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Picking McKinsey over BCG with a 15% lower salary

My Michael Moment occured after I had received offers from BCG and McKinsey and was trying to debate the best choice. BCG offered me 15% larger package overall and a higher signing bonus. I sent Michael a short note on Skype explaining my decision and intimating that the extra money would pay for a nice vacation with my wife. I received a note saying that money was not everything and I should choose the firm which I felt had a partner who could personally mentor me. Michael gave me 4 things to think about:

• I would only progress to partner if a partner took me under his wings and mentored me. I should think about which firm was not more likely to do that.

• 15% + higher immediate salary translates into very little over a 5 to 10 year career. I should think about the lifetime value of the decision and not the short term value.

• A firm that pays more will have a reason for doing that. No one is that generous. I needed to think carefully about the gap for which the money was compensating. Was it training, the type of engagements etc.?

• Don’t pick the firm that likes you, pick the firm that wants to develop you. In the long term, my personal development would be more important.

It pained me at the time, but I turned down the BCG offer and chose McKinsey. No one agreed with me and my wife had to settle for a Florida vacation over Aruba!

That is my Michael Moment, he took my career seriously even after getting me in – beyond our contracted relationship – and I still count on him for advice. Michael is willing to be the lone voice of dissent if he cares about you.

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