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Consulting Exit: 6 exit opportunities for management consultants

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Exit opportunities open up new paths for your professional development. But what are the career opportunities after a consulting exit? 

If you’re looking for a career in management consulting, it’s crucial to know that one of the most fascinating aspects of this industry is the exit opportunities – in other words, life after consulting. Despite the tempting salaries in the six-figure range, many consultants sooner or later decide to leave management consulting.  

In this article, you will learn more about why management consultants leave this prestigious career behind and what exit opportunities are available. 


Why is an exit from management consulting so attractive? 

For consultants, three main reasons usually emerge for their consulting exit: remuneration and benefits, work-life balance (including working hours and business travel) and personal preferences. 

With their extensive skills and knowledge, consultants have the opportunity to take on management positions in various industries, which not only offer higher remuneration but also additional benefits.  

The challenge of maintaining a balance between professional and private life is another reason for leaving management consultancy. The long working hours, demanding working environment and frequent business trips create considerable pressure. When personal circumstances change, for example when starting a family, leaving management consultancy often becomes predictable. 

Some consultants leave the industry because of their personal preferences. While consulting serves as an ideal stepping stone for some to develop diverse skills, others realize that this industry does not meet their expectations and that they can find promising career opportunities elsewhere. 

Also read our blog article: Consulting as a stepping stone – The 10 most common reasons for leaving

Leaving management consulting and what now? 

For former management consultants, diverse and well-paid career paths open up after they leave the company. These range from management positions in companies to banking and finance, the public sector, non-profit organizations, start-ups and independent consulting. This broad range of exit options is the result of their involvement in various sectors and their intensive involvement with challenging business problems.


 1. corporate management

Moving into the management of a company is one of the most common exit options for consultants, especially for graduates of top consulting firms. Many former consultants join their former clients or use the alumni network of their consulting firm. 


  • The company management is particularly good, as their skills and qualifications harmonize perfectly with the requirements of this role. 
  • Thanks to the versatility of their specialist knowledge, industry expertise and consulting experience, as well as their network of C-level clients, they often have a smooth entry into large companies in other industries. 
  • The perception of these companies on the market has a positive effect on applications and makes former consultants stand out.


  • With a consulting background, former consultants can even reach higher management positions, which can lead to a higher income. 


  • Complex, multi-layered problems with many conflicting interests.

2. banking and finance

Opportunity Consulting Exit: Many management consultants bring analytical skills that, combined with their excellent people skills, pave the way to leading financial institutions, including private equity, hedge funds and asset management. 


  • Social skills are an invaluable asset in the financial sector, especially when it comes to conducting business. 
  • The strategic mindset they have developed during their time in consulting firms can help them stand out in the financial world. 
  • A strong alumni network, especially at MBB firms, can be of great benefit when placing in private equity.


  • The financial sector offers the highest salaries, especially for managers.


  • The most difficult obstacle for former consultants entering the financial sector is the new challenges and subject areas.  


3. non-profit organizations and NGOs

If there is a desire to contribute values to society instead of focusing on profit, full-time employment with non-profit companies or non-governmental organizations offers a sensible alternative for starting out after a consulting exit.  


  • The comprehensive skills acquired through working in a renowned management consultancy make them strong candidates. 
  • The brand name of their former employer probably gives them an advantage over applicants without consulting experience. 
  • Many former consultants have reached high positions in such organizations, which further strengthens their network.


  • Although income is lower in non-profit organizations, they enable a better work-life balance and reduce work stress. 
  • The impact they achieve is not just focused on profit, but on the value they create for the community. 


  •  The problems that NGOs deal with are usually more complex and have more far-reaching effects than the narrowly defined problems of corporate governance.  
  • It often takes a while for former consultants to get used to these social challenges.


4. public sector

Former consultants who strive for profound change in their country or society find a possible vocation in the public sector.  


  • The ability to influence people and navigate the political arena is an outstanding advantage in the public sector. 
  • The contacts made during the advisory work often prove to be extremely useful.


  • Better work-life balance and more influence.  


  • Former consultants encounter complex, multi-layered problems in the public sector with many conflicting interests, but often on an even larger scale. 


5. founding a company

Many consultants bring with them the experience of solving large, complex business problems and in-depth industry knowledge, which enables them to confidently venture into the world of entrepreneurship. 


  • The consulting background and the differentiated skills provide an excellent basis for a successful business start-up. 
  • Numerous successful start-ups were founded by former consultants, and this network can be of great benefit to your own project.


  • The freedom to follow your own passion is an obvious advantage. 
  • An open, flexible working environment is another positive aspect.


  • Start-ups often have to pay attention to their liquidity and often need several adjustments and time to adjust. 


6. independent management consultancy

The transition from a large company to self-employment is often a question of personal preference. Whether you want to be involved in a specific industry or function, or want more control over your personal life, starting your own consulting firm or boutique consultancy offers a wide range of opportunities to get started after your consulting exit. 


  • The consulting skills and experience are a very good basis, similar to founding a start-up. 
  • The key elements: analytical thinking, self-confidence, communication, stakeholder management and reporting from consulting activities remain valuable tools.


  • Self-employment gives you the chance to lead a flexible lifestyle and the freedom to determine your own working hours and location. 
  • Self-employed consultants often earn more than those in permanent employment – they can determine their own daily rate. 


  • Setting up a consultancy without a large network and resources requires a lot of effort – platforms like consultingheads can help you expand your network. 
  • Being dependent on your own customer network places particular demands on building strong relationships and trust with potential customers.

Why are consultants so successful after their consulting exit?

Success Management Consultant Consulting Exit

There are three key reasons why consultants continue to occupy pole position in terms of career success even after their consulting exit:

  • their acquired skills and qualifications,  
  •  Highly respected professional position  
  • the extensive network they have built up during their careers. 

During their work as consultants, they operate in different sectors, functions and industries. This versatility enables management consultants to develop a wide range of skills that will distinguish them in other professional contexts and ideally prepare them for their exit from management consulting. The three most valuable skills that each of them acquires while working in consulting firms include leadership, assertiveness and problem-solving skills. These skills are invaluable not only in a professional environment, but also in private life. 

Career success after consulting

The reputation of the top consulting firms also plays a decisive role in their success. These companies have a multi-stage selection process and those who have successfully completed it are considered extremely promising candidates. The excellent reputation of renowned companies such as MBB or the Big 4 is virtually unchallenged in professional circles. However, smaller consulting firms, such as boutique consultancies that offer high-quality, specialized advice in only one or a few related industries and functions, also highlight their high level of expertise. 

The desire for change

Imagine you are looking for new challenges – you are starting a new job, exploring and shaping it according to your ideas. After a while, however, the routine becomes monotonous and demanding. Then you feel the urge for something new – perhaps to set up your own company or start a completely new professional challenge. 

It is important not to make any hasty decisions and to plan your exit from management consulting carefully and ideally at an early stage. It makes sense to stay regularly informed about career options. We will support you in this and ensure that you don’t miss out on any important career opportunities. With consultingheads we offer exclusive positions and projects for consultants. 

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