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Blue Matter Consulting

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Vault’s Verdict

Individual satisfaction with most consulting firms comes down to three main elements: culture, salary and career growth. While the importance an individual consultant places on those elements will vary, positive sentiments toward all three tend to be present in firms with high retention rates.

Which brings us nicely to Blue Matter, a life sciences consulting shop that is getting rave reviews from insiders across all three of those categories. The firm is growing steadily—in the US and globally--and taking its consultants along for the trip. As a result, insiders have very few complaints about any aspect of life, and are especially delighted with the variety of strategy-focused engagements they have the opportunity to work on.

While it has a few scale issues left to solve to be truly considered one of the premiere life sciences shops out there, Blue Matter is well on its way there, and represents an exciting opportunity for anyone with the requisite skills and knowledge to build a rewarding career.

Firm Culture

“Blue Matter engages with clients to get to the root of whatever their problem is and craft a tailored solution to that problem. It's exciting to be a part of projects and solutions that are unique and impactful. At previous firms I've felt like I was delivering something that was agreed upon but maybe not the most optimal solution.”

“For people working at Blue Matter, besides the culture, it is the types of projects set us apart. We primarily do strategy work, including launch strategy, molecule strategy, and portfolio strategy. It is interesting, fast paced, and offers growth at every turn.”

“Quality and commitment to what we deliver to our clients. We want to make a difference with what we provide them; help them solve business issues, increase performance, develop a strategic partnership in them knowing we have their best interests in mind. And that they can take what we give them and turn it into some applicable and useful to their business and teams.”

“The culture at Blue Matter is second to none. My experience at Blue Matter has been a night-and-day improvement compared to my previous organization. It is so incredibly refreshing to be at an organization that takes such a strong interest in ensuring that their employees are in a positive mental state. Consulting is typically a field that burns through employees and factors a high turnover rate into their business model. At Blue Matter, that isn't the case, and a strong emphasis is put into ensuring that this be a sustainable career, and that its employees grow with the organization.”

“We bring real biotech / life sciences industry expertise to the table across all project team members. Other firms often just have 1-2 team members on the project who have meaningful life sciences experience, and the rest of the team is often more junior and still learning the industry. Blue Matter hires people who excel in terms of intellectual horsepower, and also have deep industry expertise. This results in us consistently delivering high quality work and has led to rapid growth. Many of our clients have moved from competitor consulting firms to working more or exclusively with us after only a couple of projects, as the difference is quickly noticeable. Our teams often have several people staffed on the project who are significantly more experienced than our clients and bring strong value to the table.”

Quality of Life

“‘Casual intensity’ describes the firm's quality of life well - it is an enjoyable working environment, with friendly and engaged coworkers, however everyone remains totally focused on ensuring work product is of high quality. Minimal travel opportunities (can be seen as a pro or con, depending on person).”

“Best: Close relationships with coworkers, inclusive culture, flexible work hours and work location, respect for life outside of work.

Worst: As with any client-facing job, some projects require long hours. However, there is consistent effort by leadership to make sure that long hours are not the norm.”

“Blue Matter is people first. In these trying times they have done their best to help us cope. Over the past year I have seen Blue Matter allow for more flexible hours to accommodate big life changes, offload work when someone has too much on their plate, and even take extended leave when necessary. In this new work environment created by the pandemic, Blue Matter has not forced individuals to return to the in-person model, though many people in the company still come into the office to meet with colleagues.”

“I am extremely satisfied with Blue Matter's quality of life. In stark contrast to my previous organization, there is a very explicit focus on ensuring that consulting at Blue Matter be a rewarding and sustainable career. Between multiple retreats a year, monthly mixers and events, and weekly ‘hang-outs’ I have never felt distant from my co-workers. The organization has a hybrid-optional work structure, and I find myself coming into the office purely out of choice. Understanding that the workload in consulting ebbs and flows, management is particularly aware of consultants who may be or are being overtaxed, and take steps to mitigate. I truly cannot call out something to be the ‘worst aspect’ of Blue Matter's quality of life, which I think is evident by the very low turnover at Blue Matter.”

“The firm actively monitors work-life balance for all levels as part of our monthly Happiness Survey, and any deviations below average happiness are discussed by leadership to look for opportunities to improve the situation. My hours are significantly lower than those of friends who work at other firms in similar levels (~40-50hr/week), and I am empowered to decline projects or look for alternative staffing arrangements (e.g. share roles) when bandwidth requires. 

