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Overview

Introduction

The Keystone Group is a management consulting firm that works with mid-market manufacturing and distribution clients. The firm has four main areas of consulting expertise they provide to clients: profitable growth strategy, operational improvement, restructuring and turnaround and mergers and acquisitions. Keystone consultants come from diverse backgrounds, including banking, C-level executive positions, Fortune 100 operations management and private equity, to name a few. As a result, the Keystone team is able to support clients t...

Company Stats


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Employer Type


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Size


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Featured Rankings

Vault Consulting 50...


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Major Departments/Practice Areas

Profit and Cash Flow Improvement...


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Major Office Locations

Chicago, IL (Headquarters)...


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Employment Contact

Jim Spencer - Human Resources Director...

Firsthand Findings

It’s not often that we hear the phrase “family-like” to describe a consultancy’s culture, but that’s how the employees at The Keystone Group refer to their firm year after year. Everybody at this firm seems to get along with one another, having developed a strong, firm-wide sense of mutual respect, admiration, and cooperation that also extends to their client relationships.

Insiders at The Keystone Group praise the development and educational opportunities to which their firm’s culture naturally lends itself; the responsibility given to every employee from Day One, they say, is unparalleled. Analysts own their own work streams from the very beginning and lead their own initiatives, with one respondent noting that entry-level and mid-level consultants lead many of...

About the Company

Founded in 1991, The Keystone Group is a management consulting firm that works with mid-market manufacturing and distribution clients. The firm is based in Chicago, with another office in Atlanta.

Manufacturing Profit

Keystone operates in four main areas: profit and cash flow improvement, mergers and acquisition integration, profitable growth strategy, and operations improvement. Most of Keystone’s clients are in the manufacturing and distribution sphere, in industries as varied as consumer products to automotive to printing to software, and everything in between. This tight focus allows Keystone to provide significant experience to their clients’ toughest business challenges.

Experience with Support

The Keystone group pl...

Employee Reviews


  • “At Keystone, you will not be "another face in the crowd" and you will not be handled with kid gloves. We have an unbelievably supportive group of people that will foster your growth and development at the fastest pace you're able to handle. We are not in the business of needlessly billing our clients and our firm culture immediately rejects anyone who treats clients in that manner. We are in the business of working closely with our clients to solve their biggest business challenges...and have fun doing it.”
  • “For the right candidate possessing deep and real intellectual curiosity and a true desire to make a difference, we represent a unique opportunity to join a small team of highly motivated professionals who work side-by-side to add significant value to clients who are looking to grow their top line both organically and inorganically, drive operational efficiencies, improve margins and general profitability, or to successfully address critical liquidity or broader financial challenges (turnaround/restructuring).”
  • “We do our best to provide you with a clear understanding of who we are throughout the recruiting process. Please get to know us, and ask the tough questions! We'll do our best to help you assess whether we're the right place for you.”
  • “Our culture is truly unique. Aside from having the best and brightest talent in the industry our people are interesting and fun to be around. There isn't anyone at the firm I don't like being around.”
  • “Our firm's culture is unmatched. From the level of transparency regarding firm outlook to our commitment to "making a difference" both at the client and in the community to the unique culture that's been carefully cultivated, Keystone feels like home from the first day you join. Given our size, the small project teams and interactions with executives at the client mean heightened responsibility, autonomy, and growth opportunities. Keystone lives its guiding principles: Best the Best, Grow Your Skills Faster than Anywhere Else, Attain Financial Success, and Have Fun!”
  • “I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself with someone that you want to be more like. My colleagues are brilliant, thoughtful, kind, and passionate. They want to make a difference in the lives of our clients and our communities. They do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. They express appreciation when I work hard, and they push me when I need it. They are genuinely good people, and I learn from them every day.”
  • “Hours are very reasonable for consulting and management often checks in to make sure you are not burnt-out. Travel is frequent, but expectations are communicated clearly during the recruiting process. It is very easy to take time off - either a long weekend or extended vacation.”
  • “I have never been told I couldn't take a specific day I requested off, no matter how busy the client. Travel requirements are typical of most consultants (Monday - Thursday) but lately I've found leadership is more flexible in that (three days a week, one week on one week off, etc.) in order to provide a sustainable lifestyle for teams.”
  • “The team at Keystone is very easy to work with - many times all that you need is to request what you want. Accrued vacation time can even go negative, so you don't have to wait until you have accrued the time needed to take a vacation when it works for your timing and life.”
  • “Keystone holds health and wellness in very high regard. We have an annual Keystone Fitness Challenge, which almost everyone participates in, which includes daily health challenges to provide points for your team. Keystone also holds weekly Friday morning workouts with a personal trainer, which we refer to as Keystone Friday Workouts. The firm is very encouraging of healthy behaviors and most members of the firm actively pursue maintaining positive health and wellness habits.”
  • “During quarantine, the firm has provided for an online yoga class on a biweekly basis. During normal travel, we do a group fitness class on Fridays before going into the office. Additionally, some of our quarantine Atlanta office get togethers have been park gatherings”
  • “The firm is very accommodating to vacation time. I feel we receive an adequate amount of vacation time every year and are encouraged to use it. Colleagues are also understanding of when others are using vacation time and willingly help others to allow them to have as much of a true vacation as possible.”

