An associate consultant, also called a junior consultant, plays an important role in the business consulting industry. Working under the direction of a senior consultant, he or she will conduct research and gather the necessary data that will then be used to help resolve business problems. A McKinsey associate is considered a consultant to many other firms. Usually, these employees have earned their MBA and have chosen an area of specialization.
Associates work closely with key company leaders and make strategy and implementation recommendations.
Associate consultantsand consultants often work in different environments. Associate consultants usually work for a company that hires them to provide consulting services to its clients. They may travel to meet with clients, but they often work from the office where they work.
Consultants are independent professionals who work on projects for clients without an employer. They can also travel to meet with clients or conduct research. Joining a consulting firm as an analyst is the typical entry point after graduating from college. Principal consultants will nurture and manage the talent of their team, in addition to having to address some of the most difficult business problems.
Associate consultants often work with higher-level consultants and learn from them as they complete projects. Some employers may prefer candidates who have experience working in consulting or a related field, but it's not always required. However, a consultant performs these tasks full time for one client instead of for multiple clients like an associate consultant does. The difference between an associate and a consultant at McKinsey focuses on additional responsibilities.
In the beginning, the top consulting firms were led by people who had careers in other industries and specific knowledge. In addition to working with clients, consultants are under pressure to develop a “specialization” or “topic” that will allow them to become a reference person for many clients in the future. Consultants often have extensive experience in their field and can provide unbiased and objective advice. In terms of responsibilities and time in office, the functions of the three main consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain and BCG) are very similar.
Both associate consultants and consultants must have excellent analytical skills to be successful in their roles. For example, a consultant who plans to advise companies on marketing strategies might have experience working as a marketing manager. After two to five years as analysts, candidates who prove their worth can get promoted to associate analyst or consultant. Consultants usually need at least a bachelor's degree, although many also have a master's degree.
Partners will manage the most important aspects of the problem-solving process and will be responsible for presenting findings and making recommendations.