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Vault’s Verdict

With a global footprint, a strong reputation across a variety of fields including health care and strategy consulting, there’s little doubt that L.E.K. is one of the strongest challenger brands to the Big Three strategy shops in the industry. Make no mistake: while the firm’s name may not be as well-known in wider circles as those at the very pinnacle of the industry, L.E.K.’s capabilities and client reputation are every bit as advanced.

As an employer, L.E.K. is known for its human approach to staffing and retention—travel projects tend to be at the consultant’s discretion and, while hours can still be demanding, the firm has made inroads into mitigating these in recent years—with the rise of remote work also helping in this regard.

Unsurprisingly, compensation was the biggest issue for insiders in a year that was marked by high inflation—there is a sense that starting salaries lag some of the firm’s bigger competitors. Whether the firm plans to address this in 2023 is unknown at the time of writing, but with a significant portion of its recent work coming from M&A—typically stronger during growth cycles—there are many at the firm who will be watching the economy nervously in the months ahead. That said, the firm does have a profit-sharing initiative as part of its compensation plan, which the firm reports as having comprised at least 10% of associates’ annual comp for the last ten years—this does bode well for the near future.

Firm Culture

“Collaborative work environment. We do not have an 'up or out' policy, so colleagues feel comfortable supporting and coaching one another. There is no competition between peers.”

“Firm culture (if you fit in with the culture) makes the job enjoyable. Not necessarily something you can fully control, but being part of social planning committees and other internal efforts helps with sense of belonging.”

“L.E.K. is proud of its firm culture and local model. While I constantly get to interact with employees at other offices, I am able to bond well with those at my local office. And even when meeting someone from the opposite coast, we connect over similar values that have been spread across all offices from leadership. This type of culture makes me very proud to work here. It also makes the work much more enjoyable day-to-day.”

“The culture of the firm and my colleagues within create an atmosphere of almost family, wherein no one wants to leave anyone else out in the cold. That, and the pace of engagements leads to very quick learning on the job, enabling a relatively fast gathering of expertise across a broad range of industries.” 

“We do not travel nearly as much as our competitors. This allows our people to put down roots where they live. They can see their families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues much more regularly, and that fosters a sense of community within your personal and professional life. It can be an underrated value proposition, but it sets up our people to have a full life while working a demanding job.”

Quality of Life

“Best: Although it has the rigors of management consulting, you don't have to travel which is great if you have a family. Additionally, you also have all of the bad hours usually contained within the first 3 days of the week. Weekends are protected religiously, Fridays are usually easy, and the firm's Out By Six policy allows safeguards another day of the week against encroachment by bad hours. Additionally, they pay for dinner when you work [past 8 pm.]”

Worst: Some days can be brutal. When you're in the throes of a bad 3-day stint, it can be challenging.”

“Consulting hours are never easy; however within the industry I feel that L.E.K. works hard to promote WLB where possible. Out by Six and Summer Fridays go a long way in allowing space in my calendar for hobbies and personal time. Also, not travelling to client sites is a huge advantage in my opinion.”

“Generally hours are manageable; occasionally, can be on a very intensive case with less manageable hours but those are generally rare. Firm tries to promote work-life balance with out by six and early release on Fridays (and even earlier on Fridays in the summer for Summer Fridays). Various social initiatives and in-office events cultivate a strong work culture, and the people L.E.K. attracts are generally community-oriented and active participants in the L.E.K. community.”

“L.E.K. has a lower travel model, and this has been fantastic for my personal life. It allows me to be home with my wife and kids regularly. Even when there are longer hours, I still wake up in my bed and am able to see my family each day, which I appreciate. The downside of the quality of life are the long hours. It can start to wear you down. I don't know how different L.E.K. is from other firms, but I know the long hours can get exhausting.” 

“We have a lot of things in place to make the balance work. In particular, the light travel model and a strong emphasis on not working weekends as well as efforts to give some predictability during the week. Overall, the balance seems to work well, although there continue to be opportunities to invest in support for consulting teams.”


“Base compensation is competitive and salary progression is fair, total compensation feels overstated, particularly for off-cycle hires, as bonuses are scaled to be much lower for a 'meets expectations' than an exceeds or outstanding, but all employees are evaluated within context of their peer group without consideration for tenure.”