  • “Salary at Keystone is very competitive, and improves significantly at senior levels. One of the best perks is the ability to become an equity owner in the firm and receive substantial quarterly profit distributions that significantly exceed market returns.”
  • “The base compensation at Keystone is competitive at the Principle level and below. Above this level base compensation may be on the lower end, however the firm offers an attractive variable compensation structure for these employees.”
  • “The benefits provided are a major selling point. The firm boasts a generous maternity/paternity policy, a sabbatical away once every seven years of service, and comprehensive medical coverage at minimal cost to employees (based on selected coverage). The 401K contribution comes free, with no contribution required from the employee. We track the firm's progress to budget at our company meetings each month, so it is easy to see how profit sharing and bonuses are being planned for year-end. The company also supports training and development by sponsoring attendance at workshops, providing free subscriptions to news outlets or magazines, and paying for memberships to different industry organizations. My only complaint is that the firm is slow to adjust compensation as the market changes. While we receive an annual raise for cost of living, career progression, or change of position, it may be several years between when we benchmark salaries against others in the industry.”
  • “The best aspect of the Keystone's compensation package is the aim to contribute 5% of your total salary (base + bonuses) to your 401(k) plan regardless of your contributions. The worst aspect of Keystone's compensation plan is having no bonus in place to reward individual performance.”
  • “Compensation is 100% transparent, no one is paid differently for the same role / number of years with the firm. Salary is extremely generous, and performance bonus is based on performance of the entire firm to budget, which is reviewed each month. Target bonus is 10% of salary, which is received if the firm hits its overall budget.”
  • “Keystone offers a generous and fair compensation package for its employees. All employees receive a profit-sharing bonus if we hit budget as a firm, and also contributes 5% of our salary to our 401k regardless of our own contributions. While entry-level salaries are slightly lower than competing firms, the salary progression picks up very quickly. Promotions tend to happen frequently at Keystone and the salaries accompanying the promotions also increase at a higher rate than average. So while entry-level salaries may start slightly lower, they tend to increase faster than average.”
  • “The firm's career development opportunities continue to adapt and change as the smaller company learns processes and standardization techniques. From day one, young consultants have a significant amount of the responsibility and interaction with upper management at our clients.”
  • “The firm's development opportunities are very informal; however, the firm is working to improve / document development processes. As processes are not formalized the development can strongly depend upon which partner has been designated as your mentor. Training is growing and becoming more diverse. The training modules that do exist are extensive and related to real project cases.”
  • "The internal review process is clear and transparent throughout the company. It is often said that when promotions are announced, they come as a surprise to no one at the firm because it is clear when each individual is ready to take the next step. Keystone is devoted to growth and development of every individual. I truly feel each person on the leadership team is dedicated to my personal advancement. This comes not only through the formal coaching/mentoring and training programs, but also through the on-the-job opportunities and feedback. All formal training modules are developed in house and are based on true client experiences. The modules are updated regularly, ensuring the focus is on the most important topics with none of the fluff…”
  • “The Keystone Group has an extensive formal and informal training programming. There are a ton of different formal training modules to work through that simulate client interaction and help prepare you for future project work. Leadership completes the promotion process very objectively, and wants everyone to succeed and develop both personally and professionally. The Keystone Group has implemented diversity and inclusion efforts to help diversify the firm. The women's group meets monthly and helps build community within the women at the firm.”
