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Vault’s Verdict

OUR SURVEY SAYS 

Vault Verdict: IMS Consulting Group is a firm whose reputation is on the rise, in a sector that is all but immune to recession. Indeed, with an ageing population placing ever more strain on them, Europe's health care systems are likely to prove to be a significant market for the firm in the coming years—especially given its global reach and ability to leverage solutions that have been tested in other markets.

That global reach also happens to be a key differentiator for employee experiences at the firm—insiders are effusive about the international opportunities available at IMSCG.  In addition, the firm's training and career development initiatives are also highly thought-of, indicating that this is a firm where building a career is a priority for all concerned.

 

Firm Culture 

"We are more specialised in the pharma industry than other generalist consulting firms, yet can cover a broader set of subjects/project types than other smaller pharma specialists."

"Global company with strong local presence and individual market knowledge."

"My colleagues are more collaborative than what I expect in a consulting firm. Even if competition is an aspect of the firm's culture, everyone is willing to help each other."

"Focused commitment to and expertise in every aspect of the pharmaceuticals/healthcare industry across 100+ countries in the world."

"Range of different projects people get to work on, even at a junior level."

"Extremely high level of expertise in healthcare consulting—beneficial both for employees to learn from and for clients to get exceptional work.""Learn to swim quickly or die trying."

"Create your own destiny."

"Increasingly challenging and stimulating project work with strong client interaction in a close-knit and fun working environment."

"A dedicated and professional pharma consultancy with an outweighed work-life balance."

"Great international exposure, very interesting projects with availability to manage youe time, but limited career progression if you are not working in one of the core offices."

 

Quality of Life 

"IMS has good working hours for a consultancy firm—I usually have some of my evenings free and hardly ever work at the weekends. It is also a very friendly and non-hierarchical company so you get to know a lot of people with different experiences easily."

"I like the fact that I don't work on client site, just in the office most of the time. There isn't a huge amount of travel for younger employees, which I personally like but I know some people who would rather travel more often."

"Projects lately have been sold with shorter timeframes without considering addtional resources (the average cut has been from regular 12-16 weeks project a couple of years ago to a 8-10 weeks average project; however, this time reduction is not reflected with additional resources to cover them. Additional mandatory corporate involvement on top of the 100% staffing in projects creates a significant additional workload that directly impacts the quality of life."

"Since we have many international projects, time differences can be quite problematic and I sometimes have to work or attend calls late night."

"Best: The firm puts significant importance in selecting the right set of individuals aligned with both the values and cultural environment. Friendly, open and helpful environment. Opportunity for junior staff to directly own parts of the work and interact with even senior clients. Good work-life balance compared to my experience in previous firms—no need to work on site unless requested by client. Worst: Hours and travel are inconsistent—you can have 50 hours/week periods and then 6 months of 80 hours/week with constant travelling as well. More travel expected as you climb the ladder in the organization; with time spent away increasing to 3-4 days/week around 2-3 weeks per month—some may not like it, but I actually love it."

"Best aspects: As IMSCG staff junior staff, you primarily work from your home office and only travel to client meetings and from time to time to a local team to work closely together. Personally, I prefer this from an on-site approach of other consultancies. Worst aspects: This office-based approach has its drawbacks when working with US colleagues as the only EU team member. Evenings can get extremely late not because of the amount of work but just due to the time-shift when project managers expect that EU team members are available at the majority of US office hours as well."

 

Career Development 

"The learning-on-the-job mentoring system is really effective and a good way to learn a lot quickly. Promotions are likely at regular intervals assuming you're doing a good job, and it's made clear what the criteria is and how you're doing compared to it. Some people may find the lack of formal training difficult initially."

"It is a fast paced environment, working with multi-country teams across global geographies, that helps you to develop quick knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry in a variety of projects with different scopes and objectives."

