I want to become a product manager. The alternative to joining the top tier consulting firm is to create my own startup or to find a PM role at a growing startup which will want to work with me despite the fact that I come from a biz dev background.
Joining a top tier consultancy will not help you become a great PM. Full-stop. Yammer has one of the best product management groups and although some of their PM's have left (since the Microsoft acquisition), they still have a great group there. Some of Yammer's best PM's started out in different non-product roles.
There might be some junior roles there that get you on the right track. There are a number of great established product teams that are always eager to add team members who are hard-working, passionate and eager to learn.
Happy to talk to you in a call to point you in some specific directions but joining a great product team that actually *owns* the product is way more instructive and a better career path than a top tier consultancy.
There are a few things to think about before joining the top tier consultancy. First, hopefully the consultancy will put you in front of many customers, so that you can notice their similarities and differences, how they work, what drives them, and so on. This can help you when you are a PM. But if you get pigeon-holed into just one customer for many years (which happens all the time), then you won't benefit in the same way.
Second, the consultancy may pay you very well -- so well that you have "golden handcuffs" tying you to the company. This may be the end of you, though it might be pleasant for a while.
Third, of course having the name-brand company on your resume will open some doors, though it will still be up to you to impress when you walk through those doors.
Could you do just as well in a startup? Nobody can answer that for sure. Both paths have their own risks and rewards.
One way to decide is to follow this saying: Think for today with your head. Think for tomorrow with your heart. What this means is that you should follow your heart into the far future, but it is your head that decides what you should be doing in your near future. Heart being what you love. Head being what makes sense. Very often, what makes sense isn't what you love, which is why so many people become dentists or doctors or lawyers, but then wish they hadn't (of course, many do indeed love those professions, but many started in them because it was the "safe" choice). -- Dan
There is no right career path to becoming a product manager. If you are passionate about it, you will get there. I was a Software Engineer and wanted to become a Product Manager. I joined doodle.com, back then still an early stage startup. I was free to shape my role. I read a book called "Inspired: How to build Products, customers love". http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0981690408This was the best book on PM I ever read. I truly inspired me.
So my advice: join a startup or create your own. Don't join a consulting firm.
I agree with Tom Williams answer. Joining a top-tier consultancy will make you a better analyst and possibly communicator, maybe even think more "strategically". But it won't teach you anything about how to create a product roadmap, how to work with engineers, how to launch a product to market, how to empower marketing and sales, how to prioritize a product backlog, or write requirements, all of which are core elements of any product manager job.