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How does this affect me?

#1 How does this affect me?
16/04/2002 00:00


Having been recruited on the basis of my skills and experience (3+ years) by a large management consultancy 10 months ago, I now find myself in the position of being 'counselled out' due to a 'skills mismatch'. This I find extremely arrogant and in line with what many of my colleagues told me at the time about this particular firm. No performance issues were identified - indeed, in my one and only official performance appraisal I was placed in the top 15% of my peer group. I feel I have effectively wasted 10 months of my career, and this situation has left a very bitter taste in my mouth. My question is - is this now a blot on my CV with regard to other consultancies (maybe smaller, niche outfits)? Advice appreciated.

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#2 Re: How does this affect me?
16/04/2002 00:00


Surely not by those in the know. If you are interested in pursuing your career with a smaller, more human consultancy, and are as committed to adding real value to clients as we are, send me your CV.

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#3 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

david kaye


Just put the incident behind you and move on. The whole idea of being an employee is that there is \lways the risk of being 'counselled out'. Focus on the opportunities presented by this as in now you can go off and do other things or join another company.

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#4 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

Jim Wagstaffe

Try and put the experience well and truly behind you, hard as that maybe. You know the truth and that is what really matters. if you are true to yourself - you will win through.

The bitter taste in your mouth is difficult to live with, but the only person it will affect is you!! It certainly isn't a blot on your CV - nobody stands still these days - especially consultants.

The very nature of your work means that change is the only Constant.

So my advice is pick yourself up dust yourself down and get on with your next project. Turn the whole situation into a positive and build on the experience.

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#5 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

m miller

well tough - sounds like you have a right to be upset. Now that's over, your choices;

1. sue them - probably lose, lot of grief / time /lost opportunity on your part - for maybe a few dollars.

2. stop looking at your navel and get on with life - a niche consultancy that doesn't play politics with its people, that matches your skillset sounds like a good idea.

good luck

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#6 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

Richard Worsley

This happens with sad regularity, particularly at the top of a market. Yes, it is arrogant, but arrogance usually covers a degree of incompetence which you would probably have identified there.

Most small firms are run by refugees from large ones, who may have faced similar situations in the past (like I have). If you have discussions with other large firms, ask hard questions about Business Development initiatives and processes. I always did, and was rarely convinced.

Best wishes, try to identify positives for your CV which you didn't have a year ago.

Richard Worsley

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#7 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

Firm do not care about employees, they only care about billing out for each quater, less billing, equals less employees simple really, your smart so learn to surive and be the person they need or think they need,

Remove admend or adopt your CV for them tell them what the want to hear, but dont let the B** control your ability to want more..

It has happend to me several times and it is not easy, to live. Be luckly !

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#8 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

giles naylor

Unfortunately you will always feel defensive over this period in your career. The best thing is to be pragmatic and to avoid any feelings of bitterness you may have from coming to the surface at interview. Take the line last in first out with any prospective new employer. Most firms appreciate that times are difficult and that their competitors are also struggling. I would not expect small or niche consultancies to view in any negative way and if they press you on this popint I would suggest that you avoid appearing to bear a grudge.

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#9 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00


Good question. I have been facing the same problem and I really do not know how the industry will react. My personal belief is that they are going to be more tolerant in the face that the main reason to "counsel out" people was simply to cut costs. On the other hand I feel a serious reconfiguration taking place in the industry. This means new players, new bosses, new teams. So keep the faith!



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#10 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

Ronan Carter

I presume you are working/ worked for Accenture... Unfortunately, as many of my colleagues have found out, the business has to be cut-throat in who they have on the books. Skill requirements vary and 10 months later on your skillset may not be required.

It's tough but that is why you are given ample opportunity to reskill through very flexible training etc. Good luck.

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#11 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00


Hi there.

Having been made redundant on Monday - this will be the second time for me in a matter of 12 months. Believe me, it is no easier the second time, especially when your employer (due to insolvency) cannot pay you for a months work you have just completed - ie, no rent money.

I think you have to look at it in a positive light (difficult i know) - try writing a list (lateral thinking required) of all the things you learnt from your time at this consultancy. For example, the ability to adapt to new situations, change and the ability to move into and learn new skills quickly. Remember - job hunting is a position in itself.

Also, try and think what other industry you could enter into - there are many skills you use in consulting that are desperately needed elsewhere, such as project management, team management and the ability to speak to senior management and clients.

