Management Consulting and Marketing at Microsoft

Since I am responsible for recruiting talent for the types of roles we hire across Microsoft, I've focused my efforts on candidate profiles. It's easy to see what kinds of roles we hire people INTO by looking at our careers page, but for me to do a good job at finding the talent, it's actually more important for me to know what those people are doing now. What companies do they work for, what are their titles (all things that are searchable)...and then work to map those candidates to open roles.

So I thought I could share a little with you about the types of profiles we look for and then tell you how people with that background tend to fit into marketing at Microsoft. At least that would make it easier for folks that match the profile to identify roles here, right?

So the first profile I am going to cover is the management consultant profile. We are very fortunate that the big management consulting firms, McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting allow us to  post jobs to their alumni portal (I think this shows how much support they offer their employees in terms of long-term career planning and I think this is a big selling point for people interviewing with these companies). We know that the large consulting firms do a good job of recruiting exceptional talent out of the top MBA programs. The same kind of high quality talent that we recruit. So knowing that someone once worked for one of these leading firms, we know they passed a high bar to get in. And if they were there for any length of time, they had to compete to stay in.

Aside from the hiring bar at these firms attracting us to former management consultants, we are also attracted to this candidate pool by the type of project they generally work on. Client companies call in the "big guns" when they have a complex problem to solve and the budget to do it. Usually  these projects are of significant scope and highly strategic. That matches well with the type of strategy work we do at Microsoft. It's an added bonus if the consultant was onsite to work through the implementation.

So what kinds of roles are management consultants hired into at Microsoft? That answer is as complicated as the titles themselves. They could come into Microsoft in Product Management, Business Development, even Marketing Management; depending on the project focus they have had in the past. Folks who have worked in a high tech practice generally fall into Product Management and Business Development; where they are responsible for market analysis, product road map, strategic deals. Consultants who have worked in more a pure "marketing" practice would likely join Microsoft in a Marketing Management role, where they are responsible for go-to-market strategy within a segment, audience or vertical, or focused on a specific product.

Having interviewed and hired a number of former management consultants myself, I can share a little bit about what they say they like about working at Microsoft (maybe I'll get one of them to do a guest interview here). First, I hear that the extensive travel that comes with the consulting lifestyle isn't sustainable long-term for everyone (I admire people that could keep up the pace, but I'd miss my dog!). Microsoft offers the type of strategic work that interests them and allows them to work through a project including implementation ("project" could mean developing a new product road map, launching a product, creating feature acquisition strategies). The work is of significant scope and visibility. Plus they are surrounded by other smart people and can develop a career path across roles, business units or level of responsibility.

OK, I realize all of that is a little self serving, but if you are a management consultant out there and don't see exactly the right job listed on your alumni site (if your firm has one) or our career site, feel free to send me your resume anyway and we'll get it on front of the right people. And if you are someone thinking about a career in management consulting, I hope this gives you a little insight into what could be the next step in your career path.

Comments (9)

  1. Ck147 says:

    SO…. I read about your blog in the WSJ today…. very cool deal…I actually enjoyed the topic here (above)…. as a mid-level executive in a technology company today, it is interesting to me to see what is driving the hiring logic at other firms (especially successful ones)….

    I find myself contemplating a job-change…. Currently I am in the ‘BUST OR BOOM’ telecom industry with a few more years of BUST in front of it… I wonder if you would give me an honest assessment (maybe a 1,000 view) of whether my resume is up to Microsoft par???? Do I have the experience/skill-set to succeed at MFST?!

    Can you do something like that?? Let me know… because I am interested….. Again.. site is cool and I am book marking effective today

  2. Questions says:

    Hi Heather,

    I really enjoy reading your blog and was not too suprised to see your posting about MSFT’s interest in hiring from the top 3 strategy consulting firms. Many companies hire marketing/business development folks from the top 3 consulting firms and bulge bracket investment banks. What that tells me is they let the consulting firms do most of the recruiting. If McKinsey thought they were smart enought to hire, then certainly, they must be good enough for us.

    While I do admire have have the utmost respect for those that have worked so hard to secure 2 year positions at Mckinsey after undergrad, I also think about those that are equally smart and perhaps even "hungrier" to proove themselves, because they for one reason or another did not have the good fortune of going to an Ivy League caliber school. These are people that may work for companies like Accenture, Deloitte, Diamond Cluster,etc. I’ve seen some of these people Microsoft, and they are doggedly determined to do well, but they hardly ever seem to get hired full-time out of the contractor role. Why is that? These people not only have to "strategize" about how they are going to tackle problems, but unlike McKinsey, they actually have to implement their ideas.

