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Choices - to follow the heart or the money?

 
#1 Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
08/11/2009 10:41

unsure

Guys,

Hoping you can give some advice/thoughts on a tough career decision.

I've been in consulting (Big 4) for over 9 years at the same firm, and now looking to move on. I've just been offered two positions which I need to decide by end of next week:

1. JOB A: is at a 2nd tier competitor offering a significantly larger salary package. They're a smaller practice, less prestigious, but still a well known firm with lots of opportunity for growth, professional development and promotion.

2. JOB B: Is my ideal job in terms of the role, type of work and environment which I've always been passionate about working in - it's my dream job. It's outside of consulting, but the work they do is amazing. But the pay is significantly lower - in fact 40% lower!!!, and opportunities for career progression are limited.

How do I decide? It basically boils down to finally working in an 'ideal job which I'm passionate about' versus 'lucrative salary and career progression'.

Other factors are that my partner and I don't have kids at the moment, but we are looking to buy property and settle down, so this is also a consideration.

Would love to gain some sincere advice.

Thanks.

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#2 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
08/11/2009 12:24

Bob to unsure (#1)

How many people get the chance to work in its dream job? Not many. Of course, salary must be taken into account, but as long as your dream job is stable enough and allows you to live without having to worry constantly about money, then go for it without a doubt.

It depends on what you value in life. But assuming that you spend 10+ hours at work everyday (which is about 60%-70% of your average day, as sleeping doesn't generally count!), doing something that you love would make you far happier than doing something that you "enjoy" (assuming that you enjoy consulting...which is rare) that gives you more money.

I took jobs that, although very well-paid, I did not particularly like. Later on I realized what was important for me and I am currently working outside consulting in a job that I love and were I earn around 50% of what I was earning before.

Obviously there is a trade-off here, but I'd much rather be happy than wealthy.

Bob

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#3 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
08/11/2009 16:42

Jellfish to Bob (#2)

If it was me then Job B every time (although I guess the ability to absorb a pay decrease depends on your circumstances such as dependant kids, etc.). If others are not heavily financially dependent on you, then I think you really need to take a very long hard look at yourself and your values if you are seriously agonising between the two. Perhaps you do really love money more than anything else in your life if it is causing you this much angst? (Sorry if that sounds harsh - but it is well meant)

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#4 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
08/11/2009 16:44

Jellfish to Jellfish (#3)

PS - if job A is with PA, then choose Job B!

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#5 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 12:57

Mars A Day to unsure (#1)

I'll go out on a limb here and assume you are not looking to leave your current role because you feel overpaid.

As attractive as Job B sounds, I would be cautious - what seems like a dream job may not be when you are actually doing it everyday: no matter how inspiring, creative etc the work is sooner or later it will become a routine. Can you accept that routine with a 40% pay cut and limited progression? Passion always turns into politics in the end. Job A seems to offer more in the longer term. And if you are thinking about settling down - children? - I anticipate your priorities will change in time and work will be important but less central to your life -i.e. an interesting and engaging way to pay for your life outside work, rather than the centre of your life which is where it probably is currently.

In my opinion, Job A wins.

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#6 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 13:14

teer to Mars A Day (#5)

by job A being with a 2nd tier, are you suggesting you work at the top tier?

Big 4 consulting is tier 3 of consulting, so perhaps job A is not as bad as you think.

reminder:

Tier 1: MBB

Tier 2: Booz, OW, Monitor, RB etc

Tier 3: Big 4

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#7 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 14:15

Middlecat to teer (#6)

I'm not convinced this grading is valid anymore. I think from your list, 1 and 2 can be merged, and the gap between 2 and 3 has become smaller.

Views?

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#8 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 14:31

Ve to Middlecat (#7)

Views? You are a bitter big4 process mapper.

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#9 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 15:11

Middlecat to Ve (#8)

Ve,

How is the View from up there you big, senior, important, unique, special consultant you!!!

MC

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#10 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 15:23

BIG 4 to Middlecat (#9)

I'M FROM THE BIG 4. BIG BY NAME, BIG BY NATURE. BIG BIG BIG. THAT'S US. BIG AND STRONG. BIG = BEST. WE'RE THE BIG BOYS. OH YEAH... BIG! But small weiners tho.

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#11 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 15:35

AlexanderMeerkat to unsure (#1)

After 9 years in consulting I would say B defo - good to have experience of something else, you can always make the move back into consulting later ...

only question is why such limited career progression opps in B ...

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#12 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 16:23

Bob to AlexanderMeerkat (#11)

Definately Job B. I just wish I could find such an ideal job. Imagine how nice it would be to go to work every day and enjoy it, feel passionate about it, and fulfilled at the end of it.

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#13 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 19:40

NonanF to Bob (#12)

Try to get more money from company B, at least what you're earning now. If that's not possible find job C that you like and where you get paid more.

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#14 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 21:10

Big Consultant to NonanF (#13)

teer,

What did you use to differentiate between Tier 2 and Tier 3? Pay? Career prospects?

Or are you just one of those suckers that think strategy is everything in consulting and if you are not doing it, then you are not a "real" consultant?

Yours sincerely,

Strategist at Investment Bank

(former CapG Consultant)

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#15 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
09/11/2009 23:10

teer to Big Consultant (#14)

as a former MBB myself, with tons of friends in firms of all tiers, the singlemost differentiating factor was education (more prestige than level) - certainly with MBB a top business school MBA was necessary.

there is a direct link, in general, between education prestige and pay scales - and I mean across industries (not just consulting).

