoming more mainstream."
Hay Group took the No. 1 ranking in HR Consulting, ahead of last year's top firm, Mercer Limited. Respondents called Hay Group the "leaders in HR issues." In addition, Accenture, who consultants called "IT experts" and "IT specialists," held on to its spot at the top in IT Consulting.
View the entire Vault European Consulting Rankings.