Our amount of formal vacation is probably on average with other similar firms, so there may be opportunity to improve this. However, the firm are very open to non-standard work arrangements; a substantial number of colleagues have contracts that allow for Fridays off e.g. for childcare / to pursue other interests. Additionally, we have a paid sabbatical program every 5 years, which is a great perk.”

Compensation

“Best: Salary increases and bonus payout every 6 months. This year, we also had an off-cycle salary increase based on competitive benchmarking. My salary increased 40% this year. Medical insurance is fully covered and 401k match vests immediately. Also, health & wellness benefit ($1000) and continuing education benefit ($1000) are nice perks. Worst: I have no complaints.”

“Blue Matter has improved its compensation package significantly over the past ~12 months. Blue Matter has always supported employees significantly with supplemental benefits, but the compensation itself was often below market value relative to other consulting firms. In the past ~12 months, that has changed with the Leadership team re-evaluating compensation packages and adjusting to market value, especially given the macro-economic trends of 2021 and 2022. 

Salary progression is steady as one moves from level to level, but given the fluid promotion process, pay raises are gradual over time as opposed to big jumps at each level.”

“Salary progression is more linear and frequent. Steps have been made to make sure that our salary stays competitive to firms we compete with.”

“The bonus structure for Blue Matter is very generous (up to 25% at the consultant level) and salary progression is reasonable. With recent inflation, Blue Matter has offered a company-wide pay bump for all employees (except partners) that was independent of performance adjustments. I do wish that the salary package was more generous, but I understand it is reasonable, especially given how generous the bonus structure is.”

“We have the base package for most things - 401k matching, health insurance, basic office snacks from day one which is great. However, as the company grows, we have not seen an expansion of benefits that would be more typical of larger companies and are still quite conservative on the maternity/paternity leave policy.”

Career Development

“Blue Matter has several programs and processes established for career development, including training (Blue Matter Academy, providing tailored modules globally that consider role/level, as well as region-specific initiatives) and professional development (e.g., career coach, mentor, easy informal access to senior leadership that are both on and off your specific project teams).”

“Blue Matter puts career development at the forefront of employee's interest. I have a career coach for more formal development discussions, as well as a mentor for more day-to-day discussions. Furthermore, I have been encouraged to have career development conversations with my teams so that I can have opportunities to focus on the specific areas I desire to grow professionally.”

“I am very satisfied with career development at Blue Matter. Between recurring personal development plan meetings with project managers and your assigned career coach, Blue Matter makes it a point to help you build out and refine your consulting skillset. The work we do is both exciting and challenging, and we are provided with the tools necessary to grow and learn. The worst aspect of career development at Blue Matter is perhaps how top-heavy the organization is becoming. Since Blue Matter has such a low turnover rate, I see the organization becoming congested in the upper levels, possibly limiting the room for growth. I do not think this is a problem at the moment but may in the future.”

“Promotion is always merit-based - there are no ‘time in role’ requirements if you are able to demonstrate the ability to succeed in the next role.”

“The promotion process feels very transparent. When I have brought up promotions or advancing in my career my mentors and leadership very clearly laid out what I needed to achieve and helped me develop a plan to achieve it. I have never felt like I was being held back, on the contrary I have constantly been encouraged to grow into bigger roles.”

Community Engagement

“Blue Matter has only recently started proactive recruiting, so I expect to see DE&I continue to improve as we expand our potential candidate pool. One example regarding veterans: Even though our COO is former US military, we haven't yet focused on recruiting channels that would have greater representation from veterans. All consultants have equal access to career development opportunities.”

“Blue Matter puts great attention towards D&I efforts. There are many women and people of color in upper management and the partner level. There is a Women Initiative group that meets regularly and shares ways to promote women in the workplaces, and an LGBTQ+ initiative that does the same respectively. The LGBTQ+ community is well represented through Blue Matter's hierarchy, and the organization is very welcoming for people to come as they are.”

“Much attention and effort spent on education and awareness across the firm on D&I topics. We have brought in guest speakers as well as developed internal trainings to support this. We also hold company-wide presentations, panels, and discussion forums for individuals at our firm to share their perspectives and ask questions. Leadership takes this very seriously and has been open and responsive to ideas and feedback.”

