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Big or small firm?

 
#1 Big or small firm?
28/08/2003 00:00

Anon

I currently have the opportunity to join a big mgt consulting firm (the transformation arm of CGEY) as well as a smaller, growth orientated firm - and am seeking experienced views on which would be the most appropriate one to pursue. I am well aware of the negative opinions of CGEY expressed in this forum but am looking for advice on which firm is suitable for me at this point in my career ( I am 30 and have 3-4 years public sector consulting experience). Both firms packages are similar but I need an insight into culture, responsibility, promotions etc.. I would appreciate all opinions. Regards

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#2 Re: Big or small firm?
28/08/2003 00:00

Anony

Dont join CGE&Y, it would be the worse career move of your life. Take it from someone who is desperate to leave this god awful consulting firm.... The firm has no strong leadership and act in what I can only describe as completely unethical.

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#3 Re: Big or small firm?
28/08/2003 00:00

David Bonney

Having been through the same decision process (albeit ten yeras ago) I would advise the "small is beautiful" route. CGEY is most likely a sweatshop like the other majors - impersonal, aggressive, not leading-edge, political, hated by clients, full of consultants who hate their jobs etc etc. Go somewhere with the opportunity for closer client relationships and particularly equity participation/real and transparent profit share.

Try to report to a partner/proprietor/lead shareholder who you trust and who won't use you as a "battery" - i.e. switch you on and dump you when you are drained!

David

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#4 Re: Big or small firm?
28/08/2003 00:00

John

Sounds like you got some honest input on your dilemma. Good luck with your choice. I'm interested in entering the public sector management consulting field. Seems like you have experience there. Can you give me any advice about my first job in the area. I have lots of public sector experience and a lot of advanced degrees in pysch, management and organizational sciences. Any clues about how to break in?

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#5 Re: Big or small firm?
28/08/2003 00:00

Anon

Big or small probably depends on your tastes - and either could be good or bad. I don't know much about small as I haven't changed company since I left university nearly 20 years ago - and I now work in CGE&Y Public Sector. I have had many, varied and interesting roles in that time, including the opportunity to work abroad. I have also had the opportunity to move roles when I felt like a change. What you do need to understand, though, is that you will still need to look after yourself, and make sure people know what you want to do. If you prove you are good, and worth keeping happy, they will normally help you do it (in my personal experience). If someone sits quietly just doing their own particular current assignment, making no proactive suggestions for improvement, not keeping an eye on the trends around them, they may just be left there to get on with it quietly gathering dust until the day the role isn't needed any more...

Well anyway, I've had a small number of unpleasant assignments over the years but mostly I have really enjoyed working for CGE&Y - and CGE&Y public sector is doing great, plenty of work, lots of interesting projects, lots of opportunities. (And no I'm not one of the people trying to recruit you!)

Good luck - hope you make the right choice for you.

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#6 Re: Big or small firm?
28/08/2003 00:00

Owner of a small company

The choice depends on how entrepreneurial you are, how much infrastructure you need and how well you feel you can create your own opportunities. The advantage of a large consultancy is that you will be exposed to a large number of ideas and opportunities, the disadvantange is that you will have less control of your own destiny. I started a small niche consultancy after working for one of the large consultancies, and would not go back! I did however welcome the experience I gained at the larger company.

The choice is less to do with big vs small, but more to do with the company's culture and success. Questions you may want to ask both companies are: what their revenue and profit is per employee, how they share their profits amongst their employees, and what you would be doing in the first six months. Good luck!

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#7 Re: Big or small firm?
29/08/2003 00:00

Remember that CGEY is the company that has has several major and recent rounds of redundancies and is now recruiting - you can imagine what this must feel like to those already working there and the impact on company culture.

Would also ask them when people last had a pay rise (if they say anything other than over 2 years ago, I'd start to worry)

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#8 Re: Big or small firm?
29/08/2003 00:00

Go for the small company. CGE&Y's business practices are ruthlessly unethical. I worked for them for several years. They are only interested in appeasing their shareholders, and care nothing for their customers or (least of all) staff. Look at the headcounts in countries around the globe, and look at the redundancies over the last 3 years (at least the ones they've owned up to). The US and UK have born the brunt of them, simply because redundancies in the loss-making French and German companies are too expensive.

If they tell you their Transformational Consultancy business is doing well, ask them why they ditched the guy who ran it until a few months ago.

