Evaluating Company Culture in the Consulting Industry

Evaluating Company Culture in the Consulting Industry

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When exploring potential employers, you may consider several factors as a consultant—including the salary and benefits, the firm’s reputation and prestige, and the industry the company serves. But it’s also important to look at the company culture.

If you think of large consulting firms, a few prestigious names may come to mind: Accenture, Bain & Company, Deloitte, McKinsey & Company. These larger enterprises have core values guiding their company culture—and typically, these values focus on growing the bottom line. So as a consultant, your managers will want to see you adding to a company’s growth. They’ll measure your contributions based on your work performance metrics. If you perform well, you could be rewarded with higher compensation and promotions.

Boutique consulting firms tend to have a different set of values. Although they will measure core KPIs, they aren’t just looking at what you can do for their company. They also consider what the company can do for you and tend to see employees as vital team members. You’ll probably see a higher emphasis on collaboration, effective communication, and strengthening relationships. Although larger firms are starting to understand the importance of these holistic values, they can still have more of a corporate, highly competitive culture.

If you’re considering working at a consulting firm, you may find that a smaller firm will spur your career in the long run. Here are a few questions to consider before choosing your next target employer:

  • Are there opportunities for growth and promotion at this firm?
  • If I have an idea or a problem, can I talk to their leadership team?
  • Do I want to work in a more collaborative environment?
  • Does the company emphasize work/life balance?

Your answers to these questions could help you choose the best employer to serve your needs. When you’re looking for a new job, it’s crucial to find the right fit for both parties. You should focus on addressing the employer’s needs during the interview—but when you’re narrowing your job search, you’ll need to spend some time reflecting on your professional goals.

What do C-suite executives really think about company culture? A professor from Columbia collects evidence from the field.

5 Boutique Consulting Firms With Excellent Employee Reviews

Every year, Ivy Exec surveys thousands of current and recent employees to identify top employers in the consulting industry. These are some of the highest-rated firms in 2019 that cultivate a warm and engaging company culture.


Based in Madison, Wisconsin, ILLUME provides consulting services in the energy sector, with offices across the U.S., from Atlanta, Georgia to Portland, Oregon. Led by founders Anne Dougherty and Sara Conzemius, ILLUME emphasizes a co-creative, empathy-based approach to their consulting and advising. ILLUME is ranked number one for company culture on Ivy Exec.

Employees value ILLUME’s focus on their quality of life and well-being, while giving them opportunities to grow and learn professionally. In 2019, 98% of reviewers called ILLUME a great place to work; 99% of reviewers said ILLUME has strong leadership. When it comes to benefits, the company offers flex time, parental leave, and telecommuting. Illume also offers unlimited vacation time—building a philosophy of trust, they encourage employees to take the time they need while meeting their professional expectations and supporting the team.

2. ClearView Healthcare Partners

ClearView Healthcare Partners is a life sciences strategy consulting firm based in Boston, with offices in San Francisco and New York City. Employees rave about the challenging, intellectually stimulating, and exciting work at ClearView, leading the firm to the number one spot for work on Ivy Exec. In addition, 98% of surveyed employees in 2019 stated that leadership is strong, and every respondent agreed with the assessment that ClearView’s leadership are smart and know the business.

Because of the firm’s team-first approach to consulting, employees find ample opportunities for professional development and growth within the company and enjoy a collaborative office culture. Employees say ClearView is a fun place to work with supportive, accessible upper-management. Benefits include over three weeks of paid vacation, gym reimbursement, telecommuting, and parental leave, with bonuses that are almost 30% of an employee’s salary, on average.

3. Acquis Consulting Group

Acquis Consulting Group was founded in 1998 in New York City. The firm has several industry niches, including life sciences, procurement, and technology. Their values center around relationships and people, as well as ensuring strategic implementation. And employee reviewers speak to these values. Current and recent employees at Acquis praise the firm for putting people first—both employees and clients. They also report flexibility at work and say the leadership team is accessible and open to feedback. Among survey respondents, 95% stated that the Acquis leadership is strong.

Acquis also ranks high for diversity, and employees report that the firm has an inclusive culture. Staff receive on average close to four weeks of vacation, with over 15% of their base salary as a bonus. Benefits include flex time, gym memberships, parental leave, and telecommuting.

4. Censeo

Boutique Consulting FirmBased in Washington, D.C., Censeo Consulting Group is a boutique consulting firm focusing on acquisitions, human capital strategy, management, and operational improvement. Censeo employees report having fun at work, with occasional parties, softball games, and happy hours. Employees also say Censeo is a meritocracy—good ideas and competency are rewarded.

Although Censeo employees report working 50+ hours a week, one benefit is often repeated—the emphasis on work/life balance. All employees report not having to travel during the work week. Employees receive on average over three weeks of vacation, with 28% of their base salary as a bonus. Other benefits include flex time, gym memberships, parental leave, telecommuting, and some child care support.

5. Now What

Now What is a Brooklyn-based consulting firm focusing on customer insight and brand strategy. One repeated word that comes up often in employee reviews is “creative,” and you can appreciate that sentiment as soon as you visit the Now What webpage. Touted as “The Creative Question Company,” their approach has moxie. Because the firm is on the smaller side, working at Now What can expose you to many different projects and responsibilities, providing numerous opportunities for professional growth.

Now What provides flex time, telecommuting, parental leave, and gym memberships. All the survey reviewers said they would recommend Now What to a friend. They have offices in Brooklyn and San Fransisco, and they’re also a dog-friendly workplace.

You can find more of the best places to work on Ivy Exec’s Top Consulting Firms for Culture page.


Deborah Beckwin
About the Author
Deborah Beckwin

Deborah Beckwin is a writer, editor, and content strategist who helps businesses authentically connect with their ideal customers. You can find her here at https://deborahbeckwin.com.

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