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CIL Management Consultants


Vault’s Verdict

With a recent change in Managing Partner, there is a sense among insiders that CIL is a firm poised for rapid growth in the years ahead. As such, while economic uncertainty hangs over the industry as a whole, insiders seem confident about their firm’s prospects and excited to dig into the work of building its reputation, book of business and internal processes.

With that in mind, this is a firm that will suit those who aren’t afraid to take on new opportunities and responsibilities—while formal training programs have been improved in recent years, entrepreneurial spirit is still very much valued. All told, an excellent choice for those seeking interesting work without the work-life tradeoff that hangs over so much of the industry.

Firm Culture

“CIL has really shown a commitment to improving on its historical performance both in terms of a business but also internally, e.g. training, HR recruitment, diversity, socials. If you have a request, whatever it may be (e.g. sector rotation, secondment, charity work), no ask is too big and they will always be receptive to you.”

“CIL is really focused on consulting for PE and M&A. The work is interesting and fulfilling and you can do lots of good research, but it could be less varied in some respects (although the non-transactional strategy offering is being built out at pace).”

“Early responsibility in terms of the actual work you are expected to do and with regards to client interaction. My friends at larger companies (e.g. Bain, BCG, McKinsey, LEK) don't have the same responsibility and do not get to interact with clients nearly as much.”

“It's a great place to work, but it can be hard work at times. The people are friendly and supportive and you can learn a lot in a very short space of time. There are also excellent exit opportunities once you have gained this early responsibility (2-3 years in).”

“Rather than just being words on a website, people at CIL actually embrace the values, which is enabled by hiring the right people and being clear about the type of work culture that we aspire towards.”

Quality of Life

“Active management of working hours for all client facing staff. Strong processes to consider working hours when choosing whether or not to accept projects, and how they are priced. Leadership team religiously review and discuss all staff members who have worked over 50 hours the previous week, or on average the previous month, or who have said they're not feeling too happy in the weekly employee index.”

“Best: Great working culture with a limit on the number of hours you should be doing and lenient TOIL if consistently exceeding this. 

Worst: This limit is 50 hours and people often exceed this so work life balance could always be better. This is a factor of the industry rather than the firm.”

“CIL is very committed to providing a great work-life balance. From my perspective, there is an understanding that non-work commitments should be respected and kept to if at all possible.

However, I think on some projects there could be more consideration as to how many people are needed in order to avoid longer hours.”

“Individuals are tracked if they consistently work more than 50 hours in a week and steps are taken to limit this. People are protected if they've been on a tough project. Very supportive of unpaid leave/sabbaticals, even from a relatively junior position.”

“Management and HR make a real effort to manage our hours. The new aim for less than 20% of the company to be working a 50-hour week has been very effective. Long hours past 9pm are rare and are normally rewarded with TOIL if they do occur during delivery week, for example. The culture is fantastic and a real effort is made for employees of all levels to socialise with each other through weekly sports matches, monthly socials, office-specific quizzes and quarterly events to name a few. CILers really do embody their values!”


“Best - salaries are fully transparent. All salaries for all grades up to [Associate Director] are published and everyone is clear at what level they are in the salary hierarchy and therefore what their salary is and how it will grow. There is clear guidance on competencies needed to rise to the next level, and promotion is based on individual readiness rather than whole cohorts moving together as one.”

“Best: Generally, the level of pay is good and I feel well paid. Worst: Appear to be underpaid vs the market with no pay rise during this period of high inflation. Benefits are less than other companies too, but potentially due to firm size.”

“Lower than market rates. CIL claims this is because we work fewer hours. I'm unsure on the extent to which this is true, but have certainly seen that comparable consultancies pay more.”

“Pay increases rapidly with promotion but pay increases within pay bands are rare and are behind inflation. In general, CIL pay is lower than competitors at like-for-like pay bands, but progression is faster.”

Career Development

“Career development at CIL is very transparent; I feel as though I know what is expected of me and what I need to work on in order to improve and eventually get promoted.”

“CIL put a lot of time an energy into building a robust training program that allows employees to develop skills as they start to progress through the company. This tailored approach works really well.

A less favorable aspect which is really to be expected for junior employees is less exposure to the whole process or clients.”

“Junior promotion in cohorts used to work well when we only had two cohorts in a year (April and September), however, with four cohorts now typical this structure is not as just and can disadvantage analysts who have been working longer but are promoted at the same time as newer employees due to the promotional cycle (December and June).”

