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Where next??

 
#1 Where next??
24/04/2013 22:46

CuriousSoul

Hi,

I have 3.5 years experience working in Operations consulting at a big 4. I am CIMA qualified and have a lot of operational change and lean experience (am a part qualified practitioner from the European centre of excellence for lean)

Just wondering what my options are for leaving. I am starting to grow disillusioned with the politics and crappy roles and also feel I could earn more £££ elsewhere with a greater/ quicker progression.

My background is FS (banking) and would be interested in a role industry so long as it was front office.

Your thoughts, help and guidance would be much appreciated.

Thanks

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#2 RE: Where next??
25/04/2013 07:37

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to CuriousSoul (#1)

Why not join a large hedge fund as a fund manager?

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#3 RE: Where next??
25/04/2013 08:21

marsday to CuriousSoul (#1)

Front office?

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#4 RE: Where next??
25/04/2013 09:13

Mr Cool to marsday (#3)

I think there is a collective impression that your experience and strengths (as you yourself descibe them) don't really have any connection to front office work. I may be wrong, but "leaning" operations sounds about as back office as one could get?

If you truly want a "front office" job - I presume you mean sales/client contact/relationship management/pitching ideas/etc - then I'd say your biggest asset is that you only have 3.5 years of experience, so its not that much to rip up and start again.

I'm not being facetious. Lots of people get to your current level of realisation after 15 years and by that time they simply cannot afford to make a change (salary/mortgage/status/etc) so live an unhappy life.

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#5 RE: Where next??
25/04/2013 09:42

tom1 to CuriousSoul (#1)

If you want to stay in Consulting and feel like you make more of a difference you could join one of the boutiques?

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#6 RE: Where next??
25/04/2013 11:43

Anon MCs to CuriousSoul (#1)

"...I am starting to grow disillusioned with the politics and crappy roles and also feel I could earn more £££ elsewhere with a greater/ quicker progression..."

Remember that most if not all management consultancies involve a huge amount of politics and doing client roles in whatever way they are needed. Moving to another MC will not solve this for you.

If this indeed is your core issue, then I suggest you look to go into a role where you are more of an accountant than anything else. It would bore the heck out of most of us, but it means politics is at a minimum and you can concentrate on number crunching.

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#7 RE: Where next??
26/04/2013 21:19

Hypothesis-driven to Anon MCs (#6)

CuriousSoul,

To summarize the key take-aways:

- a role focused on "front office" issues is possible but you will need to start from scratch

- try a smaller outfit that might be willing to train you and take a risk

- don't kid yourself that politics is absent at other consulting firms and industry corporates (it exists everywhere)

Also, I should point out that you expressed a desire to get more money and quicker career progression, but typically firms don't give you that when you lack differentiated skill/experience (i.e., "front office" exposure). In your case, you're more likely to progress faster with more money at a boutique that specializes in lean operations / back office topics.

One more thing, stop using terms like "front office" when applying to firms that focus on marketing and sales... it makes you sound like some IT / finance pencil-pusher sitting in the back office.

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#8 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 12:37

Charliefleabag to CuriousSoul (#1)

Do you mean you currently work in a back office but want to work in a front office environment? Ops tends to sit in the back office. Front office also normally means customer-facing stuff (e.g. sales, trading) which is very different from accounting and ops.

Also, I rarely meet any big consultancies in the front office space - they tend to sit in the back office (e.g. big accounting/ERP implementation, compliance, etc.).

Can you clarify what you are looking for?

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#9 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 13:12

Mr Cool to Charliefleabag (#8)

Look its really very simple.....

He's spent the last few years working in the back office, but he's always wanted to work in the front office. He's had a go at getting to the front office through what he assumed was the middle office, but has in fact turned out to be a corridor. He's reticent to let go of the door in case it locks behind him. If he does that and then finds his pass won't let him into the front office, then he'll be stuck in the corridor and will have to try and get out of the building via the fire escape.

Or something like that...

Besides which, he's posted and scarpered...

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#10 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 13:18

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Mr Cool (#9)

I think he just heard the phrase "front office" somewhere and wants to be the next Gordon Gekko

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#11 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 13:22

Mr Cool to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#10)

Better the front orifice to the back orifice...

