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!