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Bonus Time at PA

 
#1 Bonus Time at PA
08/03/2007 15:43

Anon

So we're just days away from bonus time at PA Consulting... what % are fellow PA'ers expecting to get?

We had a record year, so hoping bonuses will be good...

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#2 RE: Bonus Time at PA
11/03/2007 22:04

anon to Anon (#1)

...ah yes, but bumper year 2006 didn't lead to massive bonuses, somehow the two don't always seem to correlate

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#3 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 10:14

4 to anon (#2)

do you both enjoy working for PA?

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#4 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 10:30

anon to 4 (#3)

I used to work their, many positives (interesting clients, good quality people), however also some negatives (slightly bizarre promotion decisions, pay isn't stunning despite what you get told, general tight arsed approach to expenses / corporate costs)

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#5 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 10:38

4 to anon (#4)

I'm going to see them shortly, do you have any advice for things I should be aware of or looking for?

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#6 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 10:41

anon to 4 (#5)

what level and which area (industry or service practice etc), will help me give you some more useful advice

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#7 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 10:45

4 to anon (#6)

financial services practice, experienced hire (10 years)

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#8 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 10:53

anon to 4 (#7)

Ok so I am guessing PC or MC level, the FS group in PA isn't a roaring sucess, however they were putting considerable management resource into it when I left, therefore areas to explore:

- Current pipeline of actual FS work / who major client are

- Freedom regarding assignment choice, as you could end up on a Gov job for 2 years otherwise

- Profitability of practice (your bonus at PC and above depends upon practice performance)

- Likely utilisation target, and if appropriate sales target

- If you are going in at PC the promotion path to MC

Hope this helps

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#9 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 11:22

4 to anon (#8)

Thanks anon.

How likely is it that PA will set unrealistic targets for an individual? e.g. expecting them to start generating a revenue stream without support or being 'left on a limb' during assignments?

Why did you leave PA? Why do people leave PA generally?

What is the work-life balance like? Is there much favouritism in the firm?

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#10 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 12:10

anon to 4 (#9)

Support: Depends upon assignment and the Partner you work for. If you are an MC you will have to develop your own revenue streams to deliver against sales targets quite quickly. However at PC level you are expected to support MC sales bids and you get sales credits for them.

My reasons for leaving PA were in part a consulting issue and in part a PA issue

- Favouritism regarding promotions (which people deny but it is quite common) / no obvious reason why I wasn't promoted

- Bonus not matching the reteric

- Wanting to control my own destiny more, rather than being reliant upon a few senior people

- Opportunity to manage other people was limited lower down (though did manage it on 2 assignments)

- I completed a number of short term jobs and wanted to feel I was part of delivering something for a business and less of an outsider (general consulting issue)

- I recieved a great offer for a new job (better WLB & better pay)

People tend to leave PA due to a variety of reasons, I like many wouldn't rule out returning and many people do.

WLB varies wildly between job and practice, PA isn't great at the whole work from home office on a Friday approach. That said weekend working at a junior level (up to Consultant) is reasonably controlable. Time off between jobs means you can take it easy for a few days, before getting sucked into internal work.

IMHO to be sucessful at PA you need to latch onto a sucessful MC / Partner. There are issues about people being rewarded for milking an account or sitting on a govermnet job rather than delivering truely innovative assignments / client work and just missing utilisation targets etc.

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#11 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 12:26

4 to anon (#10)

Thanks anon, this is really helpful.

What are the levels / what is the grading structure at PA?

Realistically, how many hours do people work at PA? Also how often does weekend work happen?

What is the travel like? Obviously "it depends" but are we talking major stays away from home / living out of a suitcase in some foreign land or is it more like the odd road trip up the M1?

How 'cut throat' is the firm? If I'm not consistently performing at 110% or if I dare to leave the office at 5.30pm is that a sure-fire sign I'm going to get canned? What about utilisation targets? Are we talking something that can be easily achieved or are we talking 90% utilisation and dependence on staffing mechanisms outside your control?

When on a job, do people work at a reasonable pace, or are they all constantly running around like headless chickens?

Is there an up or out policy or anything similar? Are people on the whole generally content or are they constantly in fear of keeping their jobs and meeting targets?

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#12 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 12:29

4 to 4 (#11)

Just thought that I'd add to the above the following:

Basically I'm no longer a kid and can't be messing around with silly hours or unreasonable levels of job insecurity. I'm a family man and need a bit of certainty and stability in my life. Is PA compatible with this?

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#13 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 12:57

anon to 4 (#12)

Hours: Standard consulting hours tend to apply so 50 - 60, sometimes more. However I did a number of jobs in London where I worked 9 -6 most days and even left earlier on a Friday sometimes.