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#12 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 13:25

marsday to Mr Cool (#11)

Sadly when you work in recruitment it become hard to differentiate what is coming out of which.

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#13 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 13:30

marsday to Mr Cool (#9)

Look its really very simple.....

He's spent the last few years working in the back office, but he's always wanted to work in the front office. He's had a go at getting to the front office through what he assumed was the middle office, but has in fact turned out to be a corridor. He's reticent to let go of the door in case it locks behind him. If he does that and then finds his pass won't let him into the front office, then he'll be stuck in the corridor and will have to try and get out of the building via the fire escape.

Or something like that...

Besides which, he's posted and scarpered...

It could be even more simple...

Rather than stress and fret over getting to front office, just turn everyones desks round so they are facing the other way. Now your previously back office desk is in the front office.

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#14 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 15:14

Management_Ignored to marsday (#13)

Rather than stress and fret over getting to front office, just turn everyones desks round so they are facing the other way.

We turned around a desk at our (public sector) client. Lead to a programme wide email on health and safety in the workplace (moving desks was a focus) and a team of two brought in to assess the safety of the new desk layout.

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#15 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 17:51

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Management_Ignored (#14)

Did it take 3 years and cost £40M? IF not, then it's not true public sector.

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#16 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 17:57

marsday to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#15)

We tried hot desking here. It didnt work because I didnt think any of them were particularly attractive.

Im assuming what I saw was colleagues repeatedly pushing desks into new positions..

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#17 RE: Where next??
02/05/2013 18:11

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to marsday (#16)

Gotta love hot desks. Nothing better than having to scoop up all your stuff at the end of every evening and cram it into a little locker.

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#18 RE: Where next??
03/05/2013 10:23

Management_Ignored to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#15)

Did it take 3 years and cost £40M? IF not, then it's not true public sector.

I guess it's not true public sector :(

They didn't move the desk back however as that would have cost £5k - s a private contractor would have to come in on double time over a weekend to move the desk (so as not to disrupt the working day, obviously) he would need to be accompanied by a member of staff, so overtime/time in liue and a H&S assessment would need to be carried out before it happened.

Although since then, we have moved to "team hotdesking", a fantastic concept of hot desking within a certain area. What's great about it is each time is given a number of hot desks equal to the number of team members, so we get to hot desk in the same desk every day.

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#19 RE: Where next??
08/05/2013 23:28

CuriousSoul to Mr Cool (#4)

Sorry for the delayed response, was enjoying fairer shores.

In response to mr cool. When I say front office, I mean continuing to engage and interact with clients as opposed to staying in the same place facing off against the internal workings of the company.

Front office is just an option should I consider going into industry. It may be that my best bet would be to move to a boutique of some description.

My long long term aim to to work on PE house turnaround deals and have had a few brief meetings with contacts in the field all of whom have, understandably, said I need as much experience as I can get.

Also, my politics point is referring to the internal workings at the Big 4 I am at. It seems that you must be on the project or working with the client that the partner in charge of promotions gets his nome from to stand a chance of being recognised. Yes, I understand that the personal brand is important and it is something I have built up so I am we'll known outside of my dept and of consulting. However, to me it appears that the extent of ones profile is the main driving force behind anything.

Is this the same at smaller boutique firms?

A final question would also be what other industries/ careers are available?

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#20 RE: Where next??
09/05/2013 12:39

Charliefleabag to CuriousSoul (#19)

Getting into PE is hard. Typically you should get some experience at an investment bank, working as an analyst or senior analyst and you will have worked on deals. An MBA would also help.

If recruited, you would be employed as an associate then you can forget about any work-life balance for a few years.

The PE sector is not that big and PE backed turnaround specialists are thin on the ground.

I think with your background, it would be difficult if not impossible to find a PE role.

One option may be to try a turnaround consultancy such as Alvarez and Marsal but without any sales experience I feel you will be doomed to an analyst role.