In the first 5 years with the company, I had a varied and often interesting selection of projects. The last two years were a nightmare, and from ex-colleagues still in the company, things are no better now.

With public sector experience, you could do far better with a smaller consultancy.

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#9 Re: Big or small firm?
29/08/2003 00:00

Anon

You must make the choice that feels right for you. Both could be right, the better one will the organisation and people that suits your needs & style best. I have worked in both and have good / bad opinions of both, overall prefer small but... Big (CGEY or whoever) - you will be a small fish, more opp to learn new skills but reduced ability to influence what or where you work even, increasingly as you get more senior. Small - variety of firms is huge, culture depends on the boss/founder usually, they are often very very very driven (often ex Big Firms, with something to prove...?), some are really glorified contract agencies and will put you on any old rubbishy job, so I think it is critical that you assess whether you can work with the boss of the small firm in question. If so, go for it. If you're not sure then you will probably be looking again within 12 months.

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#10 Re: Big or small firm?
29/08/2003 00:00

Paul

I've worked in a small consultancy for 4 years, I have friends in some of the big names. I don't think you can assume that a small consultancy offers more ethics, more freedom, fewer risks of redunancies, more pay rises etc etc. However if I had the choice 4 years ago on which to join, it would have been the smaller one every time. Simply put there is more opportunity to influence things, to make a mark and I believe have fun and enjoy what you do. CGE&Y, Accidenture etc etc will never compete in this respect. However if you want that big name on your cv and want to work in a structured environment etc etc.. Only you can decide.

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#11 Re: Big or small firm?
01/09/2003 00:00

Ex-CGEY

Hi Anon,

If you are interested in big IT or outsourcing projects, CGEY is a good place to go. If you are more interested in issue-based work, more realted to strategy, don't go to CGEY. This my introduction.

That said, I have worked five years with CGEY in strategy (Gemini Consulting before the merger). What I have noticed is the change before and after the merger. Before, the culture was quite opened, the opportunities to develop were numerous. Now, it more looks like you have to sell/sell/sell, no matter how and what. Your promotion depends on that.

Moreover, as each big company, there are a lot of procedures and the flexibility is limited, which you won't find in a small company.

I hope I have helped you.

Best regards

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#12 Re: Big or small firm?
02/09/2003 00:00

Kim

One additional thought. I think it's probably easier to get into a big firm when you're younger. If you join CGEY now you can always join a small firm later but I'm not sure the opposite approach would be possible. Even if you decide you don't like the culture of the large place you should get a lot of experience (both good and bad) which you can then capitalise upon.

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#13 Re: Big or small firm?
02/09/2003 00:00

anon

I speak from experience. I left CGEY this year after a number of years with Gemini Consulting / CGEY. They must be recruiting people because everyone has left. The people that were the real backbone of transformation consulting have all either gone on to pastures new or have been forced out because they tried to make a difference and spoke their mind. Go to CGEY if you fancy managing project plans, writing proposals and filling out forms - if they tell you any different they are not telling you the full story. CGEY is a sorry place full of bitter people (like me!) that will grind you down. Just to highlight this lets try a case study:

A large IT firm decides to merge with a large consultancy organisation and at the same time merge with its own smaller independent strategy/transformation consultancy. The smaller consultancy has around 300 staff in London earning fee rates McKinsey would be proud of. How would you go about it?

The actual answer is - Shut all offices in central London except one small dingy office in Soho across the road from Ann Summers and next to the girly bars. Alternatives include Woking or nice places like Aston where the more unfortunate have their cars stolen at gunpoint. Don't carry out any communication exercises whatsoever and completely ignore any suggestions made by anyone that is below Board level. Completely ignore Ts & Cs of staff and enforce CGEY Ts & Cs. Don't bother to learn anything about the business that you have bought and expect a management consultant with an MBA who a few months before was talking to CEOs to go and talk to IT middle mgt about their bespoke ERP systems. Have multiple rounds of redundancies where the format is 1) ask people to volunteer 2) turn down anyone who is good that has volunteered 3) sack everyone else 4) those that volunteered leave anyway. Tell everyone at the start of the year that there will be no bonuses or pay rises thus motivating them to stay.

CGEY is a horrible place. There are lots of merits in getting established in a big consultancy firm but don't do it there. They won't be getting in the door of my company.

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