Working away from home, FS obviously has advantages of clients in London. However it really does depend, lots of people live out of suitcases for a whole week even in FS given PA's limited client base in this area (note previous point about lack of Friday in base office).

That said some people have negotiated a maximum of 3 nights away from home, 1 day in base office as part of their contracts. So worth a try!

Grading Structure is:

Analyst, Consultant Analyst, Consultant, Principle Consultant, Managing Consultant, Partner, Senior Partner

PA is not as cut throat as some other consulting firms. It is not an up and out firm, and you can miss targets / have others things taken into account. However targets tend to be challenging as you would expect.

That said if you underperform dramatically (not speaking from experience here!) you get placed on a performance improvement programme and a chance to improve.

Utilisation levels are typical 75-90% dependant upon practice.

So in summary, good job security, hours dependant upon a number of factors

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#14 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 13:07

4 to anon (#13)

OK, sounds good security-wise. So as I understand it, people don't just get summoned to a meeting with some unknown partner or go into their appraisal expecting to get fired on the spot (or counselled out, whatever it's called these days). Basically you end up on a 'performance improvement programme' at which point you basically know you have 6 months to find a new job, right?

The hours are a concern to me. 50-60 hours does not sound good. That means 9am to 8-9pm every day as part of the normal working routine, right? That's pretty intense, I'm no slacker but I do like my summer evenings. Are people 'allowed' to take work home or work flexibly?

Re: travel - are we talking travel around the UK (i.e. if I'm prepared to commute 100 miles every day can I drive home most nights), or are we talking being shipped off to far-flung lands?

Thanks again, very much appreciated.

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#15 RE: Bonus Time at PA
12/03/2007 17:40

anon to 4 (#14)

Probably nearer the 50 hour mark to be fair, however if you are away then tends to be longer as only a hotel to go to etc.

You can WAH and work flexibly, however client facing time is pretty important at PA and varies a lot by project.

Very UK focused though occasional travel elsewhere. Depends upon location, you could be in Scotland for example with some FS jobs, alternatively city of london etc.

You need to ask at the interview about flexibility, as it will vary and contracts also vary.

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#16 RE: Bonus Time at PA
13/03/2007 08:50

4 to anon (#15)

Regarding travel, I know it "all depends" etc so the usual disclaimers apply, but roughly what % of the time can the typical PAer be sleeping in his/her own bed?

If working say 100 miles away, how would it be viewed if you chose to commute rather than stay in a hotel?

I went to a PA event yesterday and definitely picked up on the favouritism theme you mentioned, it was pretty clear who the senior partner liked and who he didn't.

Also if you don't mind me asking, when you left PA, where did you go? (just give a general idea if you don't want to mention names).

Thanks again, I owe you for this!

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#17 RE: Bonus Time at PA
13/03/2007 09:41

anon to 4 (#16)

Provided you could be on client site and deliver the work I don't think that comuting wouldn't be a problem. I know people who used to commute to MOD jobs which involved 2 hours of travel each way (hours were quite predictable with these)

I spent the majority of my time in london, probably more so than most. As to a % in your own bed, I know people who have achieved this for 100% of the time for 2 - 3 years on some jobs. Others who it is nearer 30 - 40%. The one advantage is PA tends to undertake shorter assignments (non government) than the likes of ACN, so periods away are dispersed with periods at home.

Word of caution if you are looking to be regionally based (not in London), you are unlikely to spend much time in your home office.

On leaving PA I went into a job in corporate strategy and finance, where I now lead a team working very closely with the board and senior mangement team on a daily basis. This was quite a jump salary and responsibility wise, though the roles and clients that I worked for at PA definetly helped me secure this position, which I am really enjoying.

Good luck with it, PA can / is a great place to work given a fair wind and right circumstances, give me a shout if you need any more info!

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#18 RE: Bonus Time at PA
13/03/2007 17:15

good place to anon (#17)

Hours are good compared to most consultancies as above. Big push in the last year to support flexible working practices for both men and women so don't be afraid to raise this at interviews.

I actually disagree strongly with the favouritism theme, there is a clear 360 degree appraisal system that is rigorously applied.

On the performance improvement plans for the bottom performers, you really have to have a total stinker in many respects to be put on this, it's really just a backup plan to get rid of total wasters. People from other firms will scoff that this means that PA is full of deadwood, but the reality is it's a mature way to treat your staff and they appreciate not living in fear of the sack all the time, so perform well as they feel wanted. The way the bonus system is constructed rewards better performers to consistent poor performers will leave before they're pushed.

It does have it's bad points, but no firm is perfect. As a place to work with interesting work and reasonable hours, it's great though. I too have moved on to a good job on the back of many good years there having joined as a graduate, compared to the work my peers from uni have done at other consultancies it gave me a much broader skill set and more interesting work rather than just a pigeonhole.