“Compensation has clear visibility. However, the bonus alignment does not make much sense as total comp is evaluated as a function of 5/5 on performance which is then compounded as the profit share is based on total earned. Only a small percentage get a 5 (5-10%) and a 4/5 will cut your bonus in half which then impacts your profit share as well. In reality, 90% of the firm is not making the quoted ‘competitive salary’ because of this.”

“L.E.K. offers a great salary and bonus structure with fantastic benefits. As a parent, the parental leave and the medical benefits have been incredible for my family, and I continue to be very grateful to L.E.K. for those. If I had to change something, it would be to make the 401(k) contribution a match up to a certain percentage, rather than pulling that contribution out of the profit share the firm gives each year. But honestly, that is just splitting hairs at this point, because the compensation and benefits are great.”

“Our pay lags behind industry, our 401K [contribution] comes out of profit share, and the performance bonus is negligible relative to the profit share. Therefore, compensation is tied to firm performance rather than individual performance. While in theory this sounds like a good arrangement, it incentivizes high performers at the associate and MBA levels to leave, since they are underpaid relative to their potential, and performance isn't recognized by appropriately scaled compensation.”

“We are uncompetitive when it comes to base salary. As a second-year associate, I make less than a first year at MBB, EYP, S&, and Accenture Strategy. The firm had an opportunity to correct this and completely missed the mark. We will be losing people because of this and our recruiting for full-time will take a hard hit. Missed opportunity.”

Career Development

“As is always the case in corporate workplaces, diversity could be improved, although leadership is working on it in some ways. Promotion process for those below consultant is a tad slow, and the direct-to-project-lead MBA hire model can be truly grueling for team dynamic / work-life balance / sustainability at the firm when the MBA hire could use a longer trial period before being a solo project lead. Would say the challenging / stimulating work and learning opportunities, and the informal support from others in the firm would be the greatest strengths.”

“Best - L.E.K. has a predictable and steady promotion schedule with substantive pay increases; you get feedback every month or two, so you will always know if you are on track or eligible for an early promotion. Informal career development is great as all junior staff are more than willing to help/provide advice and formal mentors are assigned to you from day one with the option for you to switch if you would like.

Worst - Formal trainings are few and far between, and not always the most productive when it comes to things like learning hard skills (e.g. Tableau, Alteryx etc.). It seems like most of your upskilling is expected to happen either on your own time or during case work.”

“Clear promotional timelines and set roles for each of the associate levels along with a number of resources and opportunities to step up in knowledge and skill related practices. Worst aspect may also be this rigid structure as there should be better reward for overachievers.”

“L.E.K. does an incredible job of setting each staff level up for success - there are highly extensive professional development resources available to us both in written / online interactive form and live form. The first invests to fly every associate to multiple boot camps during their first two years, and to provide similar live training opportunities for post-MBA consultants. I could not be prouder of the firm's efforts in this area.”

"The best aspect of L.E.K.'s career development model is the meritocratic nature and overall speed of advancement. There are no politics. It is about performance, plain and simple. MBAs can make it to a true partner-level role (i.e., not just the title) in as few as six years.

The worst aspect of L.E.K.'s career development model is that there's an element of luck to which projects you are on, with which partners, etc. Some individuals have been promoted early because they'd had the good fortune of being on projects where they could really shine. It all tends to come out in the wash (i.e., those who make partner first generally deserve to do so) but, in the short term, it can be frustrating to see a peer promoted from consultant to manager on an earlier timetable than you."

Community Engagement

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion has been a key priority at the firm over the last several years, and while it is clear that more work is ahead, the firm continues to make progress on a variety of fronts. Most recently, the firm has created more formalized support and funding for employee resource groups (ERGs), which is laying the foundation for further expansion of programming and supports to recruit, hire, retain, and develop historically underserved individuals.”

“Hiring and promotion are very inclusive of diverse backgrounds. All firm staff are trained every year or two by in-person interactions with third-party D&I consultants that make us think about implicit bias during hiring and regular work life. Firm has made a conscious effort to recruit staff from a larger pool of universities, created Pre-MBA workshops open to people from under-represented backgrounds to invite interested individuals to learn more about the firm. Overall, promotion policies seem very neutral to race, gender and ethnicity, although of course we can and should do more to expand the funnel of schools that we recruit from.”

“Strong presence for Mosaic and our LGBTQ+ communities, and I don’t believe that there are any limits on promotional opportunities. Comp, however, may be limiting our attractiveness to diverse candidates who often have similar opportunities at consultancies who pay more.”