Chin up, worse comes to worse bricklaying pays well!



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#12 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00


Just a comment on that - niche consultancies do play politics - often worse and more obvious. Trust me on this one!

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#13 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00


Hmm... that sounds like a PR job to me!

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#14 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00



Take some consoldation in the fact that the existing Managing Consultancy Model is coming to end due to over pricing and lack of added value. Someone like yourself should get into a smaller dynamic Consultancy business operating a new type of business model, or go on your own.

Never was there such a falsehood as the Company Report and Accounts statement 'Our People are our greatest Asset'. It should read 'Our People are our greatest Asset until we don't need them anymore'.

Company loyalty is always misplaced, but it is a two way thing, You give your all, they give you the push.

Go on your own young man.



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#15 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

Brian Merritt

Dear CTR,

Go to a senior manager and request a glowing letter. Ask if they will be a reference, and help them understand all the good things you've done. If you are refused (very unlikely), try to find out what the gap is between your official performance appraisal and your supposed skills match.

If you leave on a bitter note, and with a bitter attitude, then there may be a blot, but it will be on you and not on your CV. Strong negatives will show in interviews, but only if they reflect your attitude.

What your next employer will want to see is a positive person who contributed well, got on with the culture, was releasd with regret, and brings "big league" skills to his/her smaller consultancy.

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#16 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

Fiona Tordoff

Hi there, bad luck indeed. Two bits of advice if I may. One is about the circumstances of "skill mismatch" the other about getting over it as quickly as possible as well as possible.

1) I believe that you have grounds to claim "constructive dismissal" as you were carefully selected and have been offered no course of redress to retrain for what your old company seem to think thy now need. I have even been to a tribunal like this where the MOD lost a case against a secretary who could not type very well because they had never tested her typing. Now, the bad news is, I don't think you want to go to a tribunal or you might end up getting your old job back...and frankly, if they could treat you like that you don't want to be there for another minute of your time do you? So let them know that you are thinking of filing for a hearing and maybe even go into doing that with an aim of dropping it later- see what their response is, they may offer you a good payoff - and this could be helpful for my second point.

2) Getting on with your life, projecting yourself as a winner not an angry victim...this should be your number one aim. Spend some time on you whilst in transition. Get a break or a really good course that makes you feel excellent about yourself again...not in opposition to some idiots opinion of you but simply in your own right. Then commit to working for whichever consultancy you think will make the biggest inroads into the old company's market and go get 'em. Word will get back, they will be proved wrong about you but you won't care by then ofcourse.

I have worked for three consultancies - I work for myself now. My employers were all great and NONE of them would be put off by your 10 months..particularly if you told them that you were bored and thought the company had problems in client management that you did not want to be part of!

All the one will do this to you twice in life so chin up eh and just be you.



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#17 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00


I have almost an exact experience with one of the Big 5. The reason given to me was the economic downturn post 9/11, which really had been creeping since the beginning of 2001 with first real indications in April. Further, the firm had recruited in anticipation of growth and could not really sustain the workforce, hence the need for redundancy with loose reasoning. However, I have adopted the approach to take the time to reassess other niche areas and to see what skills are required in other industry areas and to develop my skills further to be marketable in these areas. Also, I have assessed the approach to finding alternative positions, and find that it is best to be honest with your recruitment agency or HR manager. Redundancies have become common place and it is not necessarily a blot on your CV. A lot of good companies have had to reassess their busines models and have had to retrench, laying of in some cases reluctantly some very skilled people. You could have very easily been affected on a LIFO basis as there certainly must have been more experienced hands in the organisation you worked for, and the organisation would have tested them and now rely on them more than they would you. So, what do you do? Instead of feeling depressed and angry and feeling a sense of loss with a "bitter taste in your mouth", have another look at your tenure at that firm and extract the positive aspects (which I am sure must exist) of the time you spent, get proactive and face the facts head on. Use the internet effectively, go and see agencies and do some direct hunting too. The market is showing signals of picking up so - Go get that job that awaits you out there and good luck.

