I visited University College Dublin’s Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business last week to talk about careers in strategy and management consultancy in Ireland to the new MBA cohort. Many of the class had indicated that they wished to remain in Ireland after graduating, so here’s what I shared with them:
Irish consuIting firms are clustered in Dublin, with only small pockets of presence outside the capital – in Cork and Limerick. Unsurprisingly, most major clients are in and around Dublin. Which means long commutes and frequent hotel stays are rare. So the work/life balance here is much, much better. (Better than any other country I’ve researched.)
The only exception is in strategy consulting. McKinsey is the one top tier firm with an office in Ireland. It’s small, and its consultants spend much of their time in the UK, or further afield. Being away Monday-Friday makes it tricky to put down roots and establish a social life, and also to network in the Irish business community for opportunities post-consulting. So being Irish, or having strong connections with Ireland, puts candidates at a distinct advantage. Accenture has a strategy team too in Dublin, and again the consultants spend quite a bit of time in the UK, I was told.
Apart from the Big Four and Accenture, Grant Thornton is seen as punching above its fighting weight. There are many technology consultancies, not least because of the presence of 12 of the 15 largest software companies. These companies – Facebook, Google ‘hoover up” tech-savvy consultants with 2-3 years consulting experience, said a source.
The public sector is the largest market in Ireland, followed by consumer and industrial products, financial services, and agribusiness. In terms of service it is operations, followed by technology (especially cybersecurity and fintech) and people and change as the leading lines.
Brexit, and the introduction of a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, is the issue keeping most business leaders awake at night. The UK is a major export market for Ireland, and the disruption of trade between the two countries will affect both economies, and that is bound to have a negative impact on the consulting sector. That is the only area of concern in the otherwise positive view of the Irish consulting market shared by consulting professionals.
Talent remains scarce, and work permits are (relatively) easy to obtain for non-EU citizens.
All in all, a market worth considering for English speakers seeking better work/life balance.