“The firm definitely highlights diversity, equity, and inclusion and you can see the efforts amongst the prevalence of women in the firm. Still ways to go for more of this in upper management, but progress seems to be coming across these groups.”

“We've got dedicated staff working to hire more diverse folk at all levels and make our teams more representative of the nation. I like to think we're all on equal footing for work and opportunities but I can only speak from my perspective, I don't know what the reality is like being a historically under- represented minority here.”

Business Outlook

“Being a pure-play strategy shop, the business engagements will always come thick and heavy. As with most firms outside of the MBB firms, follows the trends set by MBB rather than leading the way.”

“Due diligence work in the M&A space is likely to decrease, which is a significant part of L.E.K's business. This is not a bad thing since activity was crazy and project lead times were far too long previously and now they have dropped to a much more manageable level. Decrease in DD work is likely to be offset by increase in strategy work amidst uncertain economic conditions.”

“Even after 40+ years, L.E.K. continues to experience remarkably robust revenue growth both in more established sectors and service lines as well as emerging practices. The quality of the work often rapidly translates to repeat business from clients.”

“Firm has a unique value proposition as a low-cost, high-volume player. Could call it the Sam's Club of consulting. Because of this, the clients will always come in because nobody does what we do, but it also means we make less money per client. CDD heavy deal flow also leaves us vulnerable to recessions. Overall outlook is good in the very-long term, but bad in the near-term if a recession is looming.”

“L.E.K. has developed a proven model (and ingrained a shared mindset among the global partner group) that has allowed it to grow and take share after every recession since its founding in 1983. Its broad coverage across industries, and particularly its leadership position in life sciences, has historically mitigated market cycle risk. Beyond its recession resilience, L.E.K. has instituted a program to encourage its more entrepreneurial partners to build new service line capabilities, which are already proving their worth in terms of deepening client relationships, opening up new revenue opportunities, and providing staff with new and exciting career path options. 

The worst aspect of L.E.K.'s model in terms of the business outlook is its exposure to the ebbs and flows of private equity. While the majority of L.E.K.'s work is with corporate clients, it has a larger focus on PE than any strategy firm its size or larger. As a result, the firm's economics can be impacted (both positively and negatively) by the highs and lows of deal volume.”

Hiring Process

“Call backs done promptly. Seeking candidates that are a) good fit with the firm b) demonstrate business acumen, c) quantitative capabilities and d) communication skills.”

“First round with 2 short interviews, immediate feedback (1-2 days) on progression to final round, and 3 case interviews in the final round; ideal candidates are sharp, Inquisitive, compassionate, willing to learn, humble, and confident in themselves.”

“Given that we have access to lots of analytically talented applicants, I think the key differentiating factor is candidates who bring a great attitude and willingness to learn in case teams.”

“Our ideal candidate is highly intelligent and ambitious while being well-rounded and friendly. Our interview and callback process is very standard - 3 rounds, combination of behavioral and case style interviews, including quant, business logic, and strategy cases.”

“The firm is quick to offer first round interviews for candidates that have a strong application. Final round interviews are much more difficult and ultimately offers will come down to demand and feedback from interviewers. L.E.K. continuously hires top talent from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. I am constantly impressed by the work ethic and intelligence of my teammates.”

Interview Questions

“Case studies including quant market sizing and qual strategy questions.”

“How do you work within a team to drive success? How do you approach new problems? What do you do differently from others?”

“I had 5 rigorous case studies to get an offer from the firm compared to the three that Deloitte gave me, which were significantly easier cases. It was part of the reason I took the offer from L.E.K., I believe they did a better job of identifying talent.”

“Strategy case - broad range of potential topics focused on strategic & business reasoning as it relates to a potential L.E.K. case (e.g., advising a beer company on whether or not they should enter the seltzer market).”

“What is the size of the park bench market in the U.S.? Here are two business opportunities, which would you recommend and why?”

L.E.K. Consulting

75 State Street
19th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
Phone: (617) 951-9500

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Global Managing Partner: Clay Heskett
Americas Region Head: Manny Picciola
European Region Head: Ben Faircloth
2023 Employees (All Locations): 2,000

Major Office Locations

Boston, MA (US HQ)

Major Departments & Practices

  • Management & Strategy Consulting
  • Operations & Supply Chain Consulting
  • Turnaround & Transformation Consulting
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Transaction Due Dilligence
  • Digital Strategy
  • Sustainability Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy.