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Vault’s Verdict

Health Advances is a true boutique, boasting three decades of experience across the entire life sciences sector. As such, the firm offers consultants the opportunity to make rapid career progress via exposure to a wide variety of engagements, along with the ability to exert a great deal of control over their work life balance.

With good compensation and an extremely tight-knit culture to boot, this is a firm that is built to retain employees for the long term, and it shows. Each year, insiders wax lyrical about HA’s commitment to taking care of them, which makes it no surprise that it has eased consultants back into very limited travel only where necessity and the individual’s comfort dictate. Whether you’re new to healthcare consulting or a seasoned veteran, HA is a firm worth considering if quality--of life and project work—are your primary career concerns.

Firm Culture

“30 years of history covering all sectors of healthcare (not only biopharma and medical devices, but also diagnostics, digital health, health IT). This history lends itself not only to deep institutional knowledge, but also through tens of thousands of relationships with experts and key opinion leaders in the industry.”

“Based on my interview experience with other life science firms, their definition of life science is limited to biopharma. This is 100% not the case at Health Advances. We really have a wide breadth of projects in the life science space.”

“Given my limited experience in the consulting world, here is what differentiated them for me:

When asked about employee wellness, most firms will give canned answers with new initiatives that are taking place. When I asked HA, instead of a canned response, they gave me real personal experiences about how managers go above and beyond to make sure people are happy. That's the difference I saw and it was huge to me when interviewing!”

“I believe that caliber of the work we do with advising clients in the healthcare space in combination with the quality of life that employees maintain cannot be beaten by our competitor firms. We care about employees at all levels and work to make sure they have their voices represented in the firm's decisions and culture.”

“Our deliverables and commercial assessments are very sound and reliable. We have been brought in several times in the last year to re-do work that our peer consulting firms have done.”

Quality of Life

"Best: Leadership's flexibility and commitment to always striving to help employees achieve the work life balance and quality of life they want. This includes a deliberate, long-term commitment to limited travel requirements, and expansion of parental leave several years ago. Work life balance is always a struggle in consulting, but Health Advances leadership always keeps it front of mind, and is always striving to improve things; they see that this is something that needs active work to maintain, not something they can make one or two changes and then ignore. This applies at both the policy level and the individual level. At the policy level, they are frequently surveying employees on relevant issues, and incorporating that feedback into policies, identifying specific policies that improve quality of life. At the individual level, allowing consultants to specialize (or not) in their desired areas helps a lot- my quality of life at work is easier, and my work is better, because I can specialize in the area that most interests me. 

Also at the individual level, they are very thoughtful about supporting each employee in the way they need, and also see that as an ongoing process. For example, they have been flexible about consultants who want to go down to part time if that is better suited to their work-life balance preferences, either for brief periods or long term.

Worst: Crunch periods with longer hours are typical around the end of projects and interim client deliverables. Some degree of this is inevitable, but it can wear on team members. Hiring has sometimes struggled to keep up with growth, which puts more pressure on consultants.”

“Coming into consulting, we are expecting a heavy workload and long hours. However, partners/directors/managers are extremely conscious about our work/life balance. When appropriate (90% of the time) they will regularly remind us that there is no need to stay late to finish certain tasks. Granted, some cases require long hours, but that is to be expected from the professional services industry. I definitely appreciate that there is little to no travel required, which may be a negative for some people. Colleagues are all especially smart and I don't feel a sense of pressure to avoid taking time-off. We have plenty of PTO in addition to mandated company closures and managers are always flexible. Did I mention that our employment contract includes up-to 3 days of community service? This culture was the reason I chose HA over other offers.”

“HA definitely cares a great deal about quality of life and work/life balance. This is demonstrated by their recent enactment of a summer break week (the whole company shuts down for a week in August, and every gets the time off without having to take PTO or feel like teams are working without them), emphasis on our weekly outlook survey (we fill out a survey at the end of the week indicating how many hours we expect to spend on various projects the following week, so we can give a heads up to management if we expect we'll be working more than 50 hours and they can see what can be done to make up for it), and frequent internal weeks in which we're either lightly staffed or not at all staffed and able to catch up on tasks that we haven't had time for or take a break. I was nervous about consulting and the impact it would have on my free time and quality of life, but I've been very pleasantly surprised with HA. We do have busy weeks here and there, but for the most part I've found it extremely manageable.”

“Limited travel is likely a plus for overall work-life balance, and the pandemic has further reduced that. After a period of very strong growth, management has also focused more attention on work life balance and retention, instituting policies like quarterly catch-up weeks, an additional week of vacation in the summer, and routine check ins on people's anticipated hours for the coming week. I have been really impressed by these efforts, and I think they've contributed to us having relatively high retention rates and relatively reasonable average hours.”