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#16 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
10/11/2009 07:54

Big Consultant to teer (#15)

OK, I have to agree that you have a point there.

But I find that these top tier consultants hardly make much more money than the One-stop-shop firms but work under more miserable conditions.

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#17 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
10/11/2009 08:12

anon to Big Consultant (#16)

top tier strat ain't worth it. the hours and travel sucks.

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#18 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
11/11/2009 10:00

teer to anon (#17)

MBB don't pay over the odds for the extra hours and travelling relative to other consultancies because they see a value in their 'Brand'. Also, since demand for MBB places far outstrips supply, there's not a huge driver to pay enormous salaries.

So why would top tier grads go to MBB? 90% because of exit opportunities and 10% probably make it high enough up the career ladder to earn very well.

I have found that even the MBB who have moved on to Big 4 have ended up doing very well. I have to say that although the hours and travel did suck at MBB, it molds you in a certain way which really makes you stand out when you go to other consultancies.

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#19 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
11/11/2009 10:11

anon to teer (#18)

Hmm.

I still think MBB is over-rated as far as career progression goes. The brand is great, but who wants to set off down that path anyway? Living like a nomad ain't my idea of 'success'.

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#20 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
11/11/2009 16:21

teer to anon (#19)

MBB may be over-rated, but the fact is that being from MBB you have higher probability of going futher in terms of position etc (many go on to become C-suite material).

For every person who'd have an 'easy' lifestyle, there are tons of others who would do anything (e.g. going nomadic) to earn that little extra. This is a facet of capitalism!

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#21 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
11/11/2009 17:24

Anonimator to unsure (#1)

Unsure

Firstly, Isn't it nice when people hijack your post for some ego based status chain !

Secondly, 40% is a big drop in salary but would job B offer you the opportunities to do something else to supliment your income ?

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#22 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
11/11/2009 22:55

anon to Anonimator (#21)

To all those who think MBB are so different from Big 4 etc, how come here at Acn there are quite a few ex employees of these firms?! Don't believe the hype.

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#23 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
12/11/2009 09:06

M to unsure (#1)

The thing that would concern me about option 2 is the potentially limited career progression.

Even if this is your dream job, can you see yourself doing the same thing with little prospect for promotion? That would completely negate the benefits to me but then our priorities probably differ.

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#24 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
12/11/2009 11:27

teer to M (#23)

to the post 2 places above - yes many MBB's do go to Big 4's. And in my experience they do extremely well (granted there are some who don't quite adjust). You will find a lot of partners at Big 4 are ex-MBB - and outside of work they float with the same crowd.

Just so you know, I went from Big 4 to MBB and then back to Big 4, so done the whole circle!

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#25 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
18/11/2009 12:55

unsure to M (#23)

Guys,

Thanks very much for all your input and advice, and apologies for not responding earlier (tied up at work).

Unfortunately I'm no closer to deciding, but have arranged an informal chat with the department heads in each organisation to get a better idea of the culture, work environment, career models etc.

But to give a bit more clarity and perspective on my situation, I took up a redundancy with a Big 4 so happy to be moving on.

JOB A - Is with the consulting arm of one of the big Indian outfits. Salary and benefits is £100K, and with performance bonus goes can go up to £115K. Well defined career structure, lots of hard work, but typical consulting/SI work, slight step down in prestige but comparable salary.

JOB B - Is with a creative media agency. Large within the industry, but small compared to the SI's/Consulting. Pay is £70K. Size is 400 staff in London, very funky and cool, but career progression/path is not well defined.

I'm looking to settle down with my partner and buy a property next year, hopefully get married and have kids.

So it boils down to comprises. I'd love to follow my dream job (granted after a few months the shine and glitter may start to dim as with all jobs). I'm not money hungry, but taking a pay cut may mean settling for a 2BR apartment instead of of 3BR house, a Ford instead of a Beamer, and sending my kids to public school instead of private, and taking less exotic holidays each year.

On the other hand, I guess if financial commitments become more of a priority afterwards, I could always look to move back to consulting after a few years. But then I would have lost that momentum in terms of career progression, and I'm not sure if coming back into consulting may be harder given I've been on a lower salary in smaller firm.

Anyway... sorry for ranting. I'll let you know which way I decide over the next week. And maybe post whether it was the right decision or not a few months later.

Thanks for the advice, and I still welcome any other feedback before I accept either offer.

Unsure (but hopefully not for long).

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#26 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
18/11/2009 13:59

DCF to unsure (#25)

Take Job B. The salary is sufficient to enjoy a reasonable family life in London (housing, non-disastrous states schools), if you take a bit of care choosing where you live.

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#27 RE: Choices - to follow the heart or the money?
18/11/2009 16:42

slacker to DCF (#26)

Yes – take job B. The after tax difference between 70K and 115K (assuming you get your max bonus every year – how likely is that?) is about 27K. That’s a reasonable amount of cash, but is it enough to pay for an extra bedroom, a garden, a beamer instead of a ford, a long haul holiday instead of a european one, AND school fees for the 2 kids you’re planning to have?

Also – if you go down Job A route once you commit to the bigger house and (particularly) the school fees, you pretty much have to keep to that route until your as-yet-not-born children are out of full-time education (20 years, dude!). Yes, you can change your mind, but that would mean hauling your kids out of private school and down-sizing the house – what a waste the intervening years would have been!

Don’t get me wrong – go for the cash if you want to – but don’t make yourself hostage to a life of sh*t for a family and a house you don’t even have yet! If you do take the job, hoard that 27K away for the first 2 or 3 years. How different would you life be with 90k under your mattress?

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