Saturday, March 18, 2006

Relationships and management consulting

Last year the head of my company gave a moving speech to all the newly recruited analysts and associates. He wanted to make the point that being analytical and smart won't be enough in the future. He told the story of a team that had been complaining about the client project leader. They said he was inept and slowed down the whole project. They didn't know why he was so uncooperative and unmotivated. He went there to talk to some clients and find out what was going wrong. The response he got from the client employees was that everybody in the house knew that the project leader's child had had an accident and was in intensive care - except the consultants. The point he wanted to make was that we wouldn't get anywhere in this job if we couldn't connect to our clients and show interest and empathy to everybody we worked with. I think it is terrific that he wants to change company culture and make us focus more on personal relationships. On the other hand, I don't see how it is going to work.

If you want to be a management consultant, you need to accept sleeping away from home at least 3 nights per week, usually from Monday to at least Thursday. You are likely to work 14-16h per day and have no private life during the week. The type of people who are least likely to mind this lifestyle are those who suffer the least from lack of contact with friends and family. I am supposed to work when I have the flu, when it's my mother's birthday, I only get to see my cute nephew (see picture) a couple of hours on the weekend and I have to miss my boyfriend .... and then I'm supposed to care if my client's wife has depression or his child is ill? I just think there is an inherent contradiction here. Those people who really care about relationships and friendship cannot be happy in such a job and are likely to leave after a couple of years. I still think people who don't mind being away from family and friends 5 days a week for years are complete freaks. That's why I think consultants who've been in the job for a long time are unlikely to be compassionate about other people's personal problems, as they are insensitive even to their own.

That's why I'm very eager to change jobs post-MBA. I am afraid I might turn into more of a freak if I stay (and if not I'll be unhappy most of the time). Now it's only 3-4 more months of work, which is excellent. I've also started a new project now with much much nicer people than in my last two projects so I'm very happy and know that the weeks will fly by. Soon I will enjoy the admits weekend and then pack my bags and move to London!

5 comments:

Benny said...

Thanks!

I don´t know what will I do if I am accepted in LBS. It is a Europe x America dilemma.
Anyway, I will celebrate untill LBS decision and wonder about that if I am accepted.
:)

sghama said...

I totally agree - the traveling in consulting completely screws up your personal life. I was home 4 days a month for the past 2 months and my wife wasn't too crazy about that fact. The recent traveling schedule I've had has made me reconsider whether I want to go back to consulting after b-school. What are you planning on doing?

Surseine said...

I completely agree with you. I spent my first three years out of undergrad doing "technology risk consulting" for two of the big 5 (now 4) accounting firms. Three years ago, I finally got totally fed up - I was travelling nearly six days per week, working nights and weekends, etc ... and though the money and advancement were good, I decided it wasn't worth never seeing my husband and not having any life at home. I left to do IT consulting within one company. I work (generally speaking) 8-5, make very good money, still have room for some advancement, and have never, ever looked back. I have friends that have gone back into consulting, but usually, they only regret it. It's not the life for me!

(I started reading your blog thanks to the LBS e-newsletter that went out with LBS blog sites in it. I really enjoy your insite, and perhaps, if I end up at LBS (hopefully Fall 2007), we'll get to know each other.)

angie said...

Sghama, thanks for your comments. I'm aiming for a <12/day job without travel in London after business school, that's all I can say for the moment.

Surseine, that's exactly what I tend to find so incredible, there are pretty well paid jobs out there for much less work and travel, it just isn't worth it after a while...

Anonymous said...

IM NEW TO THIS SITE; BUT THOUGHT I'D ASK A QUESTION - IF YOU ALL COULD BE SO KIND TO GIVE A RESPONSE, IM HERE IN WISCONSIN WORKING FOR A PRESTIGOUS COMPANY - AND THIS YEAR THEY WERE HAVING THEIR BIG COMPANY ANNIVERSARY - FOR ALL THE EMPLOYEES ; STRESS ALL- THE EMPLOYEES- SO IN MAY THEY ANNOUNCED FOR THE SHOW - WE WOULD HAVE - THE BLUE MAN GROUP- JERRY SEINFELD & SHERYL CROW AS THE ENTERTAINMENT! - EVERYONE WAS EXCITED, AND PLANNED THEIR SUMMER AROUND THIS EVENT - HOWEVER SINCE THIS WAS A BIG LINEUP- THEY HAD A HUGE RESPONSE FROM THE 13K SALES REPS PLANNING ON ATTENDING - SO FOR US HOME EMPLOYEES - THEY SAID OUR TIX WERE NULL AND VOID - AND WOULD HAVE A LOTTERY FOR THE ALOTTMENT- AND ALAS WAS NOT ONE CHOSEN - THOUGH SEVERAL IN MY OFFICE WERE; THE SHOW WAS TUESDAY AND ALL THOSE WHO WENT HAVE BEEN GLOWING AND SMILING HOW GREAT THE SHOW WAS AND ARE ON A COMPLETE HIGH - US - WHO WERE NOT CHOSEN - HAVE BEEN THE EXACT OPPOSITE REACTION; ITS BEEN VERY DIFFICULT WORKING WITH CO - WORKERS WHO KEEP ON BEAMING " WASNT THAT A GREAT TIME! " MGT ONLY RESPONSE WAS "SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE" - NEXT MONTH THEY ARE HAVING A SMALL PICNIC FOR ALL EMPLOYEES- WHICH YEA IS NICE - BUT ARE TRYING TO OVERHYPE BECAUSE THEY KNOW THER REST OF US FEEL SO LEFT OUT FOR MISSING A ONCE IN A LIFETIME SHOW - I CANT STOP FEELING SO ROTTEN, AND DONT EVEN WANT TO TALK TO THOSE WHO WENT - PLUS WAS LOOKING FWD TO INTRODUCING A PRETTY FRIEND OF MINE IN A SOCIAL SETTING TO MY CO WORKERS, SINCE I'M KIND OF NEW..SHE DOES NOT WANT TO GOTO THE PICNIC - SO IM OUT IN SO MANY WAYS - CAN SOMEONE HERE PLEASE COUNSEL ME - I NEED HELP! JAMES