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Malk Partners

Vault’s Verdict

Within the wider consulting world, insiders at Malk Partners are relatively easy to identify: they’re consultants who seem to enjoy getting up to do their work every day. While that may be no surprise given the firm’s focus on making a positive impact in and on the world, what is remarkable is the degree to which that mission translates to a company culture that is open, connected, and recognizes employees as the center of the firm’s success.

Mission aside, the firm appears to do a good job balancing consultants’ workloads, despite occasional crunches related to due diligence work. The one tradeoff seems to be that compensation is less generous than at competing advisory firms in the financial sector—although that’s a difficult comparison to make, given the relative dearth of ESG-focused competitors.

Firm Culture

“Commitment to not greenwashing and actually making meaningful ESG change.”

“Expertise in ESG is strong, and the sole focus on ESG is unusual for a consulting firm, for which ESG is usually a service offering but not a core or prioritized service.”

“From a hiring standpoint, the opportunity to take on responsibility early in your career and/or in your time at the company. Firm gives everyone, from entry level associates through leadership opportunities to take on ownership of projects and initiatives, such as directly managing people only a few years out of undergrad. 

Across the board employees get exposure to clients and the broader market, as well as a variety of tasks. If you're willing to pursue some additional work or demonstrate that initiative, promotion paths upward can be shorter than what I've seen at other firms.”

“The people and culture of the firm is unmatched. Everyone is kind, supportive, interesting and incredibly smart. I often feel I am smarter because I have such talented colleagues. I learn from others often and everyone is interested in helping one another.”

Quality of Life

“For consulting, our work life balance is actually pretty good. It is also pretty easy to take time off as there are others who can fill in while you're away—although this becomes more challenging as you advance. Our work is definitely supply/demand driven, so things pick up very quickly and can be difficult to level out across different teams. I do think that we struggle with expectations surrounding hours; there is a disparity across the firm with how long different people are expected to or opt to work.” 

“Given PE focus, the mentality is very much always on. Expect [client] emails at 2AM, all the time on the weekend, etc. Can be hard to disconnect, there is always work to be done and the firm has no actual guidance on how to set boundaries—you could work 100 hours a week if you wanted. Firm is taking steps to promote more of a work/life balance and diversify types of work people do, but still early stages. I literally had to go to the Amazon rainforest on PTO to get away from actual obligations—PTO is seen as ‘work less’ vs ‘don’t work’.”

“Hours can be very manageable but depends heavily on client accounts your manager holds and your manager's or skip-level manager's ability to handle client requests. Busy cycles in the private equity market (spring and fall) lead to higher hours in those seasons. Very easy to take time off or sick leave and doing so is generally encouraged.”

“The firm provides perks in office and flexibility for out of office. In office perks include meals and snacks, which improves my quality of life. Out of office perks are Monday and Friday remote and flexible WFH, which allows me to spend time with my family.”

Compensation

“Base pay is lower than peer opportunities, but ESOP is nice and encourages emotional investment in the success of the business. Sentiment from CEO has been that pay increases will be commensurate to future organizational success, contingent on new strategic ventures of the business into new market adjacencies.”

“Great perk is company offsite where both offices aggregate and spend a few days getting to know colleagues and stepping away from the day to day of work as possible.”

“Malk has multiple aspects of compensation that are very attractive. Salaries are strong in relationship to hours worked and all employees getting ownership in the firm via an ESOP is amazing. Maternity/Paternity leave benefits are quite strong as well.”

“Pay seems relatively low to other firms or similar job opportunities. Salary progression is limited in line with the previous sentence. The compensation structure could be more clearly communicated especially as it pertains to how performance bonuses are calculated. There are few monetary incentives to go above and beyond here. There is a concerted effort that pay is equal.”

“The company does not allow employees to negotiate salary at all and insists on paying people based on tenure, rather than on performance—which can help mitigate pay inequity but does lead to top performers being underpaid. While the base salary is strong for the entry level, the bonuses are not on par what is offered by other firms … .”

Career Development

“Best aspect is that opportunities abound, you just need to decide which ones most align with your own personal goals. Training is very informal but you get good hands on experience.”

“Best is how quickly you can move up and take on new opportunities within the organization. Worst is the formality around which you do so. Seems like opportunities are given without any guidance or understanding of what Management is looking for and those expectation often change over time - further confusing things.”

“I really love working at Malk. The work challenges me daily and the content is engaging and purposeful. We’re accelerating in growth and so do not have every process ironed out so there are still areas for improvement in diversity. Since we are smaller, there are more opportunities for promotion or taking on projects of interest. Training is formalized during the onboarding process. but I would say you really learn most of the stuff on the job once you’re placed on a team. We are working on diversity as it’s been a pain point for the firm and I actively see the organization improving on diverse representation at more junior levels but not as much in leadership roles. I still feel like I’m learning a lot every day and get to touch a lot of different industries which I really enjoy. The development won’t always be formal but it exists and people want to support you in any way they can.”

