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Vault’s Verdict

At ghSMART & Co., the emphasis is on delivering impactful leadership advisory services, drawing professionals who relish the opportunity to tackle high-stake challenges. The firm is celebrated for its client impact and flexible working model, but its fully remote structure can sometimes lead to a sense of disconnection among colleagues.

In terms of culture, the firm places a strong emphasis on autonomy, allowing consultants to tailor their workload to their individual needs (the upside of that fully remote structure). This model offers freedom but also requires consultants to effectively manage their own career trajectory and work-life balance. Compensation is directly tied to productivity, allowing for high earning potential based on individual effort and client engagement.

All told, this is a firm that will appeal to self-starters, and may well be a better fit for seasoned professionals than those setting out on a career and looking to build networks through in-office socialization and training opportunities. For those in the former camp, however, this is a firm that will provide the tools and space to make an impact, with less of the fuss and bureaucracy at some competitors.


Employee Reviews

Firm Culture

  • “Consider ghSMART if you enjoy solving leadership issues at the top of the house of Fortune 500 or Private Equity backed companies. Ideally, start at a major strategy consulting firm to build basic business acumen, then consider joining us!”
  • “ghSMART pioneered leadership advisory and remains the undisputed industry leader. What ghSMART does in the market, others follow.”
  • “I've found my sweet spot—high impact, really meaty challenges, and deep human engagement—all the while being well-compensated.”
  • “The combination of rock-solid data and a kind, caring, empathetic approach to answering the most critical questions on the minds of our clients.”
  • “We keep the quality of people and engagements from MBB but do it in a sustainable manner with freedom and flexibility.”

Quality of Life

  • “For me, the best aspects are around your ability to shape the job to fit your life.  There is no sense of ‘face time,’ and you can decide how many projects you want to take on, which allows you to be more or less busy based on what you personally need. You can also work flexible hours, and from anywhere, which gives a lot of optionality over time.”
  • “High control over how much work you take on—you are compensated for the work completed, so you can choose to take it easier or work harder and directly see the benefit from doing so.”
  • “Most optionality and flexibility you'll find anywhere in the industry. Work how much/little you want, with who you want, where you want, on what you want.”
  • “This is definitely a high impact but high freedom and flexibility work culture. Best I’ve ever seen or heard of in this respect.”
  • “We decide on where and how much we want to work.  It is a culture of radical transparency.  The work always has to deliver 100% client satisfaction, but the volume and intensity is chosen by the consultant (and of course, compensation is tied to how much and how well we deliver work).”

Career Development

  • “Able to go at your own speed. It is less rigid than up-or-out structures at other firms, you can move to get promoted/take on more quickly or slower to your liking. Exceptional apprenticeship and hands-on learning for new joiners, particularly compared to training received at MBB firms.”
  • “ghSMART does an excellent job with diversity, committing to diverse views from a variety of different lenses. The commitment there is palpable. Training is frequent and targeted (there's a key training session on Monday on a super-relevant topic).”
  • “Mentorship and coaching are plentiful, thoughtful, and intentional. Every team member at ghSMART is devoted to each other's successes.”
  • “The firm offers career development support like nowhere else I have ever worked. I've had some of the best mentors in my career here - people who have worked with me, both on the field and on the sidelines, to help me build the skills I need to be successful and achieve my career goals.”
  • “We have the best apprenticeship model in the industry. Senior partners work with first years. New consultants have senior client exposure from month one. We have a very clear and transparent promotion process based on outcomes, not networking.”


  • “Activity driven, you can take on more client work and get directly paid for the work you do.  If you are motivated to work a lot, it is highly compelling financially.  Additional year-end bonuses are nice as well.”
  • “Best part is the limitless bonus potential. Worst is not a lot of extraneous perks.”
  • “Our compensation is primarily tied to our productivity, which makes it much easier to decide how much you want to do, clearly understanding how effort translates into compensation. We also have a bonus that is not tied to client work, but instead how much you invest in helping build the firm. This helps promote all team members working ‘on the business’, not just ‘in the business.’”
  • “The compensation package is very transparent and extensive. I am very happy with the compensation here.”
  • “You get paid for how much value you add for our clients.  Many of us now earn more than our former colleagues who are still at MBB firms.”

