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Does anyone work for a management consultancy?

(16 Posts)
civilfawlty Sat 29-Dec-12 19:14:42


I'm just about to go back after mat leave to a fairly senior policy post at a central government department.

I'm not thrilled at the prospect, because I disagree so fundamentally with this administration. I feel like if I am going to work on this kind of agenda, id like to be properly paid. It seems my skills an interests - innovative policy solutions, rapid assessment of complex problems, short projects - would transfer well to a management consultancy and that the work would be challenging and exciting.

But - I've no idea what it would be like to work for a consultancy. I'd love to hear from anyone who is or has worked for one. What is the pace like, the hours, is it compatible with family life? What kind of projects have you worked on? Have you been happy?

Thank you.

Karbea Mon 31-Dec-12 16:39:26

I used to when I first graduated. Basically sign your soul to them, full commitment mon-fri, late nights, staying away from home etc.

I don't have children but as a married woman, I would never do it again. Great experience as a grad though.

whois Sat 05-Jan-13 22:02:30

My DP used to. As poster above said, you sell your soul.

MC means week days away from home in the UK, and weeks/months away abroad if you are unlucky. The hours are very long and the pressure is high. The salary is not amazing when take into account the hours. It can be very lucrative if you don't bother getting anywhere to rent of your own but that isn't an option with a family.

The upside is you get masses of amazing experience and skills and can progress quickly.

Unless you have already been working at a super high level I wouldn't recommend MC.

saffronwblue Sat 05-Jan-13 22:10:43

I do. I am questioning whether I can continue to manage it with DC 11 and 14. The work includes long hours, travel, huge pressure to make targets, unrealistic promises to clients and competition between colleagues as to who gets the sales credits. I work for an American multinational and there are regular rounds of savage restructuring and redundancies.
As I came to this late, my colleagues are young 30 somethings who don't have children and can spend evenings drinking and/or going to the gym as well as working late.
The work is challenging and uses parts of my brain that had lain dormant and that is what keeps me going.

MrsLatcher Sat 05-Jan-13 22:22:43

I went in the other direction to you - I was a consultant in one of the big firms and although I loved the work previous posters are right to talk about the fact that it is not that compatible with a young family. I worked away from home for over a year (before had kids) but there were women I worked with who only saw their kids on weekends.
I think it would be very hard to go in once you've had kids as succeeding there is all about putting in hours and hours of work plus socialising and networking to get ahead.
That said smaller firms specialising in certain
Policy areas might be better.
I am now a civil servant and hate it for same reasons you mention, but get to work flexibly, leave on time and never get sent away from home.
If I was child free would be running back to consulting as fast ad I could for the work, the challenge, the fun and the buzz but sadly will stick with civil service out of necessity.

notcitrus Sat 05-Jan-13 22:45:16

I'm also a civil servant wondering the same thing - while general mc wouldn't be compatible with family etc, there's various mc and other consultancy firms who keep being given policy analysis contracts rather than getting existing civil servants to do the work, so I'm figuring out if it would be feasible to join one of them soon after returning from mat leave.
Anyone else gone from civil service to.consultancy? What precisely do they look for?

TravelinColour Sat 05-Jan-13 22:46:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MizZan Sun 06-Jan-13 01:45:24

Have also worked in both large MC firm and smaller consultancy which competes with the big guys. I can only echo what others have said here which is that it's completely incompatible with family life, which is why most women leave once they have kids (or before). If you have a stay-at-home spouse and don't mind seeing your kids infrequently then maybe. But otherwise you will find the pay (bearing in mind hours you actually have to work and travel, and that only partners really see serious pay packets and those are very much tied to how much you sell), flexibility and benefits are all far better in senior civil service posts, and the pressure far lower. I agree that it can be interesting and challenging from an intellectual point of view but it's not a good lifestyle with a young family.

KiteyDelighty Sun 06-Jan-13 16:37:37

Another option could be freelancing or working as an associate of a consultancy?

civilfawlty Sun 06-Jan-13 18:50:06

Gosh - thanks for all the messages. The points about work/life balance and so forth are taken on board.

