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Developed vs Developing Markets: What's the Difference?

When choosing where you’d like to work, people sometimes forget that #MBB have global presence. A consulting job might be a great way to work in a new country and gain valuable experience you can’t get anywhere else.

So, what’s it like working in developed vs developing markets?

Developed economies (especially the US!)

Consultants in the US are ubiquitous, which has its own advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, everyone knows the roles consultants play, understands the Mon-Thurs travel schedule and the ways of working.

On the not so positive side, the working model in developed markets leaves less room for building closer relationships, as engagements are seen as more transactional and there is tendency to focus on the value you bring as a consultant vs a person.

Developing economies

Because consulting and the use of consultants is less common, the processes are less defined. As always, there is both a positive and negative!

On the positive side, there is a lot of room to build more meaningful client relationships, more autonomy in pursuing solutions and more chance to work with very senior people even as a first year analyst/associate.

On the negative side, there is often the drive to overdeliver as the cost of consultants is often perceived as exorbitant and there is a need to justify your presence.

Are the projects similar?

As far as types of projects go, there are some differences which stand out and others which were similar across geographies.

  • In many developed regions, obtaining data is not the most difficult part of the project, and there is a bigger emphasis on analytics including more advanced analysis where possible. In developing economies however there is a bigger focus on data collection which can often require some creative methodologies to get to a usable dataset

  • There is a perception that in developed economies you focus on cost cutting/productivity improvement cases vs in developing countries the focus is only on growth. This is not true—there are plenty of cost cutting projects in emerging economies and plenty of growth projects in the US. Companies need help with all types of goals regardless of location

  • The scope of projects can vary. In the US, projects can involve multiple types of work - for example you could be building an app, working with advanced statistical techniques and using design theory in your projects because the market is very mature and in order to compete, consulting firms offer more diverse range of solutions. In less mature economies, the work tends to be more focused on the traditional consulting toolkit.

As a last note, the answers above don’t capture the level of excitement and ability to be innovative/creative in a developing market. My personal experience in a developing market was the ability to take a lot more risk with the output, with problems requiring more innovative/creative solutions.

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