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#21 RE: Where next??
09/05/2013 14:09

marsday to Charliefleabag (#20)

Hard would be an understatement. I dont think CuriousSoul appreciates just how elitist PE is, even more so than MBB. It is now one out one in, and as longevity in PE houses is considerably longer than IB, the main feeder industry for PE, there is a glut of experienced Associates in IBs looking to make that move. It's a jump for MBB candidates let alone someone with 3 years Big 4 ops experience.

Restructuring/Turnaround is a little different - as Charlie mentioned you could consider specialist firms like A&M, or of course there is Alix, Zolfo, Huron, Horvath, Roland Berger etc, and all the Big 4 have restructuring practices. What you are really targetting is operational improvement within a PE portfolio - and that, frankly - is different stuff to actually working at a PE house. They will use firms like Alvarez, but also alot of contractors. PE firms want results now. Right now. They are demanding task masters, and you'll need a lot more experience to handle those kinds of stakeholders and get the results they are demanding.

I suggest get talking to some of the smaller consulting firms where you will get more project visibility, shorter reporting lines, and perhaps more meaningful and personally rewarding work. Big 4 is a great start but you need to be careful where you land next.

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#22 RE: Where next??
15/05/2013 14:30

CuriousSoul to marsday (#21)

Thanks Marsday and Charlie

Think you have nailed on the head re. PE. At a later stage in my career I would probably me more interested in moving into the investment/ buy out side of PE, but my interest at the moment resides primarily in the rapid turnaround sphere.

Do you know of any recruiters that work with turnaround consultancies?

Regarding the smaller firms, what would be your recommendation. I get contacted and see the same firms all the time - BCS, Moorhouse, Alpha Financial etc but it is difficult to really understand what makes one better than the other and which would be a forward as opposed to a lateral, or worse, backward step in terms of reputation.

Like you say, where you land next is important!

Thanks

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#23 RE: Where next??
15/05/2013 14:35

tom1 to CuriousSoul (#22)

Separate to the advice that others will share on particular companies. I'd suggest you reach out to them all and make your own decision (obviously back this up with any opinions you get - positive and negative!).

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#24 RE: Where next??
15/05/2013 14:54

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to tom1 (#23)

just go with the one that pays you the most for the shortest hours lol

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#25 RE: Where next??
15/05/2013 20:14

Charliefleabag to CuriousSoul (#22)

I have never heard of a recruitment firm that specialises in the turnaround sector. I have seen a few job ads from some of the bigger names mentioned in places like exec-appointments. For senior roles they either go direct or use headhunters.

I think Mars' suggestion to approach smaller consultancies is good advice.

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#26 RE: Where next??
17/05/2013 08:01

marsday to Charliefleabag (#25)

Hard to point to an actual turnaround 'sector' - which is why I guess no HH has really built a name there. It's a combo of skils - whether restructuring work and all the cash flow, WCM, financial modelling stuff, or performance improvment work to cut opex, expand margins (which could be pricing, could be overheads reductions, could be inventory etc) and improving sales - perhaps through portfolio reduction, internal sales training or whatever.

Curious what a PE firm will be looking for is functional breadth - you'll need to be able to spot the quick wins in a portfolio company and design cost effective, quick projects which will have a short term impact in PnL. Frustratingly this runs counter-intuitive to the development curve in consulting, where you gain specialism and depth as you reach the seniority they will expect.

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#27 RE: Where next??
17/05/2013 16:43

Charliefleabag to marsday (#26)

I guess it depends what you mean by turnaround. When a PE firm buys a company it has an exit strategy in mind (normally up to 5 years, maybe more). Post acquisition, it will try to maximise the perceived value by slapping down any new projects and ripping the heart out of ops to increase margins.

I may sound cynical but I have experienced this directly where I was parachuted in as an interim IT director after a company had bought a PE backed firm and not done its due diligence properly. The place was an absolute shambles.

One of my current customers (a privately owned bank) has just had 25% of its IT staff cut after an "investment" from a PE firm (and I now have to find work for 23 consultants). Morale in the bank is now rock-bottom.

I personally would hate to work in this sector as it is all about short-term gain at the expense of building sustainable companies.

Or maybe I am just upset at losing the revenue from 23 consultants.....

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