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The Three Most Surprising Things about the Top, Boutique Consulting Firms

boutique consulting

Working with a boutique consulting firm can have plenty of perks: a close-knit group of colleagues, individual attention from your superiors to measure the quality of your work, and a united company culture.

While some may lack the instant name recognition of their larger counterparts, for many employees at these firms, these boutique companies more than pull their weight in the industry and are quickly gaining recognition despite their size. To learn more about these top, boutique firms from the inside out, Ivy Exec asked employees of our top ranked, boutique consulting firms to tell us about their experiences. With honest, anonymous feedback, we learned several surprising details about these companies.

Vynamic – Ivy Exec’s #1 Ranked Boutique Consulting Firm

Surprise: Work for your health. 

At Philadelphia-based healthcare management consulting firm Vynamic, the corporate culture practices what it preaches with healthy lifestyle initiatives encouraged for all of its 98 employees. Employees can easily focus on their wellness and fitness while working: “Sit-to-stand desks and treadmill desks are available throughout the office. We get reimbursed for things like Fitbits and have Fitbit challenges to encourage active lifestyles,” a current manager at Vynamic tells Ivy Exec.

But above and beyond the in-office perks, the company encourages a healthy work-life balance that allows employees to choose how much they travel—often a pain point for many consultants. Even more unusual, the company has a “zzz-mail” policy that bans emails after 10pm and weekends.
Even Vynamic’s gender balance in the workplace is healthy: “Over half the consulting workforce is women and a program called Women at Vynamic (WAV) supports women’s leadership,” a current manager tells us.

Another current manager emphasizes Vynamic’s industry-leading parental leave policy that grants workers up to 16-weeks away from their desks for a new birth or adoption.

As another manager at Vynamic sums it up: “This is the first company that I have worked at in my 10 years of consulting that truly puts its people (its largest asset!) first. We truly do grow for our people and not at the expense of our people.”

Marakon – Ivy Exec’s #2 Ranked Boutique Consulting Firm

Surprise: Even the boss gets to work on the nitty-gritty.

At Marakon, it’s clear that the company culture prizes its small, 150-employee workplace. Current employees use words like “intimate”, “intellectual” and “academic” to describe the small, strategy-focused work environment. Many also credit their time with the firm to being a valuable learning experience.

While several employees acknowledge that the firm may not be as popular or well-known because of its size, they note that the important people in the industry are very aware of and impressed with Marakon’s reputation.

One particular benefit of Marakon’s size, as one current associate/consultant tells us, it is surprising and impressive that the leadership team is dedicated to doing the actual work themselves: “The leadership team is rare in that it is clear they enjoy project delivery as much as they enjoy business development. At my previous firm, partners were rarely seen contributing to analyses or project architecture beyond a few comments here and there. At Marakon, they are truly grinding it out next to you — which is a great opportunity to learn from the best.”

Also see #3 Ranked Boutique Consulting Firm: Analysis Group.

ClearView Healthcare Partners – Ivy Exec’s #3 Ranked Boutique Consulting Firm

Surprise: Put that PhD to good use. 

This Newton, Massachusetts based life sciences consulting firm gives its 70 employees—many of whom come from the academic world—the opportunity to have real impact in their field.

“In my relatively short time at ClearView, I have had far more impact on advancing medical breakthroughs than I did in during my PhD in a prestigious translational lab,” one current associate/consultant tells Ivy Exec. “Right now, I am looking at a brand new drug and determining which of a dozen diseases is most likely to be treated with the novel therapy. The results of the project will inform what patients are enrolled in a clinical trial. This is the kind of work I hoped to be doing when I signed up for a translational medicine PhD.”

In addition to the rewarding and impactful work available to PhDs at ClearView, another current associate/consultant praises the base salary as being particularly “lucrative” for PhD students coming out of graduate school. As a result, ClearView makes a compelling option for academics looking to bring their expertise and intellect into the business world.

“ClearView as a whole is a very positive place to work, particularly for energetic, enthusiastic, driven individuals,” a current senior associate/consultant tells us. “The company emphasizes mentorship and training, which offers unparalleled opportunities for smart, young undergraduates and PhD graduates looking to transition from a scientific background into a business career.”

But with so many driven academics in the building, it might seem that ClearView is a serious place where letting loose is not encouraged. On the contrary: employees tell us that the company offers frequent picnics, happy hours and other team bonding events. Every Friday, work ends at 4pm so that the company can come together over a beer.

As one current analyst at ClearView puts it best by quoting Ernest Hemingway: “’Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know’—But you have never seen a happier group individuals who hold so much sway with multibillion dollar companies.”

About the Author

R. Kress is an Emmy Award winning journalist whose reporting and writing has appeared in national media from NBC News to the International Herald Tribune. She has covered news from cities around the world including Jerusalem, Krakow, Amman and Mumbai.