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breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta

#1 breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
09/01/2013 02:06


Dear wise ones,

I have a month to make a life-changing decision and would greatly appreciate your opinion.


I received a scholarship (200,000 British pounds) from my government for my undergraduate studies and as part of this contract, I am bonded to work as a researcher in our local university for 10 years.

At the end of my PhD, I knew that I did not want to pursue the research path and found myself more drawn towards the business aspect so I had applied for management consultancy. To my delight, I received the two offers from LEK and BCG Jakarta.

Problem: However, I now face the decision of either paying off the 200,000 pounds and taking the job offer or staying in my government job, which is a stable job and not paying off the scholarship bond.


a) Thinking objectively, do I have the capability of paying off that amount of money? Obviously I do not, and for my family, it would really stretch them financially and realistically, I would have to take out a loan for what's left and also pay them back over the years.

b) Is the management consultancy job worth it financially and also in terms of career progression? This is where I really hope you can give me some input on.

Financially, the LEK London job pays 37,000 pounds p.a. and living in London, it would be very difficult to save enough. The BCG Jakarta job pays slightly more, depending on the volatility of the exchange rate but I would be able to save more.

In terms of career prospects, many people I have spoken to leave MC after 1-2 years. To be honest, I see myself leaving after 2 years also, but my question of course is to what? What are the exit options available to people who leave MC? Which company would give me the best range of exit options? LEK (London) would be as part of the life sciences team while BCG Jakarta would be based on the types of industries in Indonesia.

Thank you very much for your helpful comments, greatly appreciate it.

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#2 RE: breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
09/01/2013 13:37

Anon66 to gettingthere (#1)

This is a very tough question. How did you manage to blow £200k on undergraduate studies anyhow? How did this appear like a good idea at the time? Spilled milk, I guess.

I do not see this as a consulting question whatsoever. I actually see it as two different but related issues:

(a) The "Strategic" Question

- Ten years is a long time to do something you do not want to do

- I assume the bond penalties are similarly severe if you quit now to if you quit five years in

- In your youth you have the greatest capacity to learn; hunger for success and capacity to change jobs

- You live once - and losing 25-33% of your career on something you do not want to do is a tough pill to swallow

- Nevertheless, you need to be sure: if you do leave MC in 1-2 years and don't know what to do after, consider approaching the government funder to agree the leave on a temporary basis rather than deciding after that you want to re-enter academia

- In conclusion, if you have truly decided that the local university is not for you in the long term, and done all reasonable due diligence, I see it as wise to move

(b) The "Funding" Question

- Only now you have decided where to go should you think about funding it

- £200k is a massive loan. Not large enough for you to lose your freedom, but you are right to worry about fixing this

- First off, what are your options around structuring? If you can get a low interest rate over a long period of time this will ease the pressure to look at $. I am guessing bankruptcy is not an option!

- As pressure will be highest on you at the start of your career (ie when you earn least), what amount of money would you need to hold back in order to pay the interest? This might force your hand towards BCG on the basis of cash generation alone (though I would instinctively chose BCG anyway)

- Can you negotiate a higher salary? In many offices PhDs enter BCG as Junior Consultant with a higher salary than UG you seem to quote. Is this possible?

- If you stay on the consulting career track and you perform, you should be fine. 3-4 years in you will be on 70k+ base as a Consultant with a hefty bonus that could take you up to 90k+ (approx UK salaries).

- If you leave you will have great opportunities at similar salary points but you must want them. ie. A move to PE, finance or many corporate roles could match your salary - but obviously if you decide to move in a random tangent eg government work, you may struggle to meet that...

I hope this helps and is non-obvious. Interesting to see what other people think...

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#3 RE: breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
09/01/2013 15:20

UKCONTRACTOR to Anon66 (#2)

- I would assume £200K loan was for your undergraduate as well as PHD i.e. 7 years of tution fees and living expenses?

- if you knew from the outset that research route was not something you would enjoy then a) why did you blow up £200K on doing your undergrad and PHD b) why did you not work (20 hours per week) with your could have got £50K in your pocket already to repay part of £200K...

To me your post sound like a troll...but anyhow... here is what you should do....

- I don't think you should go back and do something you don't want to do for next 10 years!!

Why not go back and don't do anything and eventually get fired....that way you have nothing to can then join consultancy or whatever you feel like...

You will not have to pay £200K and also you will be getting paid for the period you will not be performing and awaiting to get fired!!

If you don't think above is serious option (though I am serious) then do think £200K is serious money!!with £37K starting will take you 8-10 years to save that much sum!!

Get a life mate......

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#4 RE: breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
09/01/2013 15:48

marsday to gettingthere (#1)

A took a couple of attemps to answer this. I gave up. Assuming this isnt a troll (which surely it must be) then you are a spoiled, undeserving brat.

Join LEK or BCG by all means. Both great firms. Imagine their faces when they learn you accepted what amounts to a mortgage to blow it all in a few years and then have decided you want to renege on what the money was paid for. If you think a 200K contract is worthless what is a 37K contract worth?

Switch on the sodding TV or read a newspaper. There are families here in the UK where the parents skip meals to feed their children and you come on here posting this bs.

Everyone else on here - apologies I am losing my cool with this one.

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#5 RE: breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
09/01/2013 16:14

baykus to gettingthere (#1)

BAs who go to get MBAs funded by their firms renege and pay back all the time, so I don't have a problem in general with reassessing your direction in life even if it means burning a few bridges.

Where I do have a problem is the following:

- Everybody for some reason think consulting is some kind of magic wonderland. How do you know this is something you really want to do?

- How would you justify putting your family under this kind of pressure?

- You were awarded a scholarship with the expectation that you would give back to your country. Having seen how scholarships can transform people's lives, I find your reneging morally questionable. Someone else could have taken that scholarship and built a good research career out of it. You are screwing that other someone and your country over.

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#6 RE: breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
09/01/2013 17:24

Anon66 to baykus (#5)

Assuming this isn't a troll, I am a little ashamed about how harsh we are being. Lending a kid under the age of eighteen money with a NINETEEN year commitment (ie university + a decade of labour) is not a commercial transaction. It is a highly exploitative one. ie His country screwed him over, not the other way round

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#7 RE: breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
09/01/2013 17:43

baykus to Anon66 (#6)

First of all, he says the 200k was for his undergraduate studies, so it's ~4 years. I can only assume this was a top-uni US education, can't see how it can cost that much otherwise.

Second, the undergrad degree was the carrot at the end of the stick so the commitment is only 10 years. I agree that 10 years is long, but he will be paying off 20k+ / year by taking the uni deal (plus whatever salary he gets). To many people in the world that's a great deal.

My points stand:

- This will be a great financial burden for his family

- If he didn't want to repay, he should have let someone else get the grant. There are thousands of people who will never be able to afford such an education and would have killed for the chance.

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#8 RE: breaking govt bond (200,000 pounds) vs LEK London vs BCG Jakarta
10/01/2013 09:23

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to baykus (#7)

Come on, didn't alarm bells start ringing when they paid you TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS??? Surely it made you think about why they're paying it to you?

So, basically you cashed in early and now you're lumbered with following through. Just like George Michael when he wanted out of his contract with Sony. LOL.

Besides, it's not so bad, right? Just take it easy for the next 10 years. Put your feet up and act like an employee of a local authority (i.e. 30 mins worth of work per day, in between coffee breaks and long lunches).

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