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Vault’s Verdict

In a difficult year for the industry in general, CRA has been bolstered by the diversity of its services, offering some protection against economic fluctuations and positioning the firm well heading into 2024.

As an employer, CRA offers a blend of academic rigor and real-world consulting, making it an appealing choice for those who are intellectually curious and seeking exposure to high-profile litigation and transactions across various industries. This intellectual environment—with a significant portion of staff holding PhDs—results in a truly collaborative and equitable workplace, with less internal competition and politicking than can be found elsewhere in the industry.

However, not everyone will be a perfect fit: some insiders point to a financially conservative leadership that can result in slower, albeit more predictable, growth for the firm—a scenario that may make opportunities at the cutting edge of the industry harder to come by for newer hires.

As such, assessing fit should be a primary concern for applicants: CRA values individuals who can adapt to its culture, take on new challenges and learning opportunities, and work well with others—particularly senior employees. If that sounds like your bag, then CRA may well be the firm you’ve been looking for.

 

Employee Reviews

Firm Culture

  • “40% of our staff have Ph.Ds. We are committed to academic excellence and bringing that excellence to our clients.”
  • “Culture—quasi-academic but with an intense focus on ‘real world’ results. Very few (if any) difficult colleagues.  Most corporate support staff are focused on helping the consultants do business efficiently, effectively, and safely.”
  • “If you want a chance to prove yourself and work on different projects as opposed to cookie-cutter consulting, come work with CRA.”
  • “The culture of academic rigor and integrity is incredibly strong at CRA. We pride ourselves on the analyses that we conduct, and staff at all levels are committed to producing high-quality work.”
  • “We are one firm worldwide with a fantastic commitment to quality and integrity, to treating all colleagues fairly and equitably, and to delivering our brand promise to all clients, regardless of the size of the engagement.”

Quality of Life

  • “Best: The maturity in addressing work/life balance. Expectations are clear so employees are allowed discretion to balance their schedules as appropriate. I'm thrilled to be able to adjust my schedule to attend to other activities (kids’ sports games, appointments, etc.) without having to specifically ‘clock in/out’.
    Worst: High variation. Some weeks are slow, and some weeks are very, very busy. On average, the hours are reasonable, but the high variance can cause some special challenges on work/life balance.”
  • “CRA's benefits packages are exceptional.”
  • “Low travel requirement was a big selling point for me from CRA. With so many global projects, there is a natural extension to working hours, but the CRA culture seems to handle this very well by constructing project teams across time zones and passing off responsibilities between people on different continents to match project and/or client needs.
    A lot of people take significant chunks of time off and it seems to be well-respected and not difficult to book, as long as there is good communication.”
  • “The culture is very special: the firm has retained a strong partnership culture, even though it technically is a publicly-traded entity. The benefits and compensation are amazing. The CEO very publicly takes vacation and encourages all of us to take the vacation that we have earned.”
  • “Very supportive environment. Firm is open to new ideas and allows me to create new internal projects that I want to work on.”

Career Development

  • “As a newer employee (mid-career with no consulting experience) I was surprised by the lack of training in my role; I'm not expected to perform at top level yet, which is appropriate, but there are not a lot of systems in place to help me learn how to do my job through practical and/or experiential opportunities with feedback.”
  • “Best aspects—training opportunities, both in-person, live on video calls, and asynchronous. Also ample opportunities to develop your own initiatives throughout the firm to develop leadership skills. Worst aspects—there aren't any!”
  • “Promotion from junior ranks to senior team can be difficult, but it is definitely possible, and top performers are recognized and rewarded.”
  • “The Forensic Services practice has been incredibly willing to invest in colleagues at all levels, for both internal and external trainings and certifications. Plus, for colleagues at the more senior levels, the firm has been willing to invest in things like confidential executive coaching resources, media training, etc.”
  • “The promotion process is less formal than other firms in a good way. It is possible (and frequent) that good quality work results in recognition by early promotion.”

Compensation

  • “Base compensation is low and not market; however, the bonus structure is financially rewarding. If you sell and deliver, you will not make a higher income at any consulting firm.”
  • “Clearly laid out metrics for bonuses are very helpful, so there are no surprises and no concern that unseen factors and biases are impacting compensation.”
  • “CRA's compensation package is competitive but incentivizes larger performance bonuses over base salary. I was thrilled to receive a major industry adjustment less than a year after joining, which was nearly a 20% increase. The bump up from entry-level to second-tier junior staff is not very sizeable.”
  • “I don't get the sense CRA tries to compete on base salary, but I know we have better flexibility and balance than some firms that pay about the same (definitely compared to some that pay higher). I don't have a good sense of salary progression (annual or progression) yet.”
  • “The compensation package is more or less fair; however, Canadians see fewer benefits and lower pay than their American and European counterparts (which is an industry-wide issue).”

