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consultancy=no family life?

#1 consultancy=no family life?
22/05/2006 16:27



I was thinking of going into consultancy post MBA. I have been a little put off by some of these threads, but I am also aware that, as with medical forums, it's probably those with the problems who post on the internet, whilst all the happy ones don´t bother. Anyway, my negative impression (which I'd be delighted for you to shoot down in flames if possible) is that a move into consultancy would mean swapping a life spent with my pretty young wife and future children, to one spent in the same hotel as a bunch of public schoolboys with no private life and a dangerous love of alcohol. Now, I must confess, that could well have suited me aged 24, but now I am 35. So should I forget the whole consultancy thing? Thanks

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#2 Re: consultancy=no family life?
22/05/2006 16:39

Suitcase Man

Most consultancies nowadays strive to achieve "5-4-3" on those projects that have you based away from home. 5-4-3 equates to 5th day spent working in the office (Friday), 4 days spent working at the client site (Mon-Thurs) and therefore 3 nights spent living away from home. So for these projects you would expect to be sleeping in your own bed 4 nights of the week and in a hotel the other 3.

Probably 50% of projects are local enough that you commute straight to the client from home, so that you aren't away at all. The other 50% would be based away from home and would have you on the 5-4-3 routine.

So in answer to your question, not a career to pursue if you genuinely never want to be away from home - but also not as bad as it's sometimes made out to be in terms of travel...

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#3 Re: consultancy=no family life?
22/05/2006 17:01

A weary consultant

As someone who has been a consultant for ten years, you should take into consideration the amount of travel you want to do. I've been lucky enough to work for some great firms with great clients, and I've seen a lot of the world, but it's cost me -- my marriage and my health.

The amount of travel you need to do will be based upon a number of factors -- primarily your location and your company's client base. If you choose a smaller UK firm, or one that specialises in (for example) public sector work, you're unlikely to have to do too much long-haul travel. If, on the other hand, you join one of the big boys with an international client base, you will probably spend more of your time on the road.

If you're flying to Asia or America on a regular basis, it's not practical to have you work 3 or 4 days on the client site. Typically you can bank on being away from home 3 weeks out of 4 or some similar sort of arrangement.

The other variable is your home base. If you're based in central London, you might get away without having to travel too much -- much of UK industry is commutable from the centre. I've moved out of London, and while it's improved my quality of life, it's also increased the number of sites that are now not commutable on a daily basis.

Different roles offer different amounts of travel. Ask your prospective company about how much travel their guys do, their home-life balance, opportunities for working from home, etc.

It's not worth dismissing the whole consultancy thing out of hand, but it is worth going in with your eyes open.

Good luck!

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#4 Re: consultancy=no family life?
22/05/2006 17:07


You should also consider that whatever career you have it is quite likely that you will be "relocated". This may be due to redundancy, company reorganisation, or because you have outgrown your role and choose to move on.

Early in career this is can be OK - just a change of scenery. However later on it can become unrealistic to move......your wife works, kids are in school/doing exams, and you have to pay stamp duty on a large house.

The consultancy lifestyle may be more attractive than having to fund a second home during the week.

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