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#18 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

andy chilton

Hi, there.

exactly the same thing happenend to me two and a half years ago - I almost had a breakdown re: the "bitter taste" and many other negative feelings. However, i had always been positive and trained to see the opportunities flowing from the initial threat. I know I must sound trite at this time, but I got myself on wit things, used only positives on my CV and succeeded in a new role within the organisation, following a dreadfully nasty way of disposing of my team and my post. two yars later, I have been offered a position which is almost bespoke to my needs. i have engineered a package to leave as well as Outplacement counselling whihc has bought me enough time to land this position. It's also very well paid in comparison and can give me superb career growth.

Do not let the actions of otehr affect your feelings - this is emotional intelligence in practice (forgive me if that sounds patronising)and forget the past - however recent.

If you need to discuss, please reply.

Someone once offered me advice: No one can tell you you're not performing; especially when faced with evidence to the contrary.

Don't waste your energy feeling bitter - the only one hurting is YOU. I speak with experience and am no longer bitter- -in fact, in a funny way, the opportunities which followed and whihc hav led to my happy and better position would never have happened if I had given in.

Reply to email if you want to discuss. i do understand the feelings you're experiencing and can listen if phone call needed. At least do this. Listen actively to the Outplacement help. assuming you've a good consultant, they can be very useful

Good luck and you ARE going to be very content in the future. Don't let this blip mean anything other than a blip! Turn it to your advantage

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#19 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

Beth Cape

I think you may be worrying unecessarily about this. Most employers appreciate that one career mistake can happen - and smaller firms are if anything more understanding about this than the large ones. I do some work as a career management consultant, and quite a large proportion of my clients have had a "short stay" on their CV; and it doesn't seem to have affected any of them unduly! I would strongly suggest that you agree a reference with this firm now though, so that you know what will be said when these are pursued.

What worries me slightly more is what you said about the "Bitter taste". Whether we like it or not, feelings leak at interview and you may want to try and deal with some of this now so that you can appear suitably positive when talking to potential new employers.

It would also be worthwhile really doing your homework on any new role - one mistake is forgiveable, two smacks of carelessness!

Good luck.

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#20 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00


I know how you feel. The same thing happened to me and several others at IBM Global Services in London just before Christmas. All of us had been there for less than one year - some had been there less than 6 months. Despite excellent performance reviews and delivering higher utilisation figures than others who had been there years it was a case of last in first out. I can sympathise with the bitter taste as well. I was just told I had to be at a meeting with my manager one Friday afternoon. When I turned up I was coldly told "we're terminating your employment, read this letter, give me your mobile and laptop". They were 'kind' enough to give me a brown envelope for any personal possessions I had. I was then escorted off the premises. The whole process took less than 30 minutes. Made me feel like a criminal. As I was leaving I saw some colleagues who were just on the way to the meeting room to suffer the same fate.

Don't see it as a blot on your CV. Shit happens! I know it's a cliche but you've got to move on. All consultancies know the state of the market and they expect to see talented people being "counselled out". Keep positive!!!

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#21 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00


Hey, I'm really sorry this has happened.

I'm a director with one of the big four and I do recruiting. I would offer the following advice, which I hope you will take in the spirit offered, even if it is not exactly what you wanted to hear. I guess my view would be -

to be 'councelled out' is unfortunately an occupational hazard in consulting - one of the risks that goes with the (alleged) reward. Consulting (with the exception of defence and public sector) is strongly cyclical. However to be councelled out after 10 months due to a skills mismatch is definitely NOT par for the course. But on the other hand, it DOES happen, I've seen it before. Either:

1) there was an issue with you which they have not had the courage to tell you about OR

2) the person/business unit who recruited you made a mistake in their assessment of your suitibility for their particular brand of consulting and market OR

3) the person/business unit who recruited you made a mistake in their assessment of the market and you have unfortunately been let down.

You obviously need to re-assure yourself that the first possibility is not true and that the second is not true for any job you now apply for. If necessary, ask for some additional "exit" feedback - it may be more honest if you've already gone. You need to ensure that you are in fact suitible for consulting and are not about to make another mistake in joining another consultancy. One quick move is not a disaster, two looks more dubious.

If you are content that neither the first two apply, then you have been unlucky. Forward order books in consultancies are almost always less than 6 months - less than 3 months is not uncommon. One recent story concerned a big four consultancy who recruited a bunch of graduates during the milk round - by the time they were due to arrive in September, market conditions had changed and many were councelled out even before arriving!!

Being unluckly once will not be a barrier to recruitment elsewhere provided you show them you've thought about why it happened and you have checked the points above.

Good Luck!

