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Category: About McKinsey, BCG, Bain (MBB)
The MBB Career Path: Seniority Levels at McKinsey, BCG, Bain
Written by Dr. Sidi S. Koné
What is the typical career path across Seniority Levels at McKinsey, BCG, or Bain?
We sometimes witness some confusion among applicants regarding the different roles and career levels across the three MBBs: 

McKinsey & Company
Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Bain & Company

There are certain roles which have the same title/name, but differ slightly in seniority (e.g., an "Associate" at BCG is not the same role as an "Associate" at McKinsey!).
However, the general career progression on the "classical" Generalist Consulting track is almost identical across the three MBB firms. 

Here is a structured description of the seniority levels for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain:

Level I

McKinsey "Business Analyst" (BA) (or "(Junior) Fellow" in some markets like Germany)

BCG “Associate”

Bain “Associate Consultant” (AC) for the first year, then "Senior AC" for year 2

Description: First two years out of undergraduate degree. Focus on gathering data/information, analyzing it, and delivering insights via documents (mostly PowerPoint) and presentations. They are guided by Level IIb and Level III colleagues on the same team (see below).

Level II

McKinsey "Associate" (ASC)

BCG “Consultant”

Bain “Consultant”

Description: First post graduate school role (but with roughly 20-50% as direct promotes or (returning after educational leave) from Level I across firms). They usually own a stream/functional area of a project. They might also oversee the work of junior colleagues (Level I and interns). Depending on tenure, associates might already become involved in mid-level client relationship building. If total tenure reaches 2.5 years, they might start to get trained as interviewers for their firm.

Level IIb

McKinsey “Junior Engagement Manager” (JEM)

BCG “Senior Consultant” / ”Acting PL”

Bain “Manager” 

Description: Third year after grad school and bridge to Project Manager role. At the latest by this point, a consultant is also expected to participate in internal events (e.g., holding seminars/trainings for other consultants) and supporting business development opportunities with clients. Not a “formal” promotion at McKinsey and BCG, but definitely a precursor for promotion/designation.

Level III

McKinsey “Engagement Manager” (EM)

BCG “Project Leader” (PL)

Bain “Senior Manager”

Description: 3–7 years after grad school and responsible for day-to-day oversight of teams and main contact for client project leader. Effectively functioning as "operating arm" of Partners. This is a formal promotion and a significant career turning point at either firm. Reaching Level III sort of proves full mastery of the general consulting toolkit in MBB quality, including team management and operational client management.

Level IV

McKinsey “Associate Partner” (AP)  (formerly called "Associate Principal")

BCG – “Principal” for the first ~2 years, then "Partner" (non equity) for ~2 more years

Bain “Associate Partner”

Description: After 2–4 years as a (successful) Project Manager (Level III). Signals greater focus on relationship management and commercial skills. Time is split across several teams to give content and context guidance. Development towards commercial responsibilities. Partner platform is built.

Level V

McKinsey “Partner”

BCG "Partner & Managing Director"

Bain “Partner”

Description: On average 6–8 years after grad school. Less involved in the daily execution of a project, and more focus on providing high-level guidance (they are responsible for project deliverables to the client). A big part of the work is dedicated to identifying and selling new consulting projects to existing and new clients. Highly engineered, formal promotion process involving a committee decision with broad spectrum of Partners from multiple global offices with stringent interviews and performance documentation process.

Level VI

McKinsey “Senior Partner”  (formerly called "Director")

BCG "Senior Partner & Managing Director"

Bain “Senior Partner/Director” (internal only)

Description: Effectively, these are Partners with significant tenure. Exact mechanics are a little vague, but generally Partners with 4+ years experience in the role with a consistent track record of client impact, commercial success, followership among younger consultants, and meaningful IP development.
Sometimes there are certain office-specific nuances and sub-levels within those brackets. For example, in some countries at BCG, there is an additional differenciation between "Junior Associate", "Associate", and "Senior Associate". 

But in the interest of clarity, we opted to limit this article to the big significant brackets which should give you already a very decent understanding of how you might move across the ranks throughout your career at McKinsey, BCG, or Bain.

How we can help you break you into McKinsey, BCG, or Bain

If you, as an applicant at one of the big strategy consulting firms, would like to learn how to ensure success in your interviews with McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, then feel free to apply for a free initial consultation with us. In this free session we will find out whether we can help you, and if so, how we can help you to reach your goal of joining a firm like McKinsey, BCG, or Bain & Company. 

Within the last years, we have helped more than 350 people to receive job offers from the three MBB companies! On average, every single week, two of our clients are signing an employment contract with either McKinsey, BCG, or Bain.

About the author: 
Dr. Sidi S. Koné

Former Senior Engagement Manager and Interviewer at McKinsey & Company | Former Senior Consultant at BCG

About The MBB Offer Machine™

We help aspiring graduates, young professionals, and seasoned topic experts to ensure success in their job interviews with the world's most reputable Strategy Consulting Firms.

We place a special emphasis on "MBB":
  • McKinsey & Company
  • ​Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
  • ​Bain & Company

About the author: 
Dr. Sidi S. Koné

Former Senior Engagement Manager and Interviewer at McKinsey & Company | Former Senior Consultant at BCG

About the author: 
Dr. Sidi S. Koné

Former Senior Engagement Manager and Interviewer at McKinsey & Company | Former Senior Consultant at BCG
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