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#19 RE: Bonus Time at PA
14/03/2007 09:26

anon to good place (#18)

"I actually disagree strongly with the favouritism theme, there is a clear 360 degree appraisal system that is rigorously applied"

But at the end of the day the readacross system employed is often about who you know, not always what you know. Some very bizarre promotion results wer occuring.

"gave me a much broader skill set and more interesting work rather than just a pigeonhole"

Agree completely that is its biggest strength.

"reasonable hours"

Guess it really does depend, for every ok job there are ones which have long hours. Though PA was trying to improve WLB.

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#20 RE: Bonus Time at PA
14/03/2007 10:13

4 to anon (#19)

Would you say PA is a 'mature' environment? Many of the PAers I met at a recent event were OK but seemed to think they were better consultants than they probably are. One of them was talking about "my client this" and "my client that" as if he was an old hand, and it later turned out he had only 1 years experience of consultancy.

Also some of the "managing consultants" didn't have the skills I would expect of somebody at this grade. One of them was basically a sales guy with very limited professional consultancy experience.

Others were giving me simply confusing messages. One mid-ranking guy talked about how he is responsible for writing proposals as well as doing work. Then he started talking about how big and multinational the projects are. I simply couldn't reconcile somebody of his experience selling huge jobs like that.

Overall they came across as 'good guys' but I couldn't help but sniff a faint whiff of ego and exaggeration during the conversations. My main worry however is the competitiveness of the place. This worries me quite a lot. I want to work in a down to earth atmosphere where you're not constantly scrambling against a bunch of kids to try and be the one who 'stands out' all the time.

What do you think?

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#21 RE: Bonus Time at PA
14/03/2007 11:26

in response to above to 4 (#20)

A consultancy's brand lives and dies by its people and doesn't sound like you got the best there.

Generally, PA is a good culture as it's mostly made up of experienced industry people (plus obviously some graduates) and so consultancy speak and theoretic rubbish are cast aside and the type of consultancy offered is very pragmatic and results-based. Certainly not the "kids scrambling around" you mention, if anything the average age is a bit older than other consultancies. You'll always get a few know-it-alls, but certainly not the norm.

Oh and yes, mid-ranking people (Principal Consultants) do write proposals, but under the supervision of more senior people who have sales targets. It's part of the learning curve to move them to the next level.

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#22 RE: Bonus Time at PA
14/03/2007 13:16

anon to in response to above (#21)

Would agree with most of the above.

The two thing about the culture that used to wind me up most were:

- People consistently saying that "PA is different" "PA is unique" as an excuse / selling point when in reality it is like any other consulting firm operating in the same market. Mean't competitive threats in terms of other firms were not property identified.

- Lack of ability to set proper targets for internal reorg and improvement initiatives and communicate their sucess or failure. This was in stark contrast to the excellent way in which PA managed the other elements of its business (sales, opportunities, market development etc)

That said these are pretty minor compared to a generally positive experience.

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#23 RE: Bonus Time at PA
14/03/2007 13:21

anon to anon (#22)

"One mid-ranking guy talked about how he is responsible for writing proposals as well as doing work"

IMHO this is a good thing about PA, people who write the proposal deliver the work. Reduces the selling of things that can't be delivered.

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#24 RE: Bonus Time at PA
15/03/2007 12:00

anon to anon (#23)

do you get bonus in your first year or do you have to be there for a few years?

is it all in cash?

how much is the car allowance?

cheers

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#25 RE: Bonus Time at PA
15/03/2007 16:40

anon to anon (#24)

My bonus was ok

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#26 RE: Bonus Time at PA
15/03/2007 19:34

bri500 to anon (#24)

Bonus is payable for any portion of the year you work Jan-Dec, paid end of March following year.

Paid part cash, part shares. Share element changes, for Analyst, Consultant Analyst and Consultant it's 10% of your bonus, 30% at PC and going up to 50% at higher ranks. Shares can be redeemed in tranches dependant on your rank. You are also granted options based on your performance for the year that vest 3 years later, these are free and independent from the bonus payment.

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#27 RE: Bonus Time at PA
15/03/2007 22:16

Tintin to bri500 (#26)

Why hijack someone else's thread ? If you want to know more abt PA , start a thread , name it "What is it like to work in PA" , and discuss it there.

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#28 RE: Bonus Time at PA
16/03/2007 10:17

Sparky to Tintin (#27)

I went to a careers evening at PA. Their FS dept was hiring. To be honest I didn't get the impression that they were that hot. The consultants I met were all a bit accountancy with little real market experience. The City seems to have far better firms if FS is your bag.

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