“The promotion process and pay structure is very transparent, and feedback is continuous. It is clear what needs to be done to achieve promotion, at least at lower and mid-levels. The worst aspect is the senior hire process, where senior hires come in at a level above what the rest of their would-be cohort are at (and so get paid much more).” 

“You get responsibility very early. When this is the case, you will get support from more senior staff both commercially (in terms of fulfilling the project according to scope), as well as operationally. Senior leaders are very open and receptive to discussing ideas with you. You are encouraged to speak up in meeting and share your thoughts.”

Community Engagement

“All consultants have equal opportunities. Hiring process structured to improve diversity (assessments in early phases blind to gender, ethnicity etc). Efforts are constantly monitored and improvements sought.”

“Blind recruitment policies (recruiters can’t see an applicants’ CV while marking their application essays) and focus on equalising early-stage recruitment (e.g. removal of cover letters in favour of mini essays), D&I socials / quizzes, yearly D&I survey to monitor how CIL is doing in regards to D&I - lots of improvement needed, but clearly taking a proactive approach to improving this.”

“CIL actively involves its employees in the upReach programme, diversity and inclusion panels, newsletters and various company events. The intern programme through upReach is a great system in my opinion. HR's blind approach to the first round of applications is also effective in ensuring no bias. It is a meritocratic organisation so no matter your diversity profile you can succeed as much as any person at your level.”

“Lots of focus on D&I with events run around different nationalities of employees, by the employees themselves.”

“The structures seem to be in place, including blind screening during recruitment, and a dedicated team to improving D&I, led by a Partner. But for whatever reason, this doesn't seem to translate to outcomes - particularly vs. competitors. There is also still material inequality for fee-paying vs. state-funded schools (particularly comprehensive school students).”

Business Outlook

“Actively trying to diversify in order to hedge against economic downturns.”

“Best: Leadership team are approachable and want to take on the thoughts of employees and the company is in a very good position to take advantage of good market conditions.

Worst: Some concerns around future pay given there was no pay increase during this inflationary period and no expected pay increase until March at the earliest.”

“I am looking forward to the next 5 to 10 years at CIL. We have a new and ambitious Managing Partner and we are continuing to recruit talented people - both key motivations for CIL's future.”

“Senior management is very good at keeping everyone updated on the long-term plan of the company and what the plan is to achieve these long-term goals. I also appreciate the honesty and transparency of CIL. I really like having weekly update calls to discuss how the business is doing. This really makes me feel part of what is happening at CIL on a group level.”

“The new business and growth plan for 2030 seems ambitious but doable given the excellent leadership. New Partners have been beneficial and really bring in expert outside knowledge which they can leverage effectively.”

Hiring Process

“Amazingly friendly interview process, the recruitment team are fantastic.”

“Analyst process - online assessment, 1st round interview (case study), 2nd round interview (extended case study), 3rd round interview (CV based chat). Someone who is keen to learn and motivate themselves. Personable and with common sense.”

“CIL is very quick to respond during the interview process. Current employees at CIL spend a lot of time making sure the process is as supportive as possible.”

“CIL's interview and callback process is excellent and, by far, the best I experienced when applying to consultancies - Margie is a godsend! Applicants are rung before and after every interview with an update and feedback to work on as well as being given a mentor to coach them through the whole process. CIL went out of their way to schedule interviews at times that were convenient to me and I really appreciated the care shown towards me both during and outside the interview and callback process. The ideal candidate is someone who exemplifies our values, is a team player, has good communication skills, is analytical and has a curiosity to learn above all else.”

“The interview and callback process is very well run, and candidates all get timely updates after their interviews. Everything is well explained and a mentor from within the company is assigned to everyone who makes it to the interview stage.”

Interview Questions

“Classic market sizing, 'describe a time when' formats etc.”

“How many care homes are there in the UK?”

“How much does a cinema make in a year?”

“Pick a company you are familiar with and create a market model for the industry in which they operate. Discuss where this company sits within the market and how its share might change over the next three years.”

“There are usually market sizing exercises, data interpretation and a text-based case study. The text-based case study feels easier than the format used by many other consultancies.”

CIL Management Consultants

12 Kingsway
Frome BA11 1BT
Phone: +44 20 3829 2700

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Managing Partner: Jon Whiteman
Senior Partner: Alex Marshall
2023 Employees (All Locations): 200

Major Office Locations

London, UK
Frome, UK
Munich, Germany
Paris, France

Major Departments & Practices

Built environment
Business services
Financial services
Mergers and Acquisitions
Value creation
Advanced Analytics