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How many hours does a consultant work? A Bain case study

Posted by Khaled Kteily on in All About Consulting
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A thank you to Nevin Kamath from The Case Coach for his post about this data. Take a look at the following chart to see the results of a Bain case study and click through to get some further insight into the ups and downs of the consulting lifestyle.

 

Taken from http://www.thecasecoach.com/how-many-hours-do-consultants-work-a-bain-case-study/:

There at least 2 things worth noting re: work/life balance –

  • A long client project will involve consistent peaks and valleys of work, with peaks of up to 80 hours and valleys hovering around 50 hours. Check out the 6 month financial services study that Greg notes above; I would be willing to bet that the 65-75 hour peak weeks correlate with what we called “client progress reviews” at McKinsey.
  • Training and beach time are keys to a balanced consulting life. Check the two “low” times on Greg’s chart above. Consultant trainings are wonderful, by the way: not only do you get to see old friends and make new ones, but also develop your consulting toolkit (ie, hard skills like charting and modeling, but also soft skills like influence, persuasion, and presentation).

Special thanks to Greg for posting this rich data source. You can follow him on Twitter @gkamstra.

Update: There is a another slide looking how 2011 played out for an Associate Consultant at Bain here.

  • It’s interesting to note the similarity: over a year, an average week turns out to be around 56 hours but there is significant variance on a week to week basis.
  • The “Extra 10%” that the slide refers to is classic firm-building work: Recruiting, Social Impact, Office events, etc.
  • Special thanks to @Bain_AC for sharing.

Comments

  • Sam Jackson Jan 14, 2013

    This is awesome. Do you know the BCG / HBR study? Did that have as interesting tidbits come out of it?

    Also, as much as I hate Disqus, I wish you had cookies so I don't have to fill in my name again here. Registering not a good solution? You should have a call to action or something.

  • Khaled Kteily Jan 14, 2013

    If you register it automatically fills out your info. Which article are you referring to?

  • Ex-Consultant Feb 17, 2014

    Great article.
    However, in Asia and Germany the peaks are usually >100 hours per week and the average is around 70.

  • ergo ego Aug 06, 2015

    I am wondering, once you've been working for example for Bain/McKinsey as a consultant, when you get promoted to a manager, do working hours actually decrease or increase? What is working-life balance then?

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