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CVA (Corporate Value Associates)
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Vault’s Verdict

A self-described “boutique” firm, it is easy to overlook that CVA operates out of 17 offices in 15 countries around the world, including 8 in EMEA alone. That, combined with the firm’s strategy focus, makes CVA a dream outfit for anyone looking to carve a career in international business strategy.

Insiders note that the culture is of a series of tight-knit local offices that collaborate across both border and time zones as necessary—a fact that can make for some long hours (although not out of the ordinary by industry standards).

Additionally, this is a firm with growth very much in mind at present: insiders note that CVA has been ramping up headcount and exploring additional markets with a view to increasing its reach and scale in the years ahead. For those with an entrepreneurial mindset and the desire to play a role in building a firm, this may be an outfit worth learning more about.

Firm Culture

  • “CVA strongly focuses on C-level strategic questions for listed companies and market leaders, therefore the projects are highly analytical and of great importance for the overall development of the client.”
  • “If you want to do pure strategy consulting work in an entrepreneurial environment of people who want to pursue a fast-growth and individually tailored career while having a personal life, CVA is the place to be.”
  • “Our culture is pretty unique due to our small size. It is a very friendly, very casual yet an extremely demanding environment, with an incredible collective spirit. Feels like one big team. The overall experience here is just... elevating.”
  • “You will be working with colleagues who have a great variety in terms of backgrounds which also makes you grow personally.”
  • “Unique combination of international network of offices with small scale, giving a close-knit collaboration between teams of all nationalities combined and the ability to drive your career in the direction desired, with early exposure to responsibilities compared to competition.”

Quality of Life

  • “Best: high level of personal responsibility in every aspect (way of travelling, place of work, etc.)
    Worst: sometimes very long working hours (until 2 am or 3 am).”
  • “Definite emphasis on work-life balance and rewarding and recognising hard work. Easy to take time off.
  • However, would be good to have a buy-back policy with holidays, where you could purchase more holiday days.”
  • “Full flexibility as long as results are here/ very easy to take some time off for personal reasons / projects (I took 2 months last summer) - bespoke HR policy / full support during and after maternity leave.”
  • “Most of my clients are in Paris or Lyon so no reason to travel for now - I kind of hope that it may come in the future. But otherwise I feel like having a great pro-personal life balance, I work my 11-12hrs a day which is absolutely fine, but I enjoy real evenings and week-ends.”
  • “The firm can be extremely flexible, particularly the more senior you are, with considerable freedom to manage your own time so long as the work gets done on time. More junior staff, working full time on a single project, tend to have considerably less flexibility and depend on maintaining a good relationship with their project manager if they have specific needs they would like to be accommodated. While the firm is trying to improve its focus on ensuring team members have an acceptable work / life balance, at the end of the day, the need to deliver for the client will always come first. Particularly on short engagements, it is difficult to predict workload in advance, and so maintaining regular personal commitments outside work on weekdays (e.g. playing in a sports team) is essentially impossible.”

Compensation

  • “Base salary at most grades is competitive with Tier 2 consulting firms but starts to fall below market at more senior levels. Bonuses can be good although achieving the maximum bonus requires a combination of excellent individual performance, and luck in staffing (a high utilisation rate must be achieved throughout the year, which individual consultants have no control over other than making themselves in demand by being perceived as ‘good’). There is full transparency when it comes to base salary - all staff at the same grade in the same geographical office earn the same base salary. There is scope for rapid salary growth as a result of formal performance assessments every six months.”
  • “Fast salary progression linked to fast promotion. Equal pay and promotion track record regardless of personal background.”
  • “Pay has recently increased to be competitive with market, but bonus could be higher. Disparity in pay between different offices despite doing the same work is not very satisfactory.”
  • “Solid salary package progression every semester. High possible bonus packages. Performance based remuneration (based on transparent grids, no room for hidden politics).”
  • “Total salary equality and transparency - full flexibility and bespoke management of work life balance.”

Career Development

  • “Great mentorship experience. Thorough appraisals and very meritocratic system. Really feel like the managers/partners want to support my career development and see me excel. Mentorship highly dependent on mentor given and their level of commitment—not very regulated.”
  • “It is a small firm, so we may not have as many opportunities as there can be in bigger ones. On the other side, we have kind of a familial culture, very warm and welcoming, we never feel anonymous or like just one more consultant—we feel appreciated, known and accepted. It's a very special feeling.” 
  • “The firm is a true meritocracy with promotions based entirely on your own performance in absolute terms, rather than relative performance vs peers. There is no internal competition for a limited number of promotion slots, and people are not held back because there is ‘no room’ at higher levels. The firm aims to stretch people and move them up the career ladder as fast as they can go.”
  • “There is a typical ‘small firm problem’ in that if you do not get on with the partner who runs the practice area you are working in, then you may not have much of a future with the firm.”
  • “Very fast promotion path options (no standard or minimum time between roles). Incredible amount of responsibilities and exposure given when capable. Limited formal training (even if improving). Limited number of managers one works with in practice (handful, not tens).”

