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Strategy firms with good work-life balance?

 
#1 Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
12/02/2008 21:40

anon

I'm currently at a Big 4 firm and have a pretty good work-life balance. Been here a while and thinking of moving on to further study with the end goal of working in strategy.

From what I can see they seem to work pretty crazy hours. Is this the case with all the big firms? MBB and the 2nd tier firms?

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#2 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
13/02/2008 08:49

anon to anon (#1)

Yes. Good luck with your £50K post-grad follies!

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#3 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
14/02/2008 10:14

Chery to anon (#1)

Yes it is pretty long hrs. I used to work 9.30am-10.30pm for almost 2 yrs but it was damn cool stuff and you travel around the world.

Sometimes you finish in crap places in Asia and Africa but other times we were in California or Dubai.

If you like the job it will not bother you to do long hrs, and the people in these firms are among the best and workin together enriched me a lot.

Plus you don't work 14 hrs without interruptions. You have your breaks inc meals and gym and it's all paid by the firm and the salary is good.

Good luck

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#4 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
14/02/2008 12:26

Bothered to Chery (#3)

9:30am - 10:30pm is only 13 hours you slacker! Being allowed to stop to eat and go to the gym is pure indulgence. My guess is that you sneeked some extra time away from your laptop by going to the toilet.

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#5 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
14/02/2008 16:24

Chris Sale, Prism Executive Recruitment to Bothered (#4)

It depends a lot on you and particularly where you are in your life and career. There are some pretty big considerations here particularly as you refer to "further study" which presumably means an MBA from a top school, which means lots of money and a break in the career. I think the starting point always has to be to decide what you want from your life and career and where you want to be and work back from that which obviously involves asking yourself some hard questions about your real ambition. If the answer is that the next move is “strategy consulting” then you may find the lifestyle challenges worth it but don’t underestimate them. 80 hour weeks might seem exciting and sexy when you’re in your twenties but are significantly less interesting year in year out, moving into your thirties and beyond. Certainly you can forget any social life. Clearly this may be less relevant if you are using the strategy consulting role as a stepping stone to something else but can still be pretty rotten and will be a huge shock if you currently have a good work life balance. But then again now might be the time to really push yourself!

Firms are NOT all as bad as each other but in my experience small firms are just as likely to have insane hours.

Sorry to seem like a wet blanket: I’m just giving you the benefit of some of the conversations I have had with burnt out strategy consultants!

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#6 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
14/02/2008 16:47

Chery to Chris Sale, Prism Executive Recruitment (#5)

When you work for a MBB there nothing such as slacker.I was bl***y efficient and managed to prepare spreadsheets and presentation in half the time of my colleagues.

People are not slaves: slaves don't perform.

Really, I never worked 80hrs a week: this is insane. Your brain would fume after that.

Enjoy folks

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#7 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
14/02/2008 16:57

The Senior Vice President to Chery (#6)

Well many years when I worked for a MBB, I also did my work in half the time of my colleagues. Yet I was stuck in the damn office until midnight almost every night because some idiot would expect me there 'just in case'. And of course, at that age you're too naive and probably also too needy of the income to put your foot down and take control of the situation.

I don't think a lot's changed over the years. Some firms simply expect too much of their staff, manage them too inefficiently, and don't offer enough in the way of job security to justify the salaries on offer.

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#8 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
14/02/2008 23:12

MBBer to The Senior Vice President (#7)

Maybe things are changing. I'm into 30s, have kids, didn't sign up for 80 hours a week. And guess what - no-one expects 80 hours a week, and only certain types of case require it. Haven't had any experience of being kept on 'just in case' and keeping track of my own hours, I've averaged 55-60 over the last year. Ask the firms you are interested in what their expectations are - they can only tell you the truth.

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#9 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
15/02/2008 09:01

The Senior Vice President to MBBer (#8)

Fair enough, but even 60 hours a week works out to be 12 hours a day if you don't work weekends...

Which means getting in at 9am and leaving at 9am, for instance. Assuming a reasonable 1 hour commute, that means you'll leave home at say 8am and get back at 10pm (including on Friday)... just in time for bedtime. I for one would say that's pretty full-on.

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#10 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
15/02/2008 09:02

The Senior Vice President to The Senior Vice President (#9)

*pm

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#11 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
15/02/2008 09:55

D to The Senior Vice President (#10)

Why even bother having this discussion???

If you work at a top firm you are going to work hard. There are 1000s of people prepared to do this, myself included.

For those that are not, don't complain or go seeking something that doesn't exist. Just look for something that fits and accept that it will undoubtedly be a "less prestigious" role. You can't have it both ways.

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#12 RE: Strategy firms with good work-life balance?
15/02/2008 10:28

The Senior Vice President to D (#11)

A word to the wise, though...

The top firms will work you hard. You will get a lot of prestige from the brand on your CV (from those within the world of MC), but you will work long hours. The pay will be OK, but nothing amazing. And when you leave MC, most of the people you meet probably won't know who "MacKenzies" or the like are anyway.

But, you don't have to work hard or have a top brand to earn a lot of money. Become a contractor or start your own business or something. Why be somebody else's skivvy when you can do the same thing for yourself but keep 100% of the reward? There's no job certainty in MC these days anyway, so that doesn't factor into it. And on a "stress and hours worked per unit of net salary obtained" basis, some of the lower-tier firms win hands down in my opinion.

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