“The firm really tries to manage the hour expectations for each case through a weekly outlook survey and timesheet, where you report your hours that you spent working. While this cannot always mitigate the occasional long weeks, the firm has their eye and a pulse on how employees are feeling with their workload and seeks to figure out ways to adjust. Plus, the firm already does not have a lot of travel for our da-yto-day casework, so the hours are never too bad when compared to management consulting firms. For example, this week they introduced a ‘shut down’ week, where the entire office closed for the last week of August. This additional shutdown did not take away from our already allocated vacation days.”


“Compensation is generally competitive, and there is no discrimination in pay on the basis of gender or any other factors.”

“I think that the 401(k) not vesting until year 3 makes it challenging for young graduates out of college who typically depart before 3 years for their next job opportunity.”

“I'm mostly pleased with total compensation. I believe it is lower than similar firms, but I also think we have better work/life balance, so it's probably fair. But the problem is progression--especially this year with extreme inflation, my merit raise was effectively a pay decrease because percentage-wise it could not keep up with cost of living increases, which is very disappointing.

I believe HA emphasizes pay equality. All new hires with the same degree starting at the same level start on the same salary, which seems fair. Beyond that I haven't been able to compare my merit increase with my peers, so I'm not sure how long this equality lasts or how far it goes. 

There aren't many great perks of HA. Our insurance, 401k match, maternity leave, and others are all very standard and could be much better.”

“Salary is certainly lower than the large firms, unsure how it compares to others of similar size, however I am satisfied with the salary considering I believe work life balance and total hours worked are better than firms offering higher salaries.”

“The pay is lower than its healthcare strategy competitors, but it beats them out in terms of WLB every time.”

Career Development

“As a relatively newer hire (~1yr), I've found countless opportunity to jump around from different sectors in biomedicine, such as biopharma/diagnostics/digital health. Given my experience, I haven't had the opportunity to see the promotional process first-hand, but I know there are formal review systems and frequent promotions for high performers.”

“Best: Health Advances has a default career progression, but they are willing to adapt it to individual needs. There are a number of consulting staff who have had hybrid roles that combined their traditional consulting project management with other responsibilities. Several relevant examples: splitting time between consulting and managing the training program or combining more than typical business development and practice support work with consulting. This flexibility helps HA retain workers with varied talents and interests.

Worst: While the initial training program is great, and the informal support for advancing consultants is very strong, the formal training in advanced skills, be it project management, content, or specialized skills, can be limited.”

“Firm is very focused on professional development with senior leaders serving as formal mentors and ongoing training. Firm is also providing PD resources for career tracks outside of consulting and doing a better job engaging with alumni in industry.”

“HA is very clear on the competencies required to advance to the next level, and mentors are very open to discussing them with mentees. But for some mentors there seems to be a mentality of assuming that consultants will stay in their role for a specified amount of time regardless of their ability to meet the competencies and advance. I've heard mentors say things like, ‘During your two years as a senior analyst...’, which seems contrary to the idea that you can move up at any time when you meet the competencies.”

“The firm has an extensive 7-week training program for all new hires that helps adjust to the pace of casework prior to starting formally in your position. Once you are formally staffed on projects, the firm takes your feedback for your casework preferences that determines the sector area where you get most projects. In addition to that, there are opportunities for internal business development work that allow even younger, entry-level people to get exposure to writing proposals, etc. Ultimately, the best career opportunities emerge through your continued discussion with your 1-1 mentor, who holds a more senior position in the firm, to help encourage continued development within all aspects of the firm.” 

Community Engagement

“A lot of effort to recruit from different backgrounds - different schools, diverse previous experience, etc. We have extremely strong female presence at the company (lower levels and upper management) and seem to have decent LGBTQ representation as well. Ethnic diversity is also good and trending towards even better. Recruiting is actively working on this. The HA team launched a platform for DEI training for the firm. We will have 3 hour-long sessions through an online platform plus hour long moderated discussions for each.”

“The firm has a strong history of gender equality and is at gender parity (or majority women) at all levels of the company including senior leadership. This is an area where HA excels. They've also recently put a lot of support toward our LGBTQ employees with a dedicated affinity group, sponsored events (e.g. drag queen bingo), and events during Pride month. Our efforts toward racial and ethnic diversity are more nascent but I think they've made good progress. I'm not aware of any diversity efforts targeting people with disabilities or military veterans.”

“The firm has made a sincere commitment to DEI initiatives over the past 2 years, including launch of a pro-bono consulting initiative, evaluation of firm culture via anonymous surveys, expanded recruitment to colleges with underrepresented populations, and hosting workplace conversations about equity and bias.”

