Consulting Careers for PhDs

Credit: blossomstar/iStockphoto/thinkstock

Credit: blossomstar/iStockphoto

It doesn’t matter all that much what your Ph.D. is in—the important thing is the analytical approach you bring, writes Brian Rolfes, partner and director of global recruiting at McKinsey & Company, in an e-mail. “That said,” Rolfes adds, “we are delighted when new hires have specific domain knowledge that is relevant to our clients. People with training in electrical engineering may be suited to serve high-tech clients like the telecom industry. And in our healthcare work we have many people with biology, genetics, bioengineering or organic chemistry backgrounds, including a good number of M.D.s.” Quantitative analysis skills are especially desirable. To be a strong candidate for a consultant job, a scientist should also be effective on teams, have great communication skills, and be able to point to a record of making a difference inside and outside the lab.

One thing that isn’t required—surprisingly—is business knowledge. Most Ph.D. consultants do need to learn business skills, concepts, and terminology, Bennett says, but that challenge is quickly overcome by the training that consulting firms provide their entry-level recruits. Sometimes, they just learn this stuff on the job.

If you are a PhD and you are considering switching to consulting, read on. html.