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Work-life balance in consultancy?

 
#1 Work-life balance in consultancy?
19/11/2006 20:06

anon

Hi there,

I am five years in consulting, considering to move to another consulting company in London and starting to think of the actual work-life balance that is available. How many hours a week you on average work and how many days a month spend away from home?

Thanks

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#2 RE: Work-life balance in consultancy?
20/11/2006 04:48

bri500 to anon (#1)

Comes up a lot on here but I've been at PA Consulting 7+ years and the work life balance is great - I actually get to see my wife and kid both in the morning and in the evenings!

Depends on the practice and location you join, but perfectly acceptable most places to work a 9-hour day, nobody bats an eyelid if you pack up and leave at 5:30pm (or even earlier if you have something to do) and there are various working patterns you can do if you don't want to work full-time or work flexible hours (e.g. when my daughter was born I often worked til about 4pm then did another couple of hours in the evening when she'd gone to bed).

Working away? Again, depends on the practice, can be national or international travel involved but quite a lot of people operate most of the time from their base office.

People do of course sneer that PA can't be real consultants if we don't work the hours. I'd wager most of them haven't been happy enough to stay 7 years at their "prestige" consultancy to be able to comment properly. They may also find that well-rested, respected and motivated people can achieve just as much in 9 hours as they do in 12-14.

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#3 RE: Work-life balance in consultancy?
21/11/2006 13:54

Boxershorts to bri500 (#2)

I can support Bri500's comments with my own example.

Where Bri's lucky in seeing his family both morning and evening, I tend to work a slightly different way, but it gets us the balance that my family and I want.

I spend time with the kids in the morning and take them to school, so I'll arrive at the office a tad later and I then stay later - still working around 8 or 9 hours with/for the client. The flipside is that I don't get to see the kids in the evening.

We make sure that we schedule meetings, etc for midmorning or in the afternoon so I can attend. I've not had one client who is not happy to work this way. Proves the case that clients are people too ;)

Of course, if there's an important morning meeting or concall with folks in, say, Singapore, I go in early because of timezone challenges, but generally my pattern is as described above.

Everything is flexible. Find your balance. IMO 12-14 hour days as a rule is nuts.

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#4 No Work-life balance at PA
21/11/2006 22:10

BTGer to bri500 (#2)

Good for you Bri, if you can do a 9 hour day.

I work as a Principal Consultant in one of the BTG practices, and work 10 – 12 hour days on client sites, plus at least another 10 hours at the weekend doing practice development / staff management stuff. Add in travel to client sites, largely on ones personal time, to places as far flung as Eastern Europe, and my own experience is that PA’s work life balance is poor in the extreme.

And to what avail, I ask myself, looking at the complete absence of any POC or BOP promotions to partner over the past twelve months, and none budgeted for 2007!

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#5 RE: No Work-life balance at PA
22/11/2006 05:10

bri500 to BTGer (#4)

I'm not saying everyone works the same hours but it can be done. I would certainly say a very good proportion (i.e. well over half) the people I know at the company do the same. It depends on job, the partner etc. but over my years at PA I've learned when simply to say no and set my working hours pattern very early on in projects (of course, I work longer if there's big deadlines but that's the exception, not the rule). As the person above also says, setting that expectation with the client is also entirely fine too. It's not your fault if the Partner has undersold the job and you should make that abundantly clear to them (you may not ever work with that person again but if you don't like it, who cares???)

As for practice development stuff, well, that's your choice depending on where you want to get. I started out in consultancy aiming to be a partner but becoming a dad made me re-evaluate, I'm happy just being a competent operator and not feeling like I have to jump through all the hoops/ working all the hours just to deliver some dead-end internal guff (as 90% of it invariably is). With so few opportunities to make Partner it really is a rat race, so if that's what you want you can do it, but as I say I've set my stall out and my Practice is happy with it - as long as I continue to deliver strong numbers on the client side (which I tend to do as I'm happy, rested and motivated when in the office!).

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