“There is need for improvement, as there is everywhere, but leadership is aware of this, sees it as a genuine problem, and is making long-term efforts to improve. This process is slow, but it is enduring, and has shown real progress, both in terms of adding trainings to support building and maintaining an inclusive environment, changing hiring practices to improve racial and ethnic diversity, and supporting and LGBTQ+ affinity group, with encouragement for other similar support groups to form. The company has always, as far as I can tell, been committed to gender diversity- since the founding, it has been either evenly split by gender, or with more women than men, and this extends from entry level hires to senior leadership.”

“We have an internal team focused on expanding diversity and equity. I don't know of anyone's disability or veteran's status, so I cannot speak to that. In our office, we have a diverse team who seem to all have the exact opportunity for work and promotion. Additionally, we have teams who work on pro bono projects dedicated to disadvantaged people. “

Business Outlook

“Employee morale is great. It may be because I am a relatively new hire, but everyone seems to love working here. I came from an academic background, where grad students would regularly meet up for beers to lament about their frustrations with their advisors. Here, when we meet for happy hours, we talk about how exciting new projects are. Sometimes it comes up that work hours are tough for certain projects but that comes with the territory.

With regards to the strengths and weaknesses of the firm within the industry, we are regularly publishing academic papers and working with some of the largest companies in the space. However, one place of weakness/development that can be leveraged more is the sophisticated analytics. While HA is currently developing a more diverse analytical skillset with new hires/committees/programs, I think our past cases could have used some additional focus on data science and advanced quantitative techniques.”

“I think the firm is innovative, particularly within our digital health practice and continued attention to increasing our analytical capabilities. I think our employees are all excited to come to work every day and bring a passion to our projects, while trying to prevent burnout.”

“Investing in advanced analytics capabilities which will allow us to take on even more complex projects. We just brought in a really awesome, large new-hire class and we are continuing to grow (though at a very sustainable pace)! We have so many projects from return clients, and a crop of really exciting new clients who seem to be interested in continuing partnership with us.”

“Market headwinds and volatility are tough for virtually all companies everywhere. Budgets for business services, including consulting, are often among the first things to be cut. That said, we serve companies that make healthcare products and healthcare is relatively recession resistant compared to other industries.”

“While the industry is experiencing some softness now, overall healthcare is resilient and companies still need to make important business decisions. When they do, Health Advances will continue to be a strong and valuable resource.”

Hiring Process

“An ideal candidate fits well within the collaborative culture and is someone with intellectual curiosity and motivation to become an expert in the healthcare sectors we work in.”

“Ideal candidate is poised and thoughtful in answers - not reciting frameworks they memorized from Case in Point. Some knowledge of healthcare industry is important for senior analysts. For analysts, limited industry knowledge but significant biology knowledge is acceptable.”

“Interview format was long and not unlike other firms in the sense that it was several 1-hour blocks. One difference from the HA process was the opportunity to meet with a team member for 30 minutes and just chat/ask questions about the firm.”

“Recruiting team follows up with candidates quickly. It is a very fair process. The company is looking for people with a passion for healthcare who are team players and have strong critical thinking skills.”

“The interview process was one of the most professional and efficient processes I experienced during the recruiting cycle. The ideal candidate is one that can demonstrate the ability to be in consulting, but I think there is extra emphasis on demonstrating a candidate can fit in with the overall company culture and fits our effort to hire for ‘kind.’”

Interview Questions

“All case interviews are built based on actual cases we've completed for clients at Health Advances - practice with the examples on our website to prepare.”

“Describe a time when you were overwhelmed by information/tasks and how you strategized to efficiently digest the information/complete the tasks."

“Every person writes their own case based on project work. Often ask candidates to tell us about a time that they've worked in a team, why they are interested in healthcare consulting, etc. Cases include biopharma, medtech, digital health, and diagnostics.”

“Market sizing, company strategy, portfolio prioritization.”

“Typical healthcare consulting questions - market sizing, basic strategy, open ended discussions. Industry areas vary but are mostly pharma, devices, diagnostics, digital health, health IT, and investors.”

Health Advances

275 Grove Street
Suite 1-300
Newton, MA 02466
Phone: (781) 647-3435

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Partner and Managing Directors: Sheela Hegde, Gary Gustavsen, Tracy Walters, and Vivek Mittal, PhD
Managing Director and COO: Kristen M. Turner
2023 Employees (All Locations): 200

Major Office Locations

Newton, MA
San Francisco, CA
Zug, Switzerland
Hong Kong

Major Departments & Practices

  • Corporate Strategy
  • Product Development and Portfolio Strategy
  • Go-to-Market and Commercial Strategy
  • Business Development Strategy
  • Commercial Due Diligence
  • Market Access and Pricing in Biotech and Pharmaceuticals
  • Diagnostics, Research Tools, and Precision Medicine
  • MedTech, Digital Health and Enterprise HIT, and Investors