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#22 Re: How does this affect me?
18/04/2002 00:00

andy chilton

Take it from me. Politics exist everywhere. The trick is to keep as true to your values as you can be. This way you experience the ups & downs, but at least o one can say you caused them. as for PR, isn't htat a more positive way of dealing with things. Suggest a better alternative...

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#23 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00


Shouldn't hurt you at all - simply say that the strategic focus of the consultancy changed and your skills were no longer a fit - other firms should understand that strategies change

Don't undervalue your 10 months of experience - concentrate on what you learned and what you contributed

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#24 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00

Bob Stewart

This is not a blot. Many companies are restructuring for all sorts of reasons and the management consultancies are no exception. The key to this is not to hide what happened, or be ashamed if it in any way. At interview try to give a brief rationalisation from the companies viewpoint and explain that you were just a casualty of their re-org. Don't go into detail (unless asked)and practice explaining this event with a friend or colleague in one or two brief sentences. By all means, express dissapointment, but don't be emotive about it or slang the company - this will only harm your chances. We run 2 companies - one a headhunting firm, the other an outplacement firm, so we see this frequently from both side of the fence. Look at our website for tips on CV creation and move on. Regards Bob Stewart

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#25 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00

John Smith Research

If your 'mismatched' skills are in bank treasury front-office then I may have some good news for you - please email me. Otherwise, good luck.

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#26 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00

Gilles B

My wife had a similar experience whilst working for a V V large Management consultancy.

This was resolved through a compromise agreement in the end.

My advice is to check your position with an Employment Lawyer as soon as possible.

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#27 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00


Although I have not experienced this it is a familiar problem amongst many of my Peers who are (or should I say were) consultants (mainly with the big 5 soon to be 4). My first piece of advice to you would be to check your legal rights - if your previous performance appraisal shows an above average record they could be facing a tribunal if you are made redundant on this condition.

Secondly I would say start approaching niche consultancy companies. After working for a big 5 firm for 5 years I joined a much smaller company (not particulary through choice at first but most larger companies at the time had a recruitment freeze). The work environment is very different (eg everyone pitches in when needed, projects are smaller etc.), however I have found that I have more responsibilities, work closer with clients (enabling me to develop positive relationships with them and create my own network) and I am far more accountable for my actions - which is in my opinion is a good thing. Furthermore I feel as though I have greater job security and a genuine ability to develop professionally. Oh yeh, and your expenses are paid on time to! Go for it.

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#28 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00

Laura McManus

It's not advice as such but sympathy: a similar thing happened to me in January when my ex-company (a top 5 consultancy) was looking to downsize. Despite only being recruited to that particular job 10 months before and having a good appraisal i found myself selected for redundancy as "my skills didn't match the profile of the company going forward". All I can say is that I am looking at several options now, including self employment and using my skills in a different sector - charity/education where I feel I can put something back in rather than being hounded about how much money I am making for the firm. This may mean taking a salary cut but I am willing to trade this working for a firm that doesn't treat their staff as expendible! Good luck with whatever you decide to do, the crucial thing I was advised is:

- don't put on application forms you were made redundant (your job was!)

- be positive about your previous employer when interviewed (however much this is difficult!)

- a lot of consultancy forms spend huge amounts of time and effort trying to suss out the competition_ I am sure that may smaller firms would be delighted that you have the inside track on one of their competitors!

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#29 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00


your comment sounds awfully familiar. I have the feeling that we were working in the same company, only I was 'councelled out' six months ago. Don't despair, and don't take it seriously. It shouldn't cause you serious problems in finding a new job, most employers already know that these things happen. I heard of people who had joined the company, with an MBA from a top European school and they were 'councelled out' four months later.

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#30 Re: How does this affect me?
19/04/2002 00:00

Thomas Yeung


I really understand your situation because I've been there myself: I was headhunted to join A T Kearney in Q3 2000 because they were very keen to get someone with my particular combination of skills and experience to support their growth model. It took several months to agree terms, and I joined ATK in Jan 2001, by which time they had had a major change in strategy and internal performance metrics (moving from industry profit-centres, to geographic profit-centres).

As a result, the incentives were all now different, and my efforts to support my international industry colleagues were no longer appreciated (they didn't contribute to the LOCAL profit centre).