“Malk Partners is a rapidly growing firm that is in the process of formalizing a lot of processes. This translates to both opportunity and confusion about promotions and development. That being said, the firm is dedicated to figuring it out and I am optimistic about its potential to put these in place. Diversity it valued here more than anywhere I have worked previously and like everything is else is developing, but I am optimistic about that too.”

“The core competencies and salary bands are clearly outlined for each role as well as the time expected to be in each role before being considered for a promotion. Every week there is opportunity for informal training from managers, the company has taken the time to build out a robust three-week formal training program.”

Community Engagement

“A lot of female representation. Not as much on the ethnicity and LGBTQ+ side. Representation does drop a lot when we get to leadership levels though. The Company has ERGs, a Culture and Inclusion internal committee, and is starting to work on diverse hiring initiatives.”

“D&I initiatives robust, but ethnic and socio-economic diversity continues to disappoint. Recent hires include many female-presenting employees, very few employees of color. Concerningly low number of men of color.”

“Good intern program focused on individuals from underrepresented backgrounds that helps bring in some good new talent. Company is largely female and has strong women-focused programs and internal initiatives. Company speaks about D&I a lot internally, and is trying to diversify its employee base racially and ethnically. Does not feel like there are unequal opportunities within company for advancement between demographic groups.”

“Our firm has put a lot of effort into improving our D&I efforts. For example, we have an annual summer internship program in which we solely hire interns from URM backgrounds. We track and report our diversity metrics in quarterly business reviews and have a 50/50 split of men and women at the organization. We are constantly reviewing our recruiting processes to hire diverse individuals and annually review our interview process to remove any biases.”

“This is a very gender diverse firm and a supportive LGBTQ+ environment. The firm does not have as robust of a presence of individuals with disabilities, ethnicities, and veterans. My impression is that everyone has equal opportunities here.”

Business Outlook

“As a leader in ESG, the firm is poised to succeed and continue owning the market, but management has not been forward looking in trying to expand offerings or take advantage of the massive growth in ESG….”

“Company was an early player in a booming industry. While competition has risen rapidly around us, our name and initial buy-in is still very strong from large customers. Innovating business model as well.”

“ESG is incredibly in-demand, which is great for business, but that increases the demand for good talent at more competitive pay ranges, which has impacted the retention of institutional knowledge as people leave for higher-paying opportunities in the space.”

“Our firm recently hired a new CEO and as a result, we are crafting a three-year strategy for the business. We plan to expand into new service offerings and enhance our current services to stay ahead of the competition. More broadly, ESG is an ever-evolving industry and Malk will only continue to be more relevant in the private markets.”

“We are a leading player in a very hot industry (ESG) right now, so I am pretty bullish on our firm's outlook. Competitors have definitely sprung up since I've been with Malk, but I feel very confident in the quality of our work.”

Hiring Process

“Firm conducts at least two interviews, a written take home assignment, followed by a super day that involves a case study, discussion of the written assignment, and behavioral interview.”

“First round, second round, case assignment, then final round super-day. Firm is looking for candidates who can think creatively about ESG issues and show an interest in ESG, but not necessarily required to have prior experience in ESG. Firm is also looking for college graduates or recent graduates it can rely to maintain its flow of delivery work, so qualities like attention to detail, good teamwork, commitment to process, and so on.”

“Malk seeks high functioning, self-starting individuals, such as those that might be drawn to earlier stage companies. A strong candidate is generally ambitious, accomplished, and polished, as well as thoughtful and personable during interviews. We are trying to move away from recruiting from only highly selective schools.” 

“Someone who is inquisitive, ready to learn, self-starter, and can demonstrate the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities at once.”

“We look for individuals that are entrepreneurial, care about sustainability/social impact, and are resilient.”

Interview Questions

“Describe how ESG issues apply to specific industries, including how a company would manage ESG issues.”

“Indicate the most material issues for a business operating in x industry. What questions would you ask the management team of a company in this industry to better understand their risk and capacity with regard to x issue?”

“We ask general behavioral questions, a few ESG specific questions (which ESG issues are most relevant for a Company that does XYZ).”

Malk Partners

7911 Herschel Avenue
4th Floor
La Jolla, CA 92037

Firm Stats

Chief Executive Officer: Max Hong
Chief Financial Officer: Dan Surette
Chief Operating Officer: Ryan Werffeli
2023 Employees (All Locations): 84

Major Office Locations

La Jolla, CA
New York, NY