    Did you work for one of the top 3 consulting firms? From your profile, I don’t recall coming across that. However, you are at Microsoft hiring talent, and you clearly are one of the brightest and creative HR Recruiters that I have come across. Think about considering those that didn’t work at Bain, BCG, or McKinsey. You are in a position to give these folks a chance. At the very least, I don’t think that it’s very tactful to be so blatent about hiring with particular emaphasis on the top 3. Bill, Steve, Jeff, and many more leading the company did not work for McKinsey….

  3. Heather says:

    1) "CK147"-of course you can send your resume over. I’m at Would love to see it!

    2) "Questions"–let me clarify that we are not trying to "pick-off" consultants that are working on-site at Microsoft. I’m talking about the external recruiting we are doing. I happened to name McKinsey, Bain and BCG because they have alumni portals which is where we get a number of management consultant resumes that result in hires. That doesn’t mean that we arne’t hiring from the others as well. Sorry I didn’t make that more clear…just an oversight (please note that I never said we just hire from the "top 3"…so you are assuming a bit). If you have ideas about how we can reach out to the folks at those otjher firms, please share them…I’m always looking for recommendations on the best way to reach people and you seem to be very passionate about this. Would love to hear from you further with recommendations.

    Let me also say that no, I didn’t work for a consulting firm but appreciate the fact that you think I am bright. I don’t really see management consultants as a profile to target for filling staffing roles, but I’ll keep it in mind ; ) Any management consultants out there want to work in staffing, let me know! We are lots of fun!

  4. Brian says:


    I have been reading all your blogs on Recruiting at MS. I am headed to Redmond next week to interview for a recruiting position with MS. I have been a manager for over 27 years (all areas including stints at D&T and CGE&Y) and have been recruiting (including for MS) for the past 1 and 1/2.

    Any hints, tips or insights you could provide me would be greatly appreciated before I get on the plane next Weds (interviews are Thursday)

    Sidenote: I am currently living in Chicago so I would be following your path to Redmond.

    Thanks for all the blogs and anything you can give me.


  5. Paul says:

    It’s nice to hear something cheerful from an industry insider. Management consultants would be great pick I would think! 🙂

    I have some quesitons if you have some time later: Do management consultants work the similiar hours for the similar compenstation at Microsoft? Or as intenral consultants is it a bit less intense.

    Also does Microsoft hire from within through some type of strategy & implementation department or is it more likely to promote just really bright people in varied fields within microsoft.

    And is there room for upward movement once someone lands at microsoft? Kind of like the consultant -> team leader -> manager -> partner statuses?


  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul…I’m not sure about hours and compensation. Guess that depends on individual situation. I know that many of the management consultants that I have spoken with (and hired) have a number of reasons for coming here like not wanting to travel as much and getting more experience with execution. We aren’t really hiring "internal consultants". People that we recruit out of the management consulting space come into a marketing, bus dev or strategy role (other roles to). So it’s really quite a different job but utilizing the same core skils and talents that management consultants use.

    We do faciliate a lot of internal movement here. it’s across the company so it’s not centralized with any specific department. So it would be up to the employee to determine where they want to be down the road and go through our internal application process to investigate those types of opportunities.

    People can move up in Microsoft through a variety of routes, either within their function (individual contributor to manager to group manager to director….etc). They can also move laterally to round out skills sets or move to bigger roles with a larger scope while still being an individual contributor. It’s been important here to keep people challenged and engages while moving them up in ways that are significant to them personally (knowing, for example, that not all people want to manage others).

    Hope that helps.

  7. Kyle says:


    I am writing to you in reference to the ‘blog’ commentary made about Microsoft’s need for "management consultants". I’ve recently completed graduate school (MBA), with a desire to pursue a career in management conulsting with your company as well! Moreover, I have sent you both cover letter and resume to your email address earlier today. I look forward to speaking with you concerning my career experience and education in relation to management consulting. By the way, I really like your creative ‘blog-site’!! Make it a great day!!


    Kyle Layton Rigg

  8. David says:

    Hi Heather,

    Just found your blog while surfing and love it.  I am bookmarking today!  Would love to get a little bit more insight from the recruiting perspective

    What type of role would you put a person from a bulge bracket investment bank?  Specifically someone who worked in the technology division?

    Also, would you consider a person’s entire career or just his/her last job.  For example, management consulting before MBA, i-banker after MBA.  How do you categorize this person for recruiting purposes?


  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    David – probably in our IT group in operations. Unless someone has developed sw as a commercial product (you know, if they built in-house aps), then I think IT. But depending on what you did specifically, I could change my opinion. If you want to send me your resume, I can get it into the right hands. That would be no problem at all.

    The management consulting experience stands out on the resume. We definitely look at the whole career but the most recent work is weighted the heaviest. Also depends on how long you have been there. But in general, we are pretty holistic and care most about what you can do.

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