"The promotion system is very non-transparent, with no clear benchmarks that keep changing constantly every six months. Additionally, each time middle and entry level staff are demanded to dedicate more time to corporate out of project involvement (recruitment, thought leadership...) that afterwards is not valued in terms of career progression."

"Best: Ability to work across multiple regions, ranging from US/EU to Middle East and Africa. Global secondment programs for junior staff. Opportunity to work in a highly challenging and regulated industry. High performance rewarded with more interesting, challenging projects. Worst: Titles not matching directly with role expectations (Engagement Managers performing like Principals, Senior consultants like managers)."

"Meritocratic promotion, and able to gain exposure to a broad range of skills and capabilities, and specialise when you have found your preferred area."

 

Compensation 

"Salary is on the low side, especially given the increasing work hours. Aside from the bonus and private health insurance there is nothing else to add on to the package, which is disappointing."

"IMS salary is pretty good, there's private medical cover and a good pension plan. Bonuses aren't amazing."

"It is a given that you are not here for monetary compensation given that it is sub-par at all levels. Once the company was bought in by TPG, this became even more evident. Now that it is public again, we will likely be under pressure yet again. The company does try to make up for it by providing other perks in some locations, but we are definitely underpaid compared to other consultancies; based on personal experience as well as role expectations. That said, this is one of the few places you can do healthcare consultancy consistently across regions and get to work closely in partnership with your clients; especially in our immediate region since other consultancies focus more on different sectors."

"With IMSCG, it highly depends on the office you're based in. While the UK offices have several additional benefits besides salary, this isn't the case in ex-UK offices. Beside vacation time, I cannot identify any other major non-monetary perks."

 

Outlook 

"Targets are too aggressive and result in long working hours and pressure to minimise costs. Should be selling projects for higher fees to provide quality work rather than undercutting competitors just to win."

"Many people don't know IMS Health (lacking some brand awareness to recruit the best people to our business)."

"Best aspects: A clear advantage is the focus on the pharmaceutical industry, allowing an understanding that not many other consulting companies can achieve (including the large ones). The consequent forward-thinking in this industry gives IMSCG an advance. Most employees have a life-sciences background and are highly motivated to work in such an environment. With its mother company, IMS Health, IMSCG has a strong standing in client-relationships as well. Worst aspects: As IMS Health, and therefore also IMSCG, is going public this year, I expect that the business model will be oriented rather short-term in the future and that it will focus more around shareholder value again, reducing perks and benefits for employees."

 

Hiring Process

"Entry position candidates typically go through a telephone interview and, if successful, a recruiting day with 2-3 discussions and case studies. Ideal candidate has business sense, can handle numbers and ideally should have prior consulting and/or pharmaceutical experiences."

"Committed to pharma and healthcare. Analytical and problem solving mind. Need to show confidence without being over confident to the extent of being difficult to coach and develop. Professional manner as we expect to be able to put candidates in front of clients early."

 

Interview Tips and Questions

"In what ways could you bring something new to the team/business?

"Pharmaceutical business case studies are used."

"Typical estimation or business cases, most, but not all of them, centered around the pharmaceutical industry."

"Estimate the volume of the aspirin market in Country X."

"A drug company is facing declining revenues in Europe—Identify possible reasons and propose strategies to face this problem."

 

Diversity and Social Responsibility

"Very diverse workplace with even gender split and high percentage of non-UK workers. Makes it an interesting place to be."

"IMS is very friendly, international and diverse, and I haven't come across anyone who has any problems with anything like this."

"A lot of women work with IMSCG, likely due to the life-sciences focus. Also, our office is highly culturally diversified."

 

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Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
President: Jose Luis Fernandez
2014 Employees (All Locations): 475

Major Office Locations

New York, NY (HQ)
London
Munich
Beijing
Seoul
Shanghai
Singapore
Tokyo

Major Departments & Practices

Brand & Commercial Strategy

Competitive Intelligence

Pricing & Market Access

Strategy & Portfolio Analysis