Community Engagement

  • “CRA has many resource groups that support individuals of particular identities and we've been expanding a lot in these areas. I've assisted with DEI recruiting efforts as well. I absolutely feel that all consultants have equal access to interesting/high quality work and promotion opportunities.”
  • “It seems like DE&I is a very important part of the core culture here at CRA. There is a formal corporate group who oversees DE&I initiatives and numerous volunteers from each practice and office to help with initiatives on the ground floor. I have not heard of or seen any signs of unfair work assignments or promotion opportunities.”
  • “It seems like there's more racial diversity now than when I started - that being said, not sure about the extent of socioeconomic background diversity which is more important.”
  • “There are common information sessions and discussions set up by the Chief Diversity Officer. In addition, there are many employee-run networks (Mosaic@CRA, Women@CRA, etc.) that offer aid and support for a variety of groups.”
  • “This has been a big area of focus. I'm very happy with the efforts here and how people with diverse backgrounds are treated. I feel that all consultants have equal access to interesting work and promotion opportunities. We still have ground to cover on successfully recruiting a more diverse employee group.”

Business Outlook

  • “Best: A strong, consistent engine with other groups that balance risk.  The Competition group, CRA's largest, is a consistent strong engine of performance.  Our other practice groups provide services to other clients and provides diversification of services that balance overall risk for the company.
    Worst: Cultural/morale issues relating to a practice-group driven model.  I wouldn't mind if corporate did a bit more to instill a broader sense of corporate camaraderie rather than rely on practice groups to do so.”
  • “CRA attracts talent over many other economics firms and continues to commit to the growth of that talent once in the firm. This leads to very high-quality analyses, and specifically in competition, massive clients have won consistently as a result of CRA's services.”
  • “We are a very financially conservative firm, so I feel the worst aspect of firm leadership is that we have a tendency to slow down hiring efforts in advance of potential recessions, which may or may not come. It can be frustrating, but at least we know that layoffs are an extremely unlikely scenario.”
  • “We are publicly traded and have much more diverse and recession-proof sources of business than a lot of our peer companies that focus ONLY in life sciences/biopharma strategy work. Not that CRA doesn't adjust to macro swings, but the company is a bit protected by a) not answering to a PE firm overlord who wants margin at the expense of long term success, and b) operating as part of a ‘conglomerate’ of consulting services across industries and types of practice.”

Hiring Process

 

  • “30-minute first-round interview with 1-2 interviewers focused on behavioral questions. Second round has two 30-minute behavioral interviews, followed by a 45-minute case interview, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with junior staff.”
  • “CRA provides training to all employees who are selected to run interviews. From my personal experience, interviews are conducted professionally and in a respectful manner. The firm strives to be prompt and efficient throughout the interview and hiring cycle.”
  • “For senior candidates (i.e., with advanced degrees):  The interview and callback process is changing following the pandemic. We used to target Econ and related PhDs who would be screened in Oct-Nov, have initial interviews in Dec, in-person interviews at the ASSA meeting in Jan, and then flybacks in Feb.  During the pandemic, the ASSA Jan meeting did not happen, so the schedule accelerated without the Jan anchor.  Now that the ASSA meeting is back, I do not believe that we (or others) will revert to the old schedule.  I now expect screenings in Sept-Oct, callbacks in Nov-Dec.For junior candidates (BA and BS):  process largely unchanged.  On-campus recruiting supplemented with online offerings in Sept-Oct with intent to complete junior hiring by mid-Dec. Generally handled centrally. We look for smart, thoughtful, capable, detail-oriented, and (if possible) innovative."
  • “High intellectual horsepower and creative problem solvers will do best with us.  Firm works relatively quickly in terms of making offer decisions.”
  • “I found the interview and callback process to be fairly efficient and positive. The ideal candidate is someone with robust analytical skills and experience who demonstrates an ability to describe such analyses and work well on teams.”

Interview Questions

  • “Case questions were pharmaceutical market sizing and strategy consulting questions for life sciences.”
  • “How do you calculate market share?”
  • “What is a monopsony?”
  • “In the life science practice, I received life science industry-related case questions that were not overwhelmingly difficult. There was a behavioral component and a presentation on whatever you could speak on with expertise.”
Charles River Associates

John Hancock Tower
200 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116-5092
Phone: (617) 425-3000

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Public
Stock Symbol: CRAI
Stock Exchange: NASDAQ
President, CEO and Chairman of the Board: Paul Maleh

Major Office Locations

Boston, MA (World HQ)
Chicago, IL
College Station, TX
Dallas, TX
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Oakland, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Francisco, CA
Summit, NJ
Tallahassee, FL
Washington, DC
Brussels
Cambridge
London
Munich
Sydney
Toronto
Zurich
Dusseldorf

Major Departments & Practices

  • Antitrust & Competition Economics
  • Auctions & Competitive Bidding
  • Analytics
  • CEO Advisory
  • Class Actions
  • Damages & Quantum
  • Energy
  • Employment & Compensation
  • ESG and Sustainability
  • Finance
  • Financial Economics
  • Financial Litigation & Regulation
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Forensic Services
  • Information Security & Privacy
  • Intellectual Property
  • International Arbitration
  • Investigation & Compliance
  • Labor & Employment
  • Life Sciences
  • Management Consulting
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Risk, Investigations & Analytics
  • Services
  • Transfer Pricing