If you are interested in social impact consulting or consulting for NGOs or governments, Abt Associates may be a good firm to add to your list. Specifically, Abt Associates is a consulting and research firm that aims to improve the livelihood of individuals and equity worldwide. In fact, Abt Associates’ mission is to: “improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide” (read more here). This article provides an overview of Abt Associates and what a career there may look like.
Table of Contents
- Abt Associates Key Stats
- Abt Associates History
- Abt Associates Careers
- Abt Associates Internship
- Practice Areas
- Office Locations
- Career Path
- Exit Opportunities
- Notable Alumni
- Target Schools
- Diversity Programs
- Abt Associates Culture
- Abt Associates Interview
- Abt Associates Salary
Abt Associates Key Stats
Abt Associates Website: https://www.abtassociates.com/
Abt Associates Headquarters: Rockville, Maryland
Abt Associates Number of Employees: Over 3,600
Abt Associates Number of Locations: 12 locations worldwide
Abt Associates Chief Executive: Kathleen Flanagan
Abt Associates Revenue: ~$400M
Abt Associates History
For those of you who have been wondering: “what does Abt mean?” – we’ve got the answer for you! In 1965, Clark Abt, from whom the company gets its name, founded Abt Associates in Cambridge, MA. His goal was to head a company that would provide creative solutions to the most difficult social issues of the day and to raise the quality of life for those who were most disadvantaged. Some of the first contracts the firm won, including education and national security, demonstrate how quickly the firm became a player in the space.
In 1967, Abt Associates won its first contract with NASA, which would eventually turn into a long-term relationship. Their early work with the space agency was focused on using NASA technology in urban construction, science and technology as a tool to positively affect social and economic change.
1968 was an important year for Abt. It opened its DC area office to service federal clients more effectively, successfully carried out an extensive piece of policy research for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and pioneered the use of social science methodologies, like case studies and cost-benefit analyses, as an aid to federal agencies seeking to understand and overcome difficult social challenges.
In addition, the firm started a job corps at HQ, providing single mothers working at the on-site day center with training in childcare, social work and computer programming. Abt Associates also conducted the first social audit. A brainchild of the founder himself, the social audit was a tool to measure how much the work being done was adding to quality of life, both for the communities the firm touched as well as its own employees.
By the time ABT Associates turned 10 years old, it was the largest private social science research firm in the U.S. and boasted 447 employees. However, as Reganomics took hold in 1981 and federal research budgets were cut drastically, Abt responded by diversifying its client base and working with commercial entities.
1986 saw the main man, Clark Abt, retire from his executive role to take a place on the board. Chief Scientist Walter Stellwagen took his place. In the years that followed, Abt’s client base diversified even more both in terms of social research and commercial clients.
Abt Associates continued to win significant contracts. Some examples include nationwide HIV prevention trials and the “ZdravReform” project of 1994, which was designed to strengthen the health systems of newly independent states such as Russia and Belarus.
For the next decade, Abt enjoyed sustained growth as it solidified its already glowing reputation in both the research and commercial worlds. In 2007, Abt bought the NYC-based research firm SRBI, combining two market leaders.
Recently, Abt has shown no signs of slowing down. In 2009, the UK Department for International Development awarded Abt $200M+ to strengthen Nigeria’s health system, the largest contract in the Company’s history. In 2013, Abt bought JTA International, a health and social sector consulting firm in Australia, giving the firm a presence in the Asia-Pacific region and strengthening the depth of their knowledge in international health and development.
Abt Associates Careers
Abt Associates careers offer a wide breadth of opportunity. Specifically, if you want your work to have more meaning, working with non-profits adn NGOs may scratch that itch. For many, it helps them put in the long hours and get out of bed every morning when they really feel like their efforts are going toward a worthy cause beyond themselves. Working at Abt Associates may give you that opportunity.
Abt Associates Internship
The Abt Associates internship is focused on developing interns professionally by teaching them how to leverage data to drive insight and impact and by teaching them the basics of research. Interns also have the ability to work with senior leadership at Abt Associates.
Abt Associates’ practice areas map to its overall social impact focus. Areas of expertise include:
- Economic growth
- Education, youth, and families
- Energy, climate, and environment
Abt Associates industries are widespread which speaks to Abt Associates’ broad mission to improve individuals’ quality of life. For example, clients include:
- Federal governments
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Media companies
Abt Associates has offices globally including in:
- Atlanta, US
- Boulder, US
- Brisbane, Australia
- Cambridge, MA
- London, UK
- NYC, US
- Rockville, MD
While the long-term career paths for Abt Associates are not clearly laid out, you can likely expect upward mobility consistent with any consulting firm.
Given the niche nature of the work at Abt Associates, you can expect exit opportunities to be within the social impact space. For example, working with leading NGOs, in impact investing, or with other non-profit consulting companies. If you are excited about opportunities within this sector, Abt Associates may be a great match for you. However, if you are looking to exit to a Fortune 500 company or a VC-backed startup, it may make more sense to focus on applying to a “generalist” consulting firm (e.g., Deloitte, Oliver Wyman, McKinsey, Bain, BCG).
Abt Associates does not disclose its alumni.
Based on the ~1,600 Abt Associates employees that live in the US on LinkedIn, Abt Associates target schools include:
- University of Maryland (~50 students)
- The George Washington University (~35 students)
- American University (~30 students)
- Johns Hopkins (~30 students)
- Harvard (~30 students)
- Boston University (~25 students)
- University of North Carolina (~25 students)
Abt Associates’ diversity programs include several employee networking groups. Example employee networking groups are:
- Blacks at Abt
- Disability Working Group
- Gender Equality and Non-Violence Working Group
- LGBTIQ+ Working Group
- Racial Equity Working Group
Abt Associates Culture
Abt Associates has 3.8 stars on Glassdoor. Generally, the positive feedback centered around the amiability of the employees, work life balance, and the employees’ drive. The drive is supported by Abt Associates’ interesting and mission driven work. On the other hand, some reviewers had poor experiences with management and noted that the salaries are lower than industry averages.
Abt Associates Interview
Per Glassdoor, the Abt Associates interview process is generally fit-based, and you can expect standard questions like:
- Why do you want to work at Abt Associates?
- What do you want to do in 5 years? 10 years?
- Why do you want to do social impact-type work?
However, for any interview, it is always best practice to confirm with the recruiter what the interview will consist of (e.g., fit or case).
Abt Associates Salary
Per Glassdoor, Abt Associates’ salaries of common positions are:
- Research analyst: ~$75-80K
- Senior research analyst: ~$100-115K
- Director: $200-250K
As you can see, you’ll find the entry level salary at Abt Associates to be a little less than it’s MBB counterparts. To see our full salaries report of hundreds of consulting firm salaries, click here.
Therefore, Abt Associates has a rich history and was originally in the 1960s with the goal of doing business to better the world. Abt recruits from a host of universities, notably several of the DC-area universities (University of Maryland, GW, and American University). If you are interested in using consulting as a means to build out your broad business toolkit, Abt Associates may not be for you. However, if you have a passion for social impact and see yourself working in the space in the long-run, Abt Associates may be an interesting place to work. Abt Associate works across industries and example areas of focus include economic development and education.
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