Interested in the freelance/ associate options. Has anyone done this? Assume I'd need an 'in'?

KiteyDelighty Mon 07-Jan-13 03:00:37

I am freelancing although not specifically your field and occasionally MCs have advertised for associate roles to help them meet specific client commitments but I haven't needed to explore them in more detail as I am busy enough in my own right. Do you know the main MCs that specialise in your field? Do you have any of these in your network / linkedin? Perhaps sound them out informally?

NettletonMummy Mon 07-Jan-13 04:17:33

I moved from MC after dd1 was born for lots of reasons, including work-life balance. My new job pays nearly 50% more salary, and is 9-5 with limited travelling, whereas MC was endless hours and constant travel. We had to have a nanny as my hours were so unpredictable, which was v. Expensive.

Independent consultants are employed where I work and they get very good rates - 350 to 1000 a day depending on experience and role. Most come through specialist recruitment agencies. Very lucrative, but short term and unpredictable earnings, so I'd rather have a regular job.

orangetickle Wed 16-Jan-13 04:09:45

DH does. Very long days, at least a half day every weekend, often away all week and I can't remember the last holiday when he didn't claim back some annual leave since he spent some of it working. But he loves the challenges and stimulation, is very well looked after when travelling (BC flights, top hotels and restaurants) and obviously earns a fair amount..

There's one female partner in his team which says a lot..

However there's no way both of us could have jobs like that and have a family and it's severely curtailed my prospects. So you need an extremely supportive spouse.

kilburnfrenchie Fri 18-Jan-13 13:12:13

I do- and am 14 weeks pregnant with first child. I work for a smaller boutique/ independant type outfit, and I plan to stay there and make it work- I love my job, and the variety and challenge and autonomy- have been working from home in my pj's all morning and that is perfectly ok! I have a several of female colleauges who are older more senior than me and have kids and work. They do a variety of things from 4 days a week to taking school holidays off- they are stressed busy and feel guilty- but i don't think any more so than working mums in any other field. My work typically could entail 1-3 days travel a week- but not every week, usually planned a few weeks in advance and never being shipped out monday- thursday for months on end: thats more of a big 4 type of thing. In terms of hours- i typically do 10 ish hours a day- but can do lots of it from home - so my plan post mat leave is to leave a bit earlier and do some work in the evening after bed bath time. The travel thing will be a challenge and i think we might need live in help (hubby job also quite demanding) - but I think I would go mentalist and be a horrible resentful person if i was a SAHM- so i am quite determined to try to make it work.
i would steer clear of the big 4 at all costs for all the reasons others have cited above- it's just horrible, competitive, long hours, insane travel, very macho, bad money unless you are a partner- and lets face it if you are a woman with children and they already have their token female partner the likelihood of you making partner is slim to none. (and you have to wear terribly dull conservative clothes to fit in- but that is just my little peeve!)

If you want out of the civil service and into consulting working somewhere smaller/ on an associate basis is a much more sensible option. Much less job security than being a civil servant though- and typically I've found that private sector is more demanding in terms of hours than CS ( although i think that statement becomes less true at more senior levels in the CS).
pm me if you want to hear more.

DewDr0p Wed 23-Jan-13 13:39:15

I used to be a management consultant and gave it up when I had children for all the reasons already outlined! There is absolutely no way I would go back to that lifestyle.

I think kilburnfrenchie is right though - a smaller outfit might be a better bet.

Tasmania Wed 23-Jan-13 23:51:57

A few years ago, a friend was working for one of the big MC firms. She barely left work before 11pm, and when she left at 8/9pm, her colleagues would joke she didn't take her job seriously. I would avoid it at all costs if what you're looking for is a good work/life balance.

On holidays, we met a lovely lady from a Scandinavian country who used to be a civil servant (similar to what you describe), and she struck out on her own, becoming self-employed. Best thing she ever did. Apparently, she earns more, and works half the time, and has more time for her lovely dd.

However, I do believe that the country she's from is further ahead in the working from home / working freelance stuff than the UK.

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