Community Engagement

  • "Firm makes no accommodations for people who can’t type for extended hours. Two people I know who had issues with it effectively got pushed out of the firm."
  • “ghSMART actively promotes diversity both in its own hiring and with its clients; we are more than 50% female in the consultant ranks, as an example.”
  • “Over 55% of our consultants are women, including 53% of our partners. Over 35% of our team are diverse in some way (racial, ethnic, LGBTQ+, veterans, etc.) All of our committees have strong representation from all groups to ensure our leadership teams are diverse. Along with this, our highly transparent scorecards (job expectations) and compensation system apply equally to everyone, ensuring everybody has equal access to work and gets rewarded the same way. Our surveys with external benchmark providers tell us we are in the 95th percentile with respect to our DE&I practices.”
  • “We don't yet have many consultants with disabilities, but I am certain that we would be open to that. We excel on all other fronts, and I frequently have incredibly diverse teams, which brings more valuable work to our clients.”
  • “We have an incredibly diverse team, and value diversity and inclusion greatly. We also have a Fellows program that has boosted diversity even more, where we have given amazingly talented college students/leaders the chance to work within the firm and learn about what we really do.”

Business Outlook

  • “ghSMART was and continues to be the trailblazer in the field of leadership advisory and analytics. We have the largest data set in the world on C-suite executive assessments and continue to invest in ways to use this information to assist our clients.”
  • “In a year that's been tough for other consulting firms, ghSMART has thrived. We continue to win in the marketplace due to our strong, trusted advisor relationships with Boards and CEOs.”
  • “Our firm is the industry pioneer and still the industry leader in driving leadership advisory forward. What ghSMART does in the market, others follow.”
  • “We are holding strong in a year when the market for consulting is down. We have strong client relationships, strong IP, strong brand, and the best people.”
  • “We grew at a record pace from 2020 to 2022 but have softened with the rest of the industry in 2023. Our clients continue to call us to help them resolve their thorniest leadership issues, but we have noticed more of a ‘wait and see’ attitude in the market in general. That said, we pioneered the ‘leadership advisory’ segment of the management consulting market, and clients continue to rely on us as the go-to firm despite our premium pricing.”
  • “We pioneered our area of consulting. We are considered the gold standard in leadership advisory and assessment.”

Hiring Process

  • “ghSMART has a rigorous, long interview process that goes through many steps before an offer is extended, including a case study and our proprietary SmartAssessment. The ideal candidate is introspective but driven and has a sharp analytical mind. I remain impressed by the quality of the candidates that make it through the process; they are well positioned to thrive as soon as they hit the door."
  • “Very thorough but collaborative mutual diligence process. Ideal candidate is extraordinarily accomplished at top schools and firms and consistently achieved top end performance.”
  • “We are seeking elite players from other advisory firms who care about leadership, organization, and people as the levers to create value.”
  • “We conduct an initial introductory call to explain what we do and explore interest, followed by a phone screen and a case study. If the candidate passes and wants to continue, we conduct a SmartAssessment which is where we walk through their career in depth using the 5 questions [outlined in the “Interview Questions” section. If they pass that and want to continue, we conduct reference calls and a background check, and give them a chance to talk to about five to eight members of our team, including our president and chairman.
  • "We look for 1) exceptional strategy consultants with high EQ who are passionate about leadership issues, 2) exceptional PhD psychologists who understand business, and 3) operators with an unusual combination of IQ, EQ, and passion for solving leadership issues.”
  • “We typically hire out of strategy consulting firms or for consultants who have a PhD psychology background.”

Interview Questions

  • “Incredibly difficult to get hired. Need to have top-notch academic achievement + McKinsey/Bain/BCG experience (or, in select cases, another academy company experience). There are 2 preliminary one-hour interview screens. After that, there is the 4-hour SmartAssessment. After that, 6-8 reference checks.”
  • "We have a full case study we put our candidates through, where they have to take a large biographical data set and develop their own analysis of the executive.”
  • “We use the same interview method we describe in our New York Times bestseller, Who: The A Method for Hiring. For each job a person has held, we ask:
    1. What were you hired to do?
    2. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
    3. What were the low points in the job? What didn't go as well?
    4. Who did you work with, and what will they say about you when we reference them?
    5. Why did you leave that job?”
  • “What did you specifically contribute to prior results? Where and how did you apply a new skill? What will your past bosses tell us when we do a reference check?”
  • “What was your proudest accomplishment? Best idea?  Who was your biggest fan, and for what reason? Where did you have the biggest impact? Who was your biggest critic, and why? What is your biggest do-over from job x?”
Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Chairman: Dr. Geoff Smart
Vice-Chairman: Randy Street
President: Jeff McLean
2021 Employees (All Locations): 125

Major Office Locations

U.S., U.K., and Germany

Major Departments & Practices

Leadership Advisory