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looking for an exit

#1 looking for an exit
30/05/2016 15:10


Hi I work at a fairly small boutique strategy consultancy ~60 employees. I've been doing it for around 2 years and am now worn out by it. What are some common exit options for someone at this level?

I know that I don't want to work in consultancy anymore as the work life balance is simply not for me - I'm looking for less hours, lower stress and am happy to take a salary cut. My personal life has suffered - I hardly spend anytime with my girlfriend or family and I have put on a lot of weight and other health issues since I started.

Anyone else ever been in this situation and wanted to exit with around 2yrs level of experience?

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#2 RE: looking for an exit
30/05/2016 17:02

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to greenbanana (#1)


What sort of hours are you working?

I really want to say "just leave the office earlier" but I know it's not so easy in some environments.

Tell us what it is that you find stressful?

For me, years ago, what I found stressful was being surrounded by people who were so so slow at everything they did and feeling that constant pressure to do exceptional work and be absolutely perfect at everything, there was just no sense of sustainability in it whatsoever.

I've seen people typing away on their laptop at 10pm, except the whole office is doing internet shopping and sending personal emails. People disappearing for "meetings" at 7pm, except they're filling in time by getting down to the gym.

Ive experienced keyfob controlled doors and the knowledge that someone somewhere in the firm is keeping an eye on what time you check out every day and how long you spend on the 6th floor where the showers and lockers are (tranquil little haven that it is). Being on the bench for a month but still being expected to stay in the office until 9pm each day. Having to look like you're working flat out - ALL the time. Having a desk that faces a wall and people constantly walking behind you. Drinks trolleys at 7pm on a Friday, just in case you plan on making an escape. Appraisals being done every 3 months, lest you get too cosy in a routine. Dreading your next call from HR, lest you get posted on a project a million miles away from home. Panicking because the partner in charge wants to meet the project team at 3pm on a Friday (say goodbye to the weekend again). Watching client staff go home at 4.55pm in the knowledge that you still have another 7 hours left to work. Spending 20 mins taking a dump and thinking of it being a bit like a holiday. Hearing about your senior colleagues buying their new £60,000 Porsche or 3rd home while breaking into your savings just to get the boiler serviced in your crummy little dingey hovel of a flat. Not knowing whether you'll be "upped and outed" this year and getting IBS as a result. Being "mentored" or "supervised" by someone 2 years older than yourself, who takes it all very very seriously. Wearing a suit and tie for 14 hours a day when everyone outside is wearing normal clothes. Working in a bland office with literally no visual stimulation. Eating overpriced sandwiches every day at your desk. Not really ever knowing who your boss is. Being worked into the ground by the client. Feeling that you're missing out on life.

You're not the only one that's been there.

Be detailed and descriptive in your reply, we might be able to help.

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#3 RE: looking for an exit
31/05/2016 13:58

marsday to greenbanana (#1)

Renton (of Trainspotting infamy) nails this one, and I quote:

I fantasize about a massive pristine convenience. Brilliant gold taps, virginal white marble, a seat carved from ebony, a cistern full of Chanel no.5, and a flunky handing me pieces of raw silk toilet roll. But under the circumstances I'll settle for anywhere.

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#4 RE: looking for an exit
01/06/2016 01:49

greenbanana to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#2)

Thank you for your reply. I can tick off having experienced about 99% of what you listed.

Outside work friends have said things like "why dont you just leave, nobody we know does hours like that except bankers and they get properly rewarded". I dismissed that to start with but now I see what they mean.

It's not all bad - I can see why some people like it - there is some thrill to parts of the work and you feel like you're riding the express train on your career while other people in other lines of work are on the delayed service! I also count myself lucky to be in the job, especially when I see the endless stream of applications, stack of CVs, the ever more competitive applicants, their desperation and longing to get into consulting - but another part of me pities them because they don't know what they're signing up for.

I work at least 60 hours per week and it can regularly go up to 75 in busy periods. I know that's probably about average in consulting. I have had several occasions where I’ve been in the office on a Friday night until 10am Saturday morning.

In terms of stress – you’re constantly expected to give it 120% which is fine for periods but you cant keep that up long term. My senior manager has the worst temper I have ever seen everybody in the office, even some fairly senior staff just take it and look miserable. The environment is far from collaborative – everyone tries to subtly stand on each other to make themselves look good in the eyes of the boss.

Certainly feel like I’m missing out on life.

I would like to go into something where there is enough time to think about hobbies or starting a business – but I guess we all do.

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#5 RE: looking for an exit
02/06/2016 07:53

Tony Restell ( to greenbanana (#4)

I feel for you. One suggestion from my side would be to see if you can get an extended period of leave. It's hard to take rational decisions when you're in the heat of things, so you'll likely make a better long term life choice if you can buy yourself some thinking time to do so.

A consultancy will not want to lose someone if they can avoid it. The cost of replacing you - and the lost billings they'll face while they do so - mean firms will usually be pretty accommodating if they think that doing so increases the likelihood of you not leaving. What do you have to lose by asking?

One suggestion would be to look at contracting. Lots of consultants in your position have switched to contracting and then work for only 2/3 of the year with higher remuneration to boot. Still hard work for that 2/3 of the year, but you don't have the politics of doing "face hours" and always have the option of choosing to work less of the year. Plus that 1/3 of a year to spend the way you want to makes up for the longer hours and stress when you are working.

Hope the input here is helping - and all the best.


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