  • “One of Keystone's principles is to be a place where you can grow your skills faster than anywhere else, and I think we really walk the walk. The level of responsibility at all levels is incredibly high, and transparent feedback is a priority. Because of the size of the firm, you have tons of interactions with incredibly experienced business leaders and are expected to lead immediately. I would say the one area that Keystone could improve is the formal training side, where we are limited on resources to update and give highly structured instruction.”
  • “Our firm does exceptionally well combining on-the-job training with classroom training across industries and areas of expertise. In addition, the firm has a structured coaching and mentoring protocol that is closely adhered to.”
  • “Our firm actively recognizes the need to achieve greater diversity. While we have striven for diversity in years past, we have recently made it a priority to engage underrepresented people.”
  • “Our firm does an exceptional job of providing feedback with a regular and consistent review process. This process is objective relative to sex, and allows equal opportunity for recognition and advancement.”
  • “The firm is highly receptive to diversity, but effectiveness may be lacking. KNOW (The Keystone Network of Women) works to promote women in the workplace, but the current makeup of leaders shows under-representation of women; similar sentiments for minorities, veterans, etc. The firm often has deliberate discussions about promoting diversity and seeks to be part of the solution, but results are currently limited.”
  • “Even as a smaller firm we are actively looking for ways to reach a more diverse student base through our recruiting process and eliminate unconscious bias from our resume screening and interviewing process.”
  • “I have the utmost confidence that men and women are given the same opportunities. The recruiting team is very focused on enhancing outreach to diversity groups/candidates, as well as bolstering retention efforts. There is also a women's group within the firm that meets monthly and provides a solid support network.”
  • “Keystone needs to be more proactive in increasing the diversity pool of candidates. We have made strides to do so in the short term which will improve our hiring process.”
  • “In the middle of COVID-19, we are flourishing. We have a mix of turnaround/distressed work and M&A work that balances our services in good times and bad. People work across all of our service lines for flexibility and quality of life/job growth.”
  • “Keystone is well positioned to assist companies struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic because of our expertise in restructuring & turnaround and operational improvement. We are also positioned to assist companies in better financial positions with our growth strategy and M&A practices. The combination of these offerings makes me confident in Keystone's outlook in the next 12 months.”
  • “Keystone maintains a strong business outlook especially given the current impact of COVID-19. The firm had the best-ever financial results in the first quarter of this year and looks to settle into its budget for the next several months, even with the slowdown in the manufacturing and distribution industry.”
  • “Our firm has a strong business outlook for the year and we have had no shortage of work to do. Our firm's business model is positioned to perform well in either a favorable or unfavorable business market thanks to our complementary service lines of Turnaround and M&A Integration. We are actively prepared for an economic downturn and ready to help struggling companies manage cash flow and improve their operations in times of crisis.”
  • “Our firm is well positioned for success given our four balanced service lines that tend to do well is both strong and weak economies. We recently announced that we are opening a new office in LA earlier this year. Although our firm is small, I am very confident in our abilities and our leadership team. We are not as innovative and don't have the same resources as some other firms, but our leadership team is very open to hearing our ideas and trying out new ideas. Our firm has handled COVID-19 very well and has adapted well through virtual happy hours, Friday virtual lunches, etc. We have had 2 new people start that went flawlessly and we have already reached out to our summer interns and fall full-time starts to let them know we are excited for them to start (no changes to start date or offer status).”
  • “Leadership shares the strategic plan for the firm every year. I am very excited at our prospects of expanding regionally, expanding service lines, and taking equity positions in companies we work with. This year we have begun the process to build a new office in California and invested in a couple of our clients. We are well positioned to grow in the years to come and have an excellent team to make this desired growth a reality.”
  • “The firm is well positioned to increase the number of turnaround projects with the ongoing Covid-19 situation. Employee morale is good, and the leadership has frequently communicated that our jobs are secure.”