At the end of the year, therefore, though I was very popular with my industry colleagues (I helped them win major projects in Europe and elsewhere), I was counselled out because 'I didn't contribute enough to the UK profit centre'. Further, all the people who supported my initial application to join the firm had left for various reasons during the year, so there was no-one left to argue my case.

And the moral to my story? Make sure that you understand what's important to your bosses when you go in - and keep checking that what you think is important is aligned with how they are measured!

And will your short stay affect your career prospects? I don't think so, because switching jobs in consultancy is far more common than in other industries. You just need to be clear when explaining why your stay with XYZ was shorter than would otherwise be the case.

Have fun!

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#31 Re: How does this affect me?
22/04/2002 00:00

Chris Sale

1) probably not: depends on how "stable" the rest of the CV is. If it follows several other short moves you'll have more of a problem

2) more significant will be how you handle it: you describe your self as bitter and that you have "wasted" 10 months. You need to reappraise this attitude and reconcile yourself to the reality which is that the consultancy market is in crisis and that firms have had to get rid of people in the most painless manner possible. The alternative to losing you would have been someone else: who would you have picked? Is that any more fair?

My advice may sound a bit hard but the point is that if you approach the job market with the wrong mental attitude you will find it much more difficult to get a good job. You may say that of course you would not come across like this in interview situations but believe me any decent series of interviews will find out and people will be put off hiring you.

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#32 Re: How does this affect me?
22/04/2002 00:00

Randall Gregory

You are certainly not alone in this predicament. I worked for two major consulting companies over the last four years and it is not a new problem, although it is that much worse in this economy. My role was Recruiting Manager for a particular consulting practice and in the last year there my colleagues and I hired about 300 people at all levels into the practice. I suspect at least 200 are gone now(I have been for quite a while).

Management in these organizations is constantly trying to gauge the market for particular services and hire accordingly. The success rates I saw in their envisioning where the market was going was pretty low. As for relavent skills needed by a firm, I think that can change a lot more quickly than a firm is able to react to it effectively, even if they have shrewd management, which is not always the case.

As for a blot on your CV in general, I think not. However, it sure doesnt help if during your tenure you did not have the opportunity to work on a really good project and be able to talk about significant accomplishments. What you need to do is focus on communicating any and all things of value gained from your short tenure there and in interviews keep it upbeat without any negative attitude. Present it as a learning experience and that you are ready to move on to the next challenge. People who are hiring now understand what has been going on in the big consulting market and should evaluate you objectively (in general).

Good luck in your search and if you hear of any needs for Recruiting Managers...

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#33 Re: How does this affect me?
24/04/2002 00:00

Paul Rumball

The situation you find yourself in is the same as many other Consultants: a number of firms have been 'letting go' of staff after a year - Booz.Allen being one. This should have no adverse effect on your career, as recruiters should understand your predicament given the current market. You should be careful about your next position and select with care. It is important thay you remain there for a number of years, otherwise your CV will make you look 'nomadic' & that is hard to sell to clients.

Working Assets are an executive search firm working in the Management Consultancy & Financial Services industries.

Good luck!!

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#34 Re: How does this affect me?
26/04/2002 00:00


Snap exactly!

I don't think its a blot, it is just a reflection of the current consulting market. I had three job offers back in industry within a month. Maybe its time to leave consultancy and go back into industry until the market changes.

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#35 Re: How does this affect me?
28/04/2002 00:00

Akhtar Zahid

Hello CTR,

I have been in your position myself. Redundancy is not a nice position because you think that it is you who is at fault. Within the world of consulting it is usually the case that fees dry up and the company needs to stop the flow of cash. Obviously staff are the first to be hit.

I would suggest that you still put your time of 10 months on your CV and explain the position as a skils mismatch between anticipated needs and current market requirements. Also, this has happened a lot in the past year so most conultanices (even the small ones) understand.

Give me a call if you would like to chat!


Mobile: 07967 552192

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#36 Re: How does this affect me?
31/05/2002 00:00

Dave Nelson


Nothing to do with this thread - just trying to ge in touch.

Are you still doing cross-cultural communication consultancy work? I met you at Rover Group in this context just before you jumped ship. I'm now at Cadbury Schweppes and think we may have some work in this area in my department, which has a regional remit (Europe, Middle East, Asai and Africa) and for our in-pats on arrival. Could you email me or phone on 0121 451 4713.


Dave Nelson (used to work for Phil Bishop and went on one of your cross-cultural team working train-the-trainer courses in Germany)

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