Community Engagement

  • “Equal access for consultants to interesting / high quality work and promotion opportunities. But required improvement in terms of diversity of employees (still few women, people with diverse backgrounds) both from recruitment pipeline & retention perspective. Ongoing initiatives within the firm to build a policy around that.”
  • "Firm's culture is very open to any type of individuals, with absolutely no difference of treatment and exactly the same opportunities. But the firm is also not proactive at fostering diversity.”
  • “I don't know much about the effort of the firm but as a consultant with an immigrant background I did not experience any negative bias. The firm employs lots of people coming from a large variety of countries.”
  • “That is probably an area of improvement, although ethnically it is balanced. But women clearly are at a disadvantage in senior positions.”
  • “We neither discriminate against or positively discriminate in favour of any minority group. Our employees are simply reflective of the pool of candidates who apply to us for jobs. In the office in which I am based, at the time of writing, roughly one third of consulting staff are female, and roughly one third are from visible ethnic minorities. Less than half are UK citizens. These proportions can fluctuate significantly from year to year. Race and gender have no bearing on staffing.”

Business Outlook

  • “Cutting edge strategy firm. Strong R&D. Family-owned company that allows full independence vs any kind of government / lobby.”
  • “Good outlook. CVA setting up for significant growth in the next few years (sizing up of offices, recruitment of partners, etc.).”
  • “Strong development program in place to grow the people, in particular senior people towards Partners, and the business, with increased cross-sector/teams/countries collaboration.”
  • “Very dependent on partners developing and bringing in work, some of who seem to do it well and others not so much, which creates concern. Would be more reassuring to have an even split of work across practices / partners.”
  • “When given the chance, we are able to demonstrate a quality of delivery that clients compare favourably to MBB. By focusing on delivery and building strong relationships at a senior level, we succeed in generating a significant amount of repeat business at relatively low cost to acquire, which allows us to maintain a strong baseline of revenue. We do extremely interesting work at the leading edge of strategic challenges in our chosen industries, which is very attractive to potential and current employees when compared to larger firms who pay lip service to the idea of being strategy houses, but make the bulk of the revenue from large-scale operational transformation work. There is also an aspiration to deliver significant top-line growth over the next 5 years. The firm's main weakness is a lack of strong brand recognition outside our core client group, which makes acquiring new customers very time-consuming.”

Hiring Process

  • “Currently looking for senior positions with long experience in the healthcare/life sciences sector. Rigor, autonomy, reliability... classic criteria I would say.”
  • “Feedback process is very strong. Interviewers take time to debrief a candidate, also when interview process stops. Ideal candidate is a combination of great interpersonal skills, good problem solving and business judgement, international mindset, and a good fit with the office."
  • “Ideal candidate is a graduate from best-in-class business or engineering school. With an entrepreneurial mindset/outgoing and passionate about strategy.” 
  • “Looking for students with a strong academic background coming from prestigious universities, analytical skills and interesting internships.”
  • “Very good, thorough feedback and communication throughout recruitment process. Looking for someone intelligent, hard-working and professional, who is willing to lead work and take initiative.”

Interview Questions

  • “Classical case interviews with case studies adapted from real life cases or market sizing exercises.”
  • “How many supermarkets are there in the UK?”
  • "Interview consists of 1) personal experience/fit; 2) typical strategy consulting case interview; 3) Q&A
  • Typical questions: Why CVA? Why strategy consulting? Example of leadership? Etc.”
  • “Market sizing: What is the number of EV fast charging stations in 2030 in Germany to exactly meet the demand at that time (without exceeding it).”
  • “We will typically ask candidates to structure and solve a business problem, often based on the project experience of the interviewer. In other cases, we may ask market sizing questions however these will often have a significant ‘business insight’ component to them, rather than being a simple exercise in adding and multiplying numbers together.”
CVA (Corporate Value Associates)

44 Great Marlborough Street
London W1F 7JL
Phone: +44 020 7559 5000

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Founder & Managing Partner: Paul-Andre Rabate

Major Office Locations

London (HQ)
Boston, MA
Washington, DC
Amsterdam
Auckland
Berlin
Brussels
Casablanca
Dubai
Melbourne
Milan
Paris
Riyadh
Seoul
Shanghai
Singapore
Sydney
Tokyo

Major Departments & Practices

  • Financial Services
  • New Service Models (FMCG & Retail)
  • Mining, Metals and Materials
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Buildings, Infrastructure, and Construction
  • Agri-foods
  • Automotive
  • New Healthcare Models