Getting Hired Here


  • “Our recruiting process has three stages. Each is part behavioral and part case. Our ideal candidate is intellectually curious, has good analytical horsepower, and the desire to make an impact.”
  • “Typically three rounds of interviews. First is a short behavioral interview with a mid-level employee at Keystone. If invited, second round is a full case study and behavioral interview with two partners at the firm. Final round interviews are in the Chicago office, and there is a full day of lunches, interviews, and informal events to meet members at Keystone. Interview process is very challenging and a small percentage of applicants receive offers. Ideal candidate is one who is looking to work at smaller firm, fits-in with firm culture, is intellectually curious, and humble.”
  • “We are seeking candidates who are analytically capable and intellectually curious, but also have a bias towards action. Keystone is built on a self-starter, do-it-yourself culture where individuals take ownership for their own growth and development early on in their career. Growth at Keystone is not a passive development - it's an active engagement.”
  • “We have a very informal, but highly selective recruiting process. We look for people who are intellectual, mature, and have a positive attitude. Not only do candidates have to be strong communicators and possess high analytical capabilities, but they have to fit in with our firm's culture.”
  • “Our firm general has an initial phone/coffee chat screen, followed by two rounds of interviewing. The ideal candidate is someone with great analytical and problem solving skills, who is also looking to make a large impact from the start. We want a candidate who values our unique small firm culture, and wants to build lasting relationships with colleagues.”
  • “We focus on behavioral interviews with one in depth case questions. The case is less focused on what data you will need but the process of how the candidate thinks and prepare the information.”
  • “We provide interviewees with a set of data and ask them to gather insights, draw conclusions, and present recommendations to a senior member of Keystone. Another example is providing an interviewee with an operational flow chart and a business problem and ask them to uncover which process is the cause of the business problem.”
  • “We do a lot of "fit" interview since our business is first and foremost a people business. Our cases include actual data for a company (financials, management interview notes, etc.) and the candidates are asked to spend an hour reviewing the data, doing analysis, and then presenting their findings and recommendations to one of our Partners. Very hands-on, very "real", very effective!”
  • “The case question utilizes data and asks candidates to analyze year over year financial and operational data to make a recommendation on drivers on the company’s declining profitability.”
  • “Excel-based case where the students are asked to analyze a financial statement/sales data and then create a presentation. They then present that to one of our partners as if the student were the consultant and the partner was the client.”
  • “I interviewed at many firms and this was by far the best case for presenting the students with a true consulting-like case."
  • “Our firm's case question is different than what is typically asked. The case involves a one-hour period with the candidate using a computer to perform analysis and develop a short presentation on a prompt. The candidate the presents the case and answers questions through a conversation with a managing director. Our case is designed to mimic the work we perform on real projects and it is hard to prepare for. There are no ways to "study for the test" by practicing many cases or learning frameworks. The case provides a better measure of critical thinking and problem solving ability. We also perform many fit interviews that are at the discretion of the interviewer. I like to think of these interviews as the "delayed flight test" and walk away with an answer to the question, "Would I want to hang out with this person at the airport if we had a 3 hour delay?" Additionally, I ask questions to learn more about character, adaptability, and eagerness to learn.”

Perks & Benefits