“Strong number of Employee Resource Groups for a firm of our size, with team of individuals committed to D&I efforts internally. I feel that gender / ethnicity / background are NOT factors in consultant access to interesting/high-quality work and promotion opportunities. I think we could still do more to recruit more diverse individuals by branching outside of our usual recruitment channels, but know that the firm continues to look for how to improve.”

“We strive for D&I via an internal working group, team meetings, and activities and awareness. I'd say we are quite active not just ‘’messaging.”

Business Outlook

“Blue Matter continues to grow at an organic pace, both in terms of existing clients, new clients, and team size. The Leadership team has overall been communicative with their plans for the company and business outlook. The team is generally motivated / happy and continuing to look for opportunities to grow and support their co-workers.”

“Most business comes from repeat clients. At many points during the past year, demand was greater than capacity, so we have been able to pick and choose the most interesting projects.”

“The biggest potential headwind for our firm's business outlook is that we do not currently have proprietary data sources or a deep computational bench, so we are reliant on external partnerships for some types of projects - this is an area where some of our competition in the healthcare consulting space has an edge (especially larger companies e.g. IQVIA).”

“The company has rapidly grown over the past ~2 years, positioning Blue Matter to be a leader among life science strategy consulting firms. However, with growth also comes growing pains that can cause some unhappiness among staff.”

“We have greatly diversified our client base. We grow within existing clients and gain new clients by the praise and recommendations given by our current clients. Word of mouth is an excellent source for us.” 

Hiring Process

“Blue Matter is seeking individuals with life science education / experience (specifically prior consulting experience), but who most importantly would be a good fit personally / culturally with the firm.”

“Fairly standard consulting interview process with initial phone screen followed by in-depth case interview and experience/interest conversations with senior team members and potential colleagues. We are looking for individuals who understand the pharma/biotech industry, are creative strategic thinkers and can communicate effectively.”

“Life sciences educational background, some prior life sciences consulting experience (most cases), ability to think both analytically and creatively, desire to contribute to the firm beyond project work (e.g., support positive culture, participate in internal initiative, mentor junior team members).”

“Our interview and callback process is smooth and clear. We are seeking candidates who are self-starters, desire to produce excellent quality work, and are enjoyable to work with.” 

“The hiring process starts with a phone screening, and then a preliminary case question with a manager / associate principal. Then there is an extended case interview with two managers / associate principals. This is followed by a strictly personality-based interview with a partner, and a panel interview with 5-7 consultants, where the applicant shares a presentation on something they are passionate about. The ideal candidate is someone who is competent enough to deliver to Blue Matter's standard and shows the capacity to grow with the organization. Additionally, a strong candidate would want to bring their personality with them and mesh well with the organization.”

Interview Questions

“A client is considering moving into 3 European markets after launch in the US. What factors do they need to consider?”

“For consultants, there is usually a brain teaser / warm up question with a Lead, followed by a more traditional case interview question. After a brief break the interviewee will have a simulation of a client meeting, where they will have to listen to a recording of a client call, take notes on the call, develop outputs, and then present the outputs to a manager and lead. Finally the interviewee will need to develop a presentation on one of their passions. They will then meet with other consultants, present their passion and have a Q&A with the consultants.”

“Share an example of a work product based on a customer need. They will need to do a mock presentation and discuss how they would interact with the client, questions to ask, and what they would present.”

“The case involves listening to a mock client meeting and developing recommendations based on the context of the recording. Fit interviews are a very important element of the process. All candidates participate in a group interview where they are given the opportunity to talk with multiple team members at once.”

“We use situation-based questions meant to elicit evidence of a person's understanding of the industry, the firm, and to confirm their past work experience. If a person can do what they say they can do - this is a breeze.”

Blue Matter Consulting

400 Oyster Point Blvd.
Suite 309
San Francisco, CA 94080
Phone: (650) 754-6817

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
CEO & Managing Partner: Ashwin Dandekar
President & Managing Partner: Emily Hua
COO & Managing Partner: George Schmidt
2023 Employees (All Locations): 209

Major Office Locations

San Francisco, CA
New York, NY
Boston, MA
London, UK
Zurich, Switzerland
Berlin, Germany
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Mumbai, India

Affiliated Companies
Major Departments & Practices

Life sciences