The "original" consulting firm
Despite only opening its Aussie offices in Sydney and Melbourne in 1994, Kearney (as it rebranded from AT Kearney in January 2020) has been around for nearly 100 years. This makes Kearney one of the oldest consulting firms in the world, sharing its roots with McKinsey. In fact, Kearney’s predecessor firm was founded by James McKinsey himself, before it split and changed its name after Mr McKinsey passed away. Whilst it isn’t a Tier 1 MBB firm, Kearney is probably the most prestigious amongst the Tier 2 category, with its consultants held in high regard by those in the market. More often than not, you will see an ex-Kearney consultant make exits into PE, management at ASX100 companies or founding a start-up.
Kearney places a significant emphasis on fostering a collegiate culture, and the small graduate cohorts are known to be very tight-knit and friendly. The culture is quintessential “work hard, play hard”, as the hours can be quite demanding but it is often counterbalanced with plenty of office socials and events. The Sydney office fully embraces this mindset, with its offices in the Museum of Contemporary Arts building overlooking Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. What better way to end a gruelling week that with a beer overlooking an amazing view?
Kearney is probably most known for their strength in supply chain, operations and procurement work (aka their Strategic Operations arm). As a result, there tends to be less high level strategy projects and more operations work for large clients (e.g. ASX50, government). That’s not to say you won’t be doing any strategy work – this might just be more prevalent in the mid-market space with smaller companies. In recent years, we have heard that Kearney has been moving into more M&A due diligence work, and in particular, for industrials deals.
If you’re ambitious, hard-working and love to play, there’s probably not much to complain about so far. Compensation-wise, Kearney is on par or just slightly below MBB. Whilst you might receive a slightly lower signing bonus at the grad level, remuneration is competitive relative to the market, and this shouldn’t deter you if you think Kearney is a good fit for you. As with most other large firms, Kearney has the usual travel events and offsites. You won’t go hungry either with its kitchen stocked with snacks and drinks, and dinner covered if you’re working late.
Working at Kearney means you will be well trained and mentored, with the firm taking the buddy system very seriously. Combined with formal training weeks for graduates and some serious learning on the job, Kearney will bang you into tip top consultant shape in no time. Given that teams are quite lean, don’t be too worried about not getting enough work to sharpen your tools.
So “work hard, play hard” and lean teams, how hard are you actually going to work? On the regular, you can probably expect to work 12 hour days with Friday being a day you can clock off a bit earlier. Due diligence cases will look a bit more brutal but fortunately, these don’t come by every day. Weekends are generally well protected, which is great as this is often a line that most people probably want to draw in the sand.
Kearney is a cracker of a firm for aspiring consultants. Whilst it may not have the prestige of a MBB, it is still prestigious by any other measure. Kearney will no doubt set you up for a rewarding and fruitful career, where the world will be your oyster.