It’s my understanding that LEK is a better LS shop than ZS. But in terms of interesting projects - which firm has more exciting/cool projects? (leaving this very subjecting on purpose)

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I’m not sure I’d characterize LEK as “better” than ZS - I’ve seen solid work and smart people from both firms, and I don’t think there’s a large compensation gap between the two (could be wrong). I believe DD’s comprise a larger percentage of LEK’s work than ZS’s. ZS also does a lot more market research / insights projects. Having worked on both, I find the latter much more interesting and enjoyable. If you’re looking for upstream / ceo-level advisory, you will probably find that most heavily represented at McK/BCG. Try to avoid getting hung up on rankings or better/worse type perspectives - focus on finding the type of work you find most interesting.

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Mostly agree, but can offer a couple data points:

DDs are 25-30% of LS at LEK (higher in other sectors) and <5% at ZS

Compensation gap is actually pretty sizable - at the post-PhD level, my total comp is at least 33% higher at LEK vs ZS

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I was at ZS and jumped to LEK - ZS is solid, but for me (PhD looking to go to VC), LEK is better in almost every respect… I’ll try to answer in an unbiased way.

Most of my LEK projects have involved c-suite (or semi-equivalent if working with IB or PE) exposure and were pretty high impact, e.g. helping to buy/sell $1B+ company or asset. I would not say the same about any ZS project I worked on - honestly have no idea what happened with our outputs. I’m sure ZS does some big stuff, but “blockbuster M&A strategy” or similarly “cool” projects are a much smaller % of the biz at ZS vs LEK.

Since this is the LS consulting bowl, you could also think of project work in terms of the drug dev process - LEK focuses TA strategic planning through Ph2 and ZS focuses on Ph3 to launch and beyond. In other words, LEK is more in the weeds on (“cool”) science…whereas at ZS the scientific cake is more or less baked and you’re trying to get it into the hands of customers (in line with ZS DNA as a sales/marketing firm). Both are necessary but different pieces of the puzzle of getting a drug to market.

Specific (but representative) project examples from my experience: at LEK I worked on big pharma global hematology M&A (expected ~$1-2B total deal size), vs at ZS I worked on medical affairs reorg for the NAMR oncology unit of a mid-sized med device company

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LEK1 - At what ZS level did you exit? Which level/s would you recommend to apply to at lek ?

LEK

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Thing I’d consider “cool” - c-suite exposure, high impact/visibility projects, blockbuster M&A strategy projects

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Agree with ZS1, I think it’s no news that ZS mainly works with Portfolio / BU-level leadership vs. C-Suite.

There is a growing amount of work in S&T but I don’t think it’s going to be significant vs. LEK (or McK / BCG) - that being said, variety of work across LS is much more at ZS

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"COOL" work is way too subjective.

If optimizing for more Corp/ BU strategy, better pay, branding... LEK wins

If optimizing for wlb (traditional ZS space only), focus more on account building / team building (on and offshore) / revenue management, cannot stand DD work...ZS

ZS does interesting BU / commercial strategy work, but at that point better to just go to LEK since wlb will be same as LEK for a lower pay.

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