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PA Consulting or ARM?

 
#1 PA Consulting or ARM?
21/01/2016 00:05

EternalGrad

Hi! Wondering if anyone hear can pass on any wisdom to a recent graduate looking at starting a career.

Having graduated I've been very fortunate and have been offered a few graduate jobs - I've narrowed my decision down to two, but am having a lot of trouble deciding between them!

The first is working with ARM Holdings in Cambridge in their PMO. ARM do really fantastically on glassdoor and employee satisfaction surveys, but I worry that working in a PMO as a first job might not be the best idea. Perhaps if I want to move on afterwards, I won't have any 'real' experiences to talk about, as instead of actually managing projects I've been thinking about how they are managed. Does anyone have thoughts on working in a PMO as a first job? Any thoughts on ARM?

The second job is with PA Consulting as an IT Transformation Analyst in London. I was originally really excited about this position, but have seen some really mixed reviews about working at PA - in particular some very worrying accounts from a few years ago on these forums. What are people's thoughts on PA now? I wonder if since the CEO and COO have changed, and that they've recently been bought over by Carlyle, things might be looking up? Perhaps PA of today and a few years ago are very different? Everyone I've met seems really nice, and they seem to be genuinely interesting work!

If you were in my position - which would you take as a first job?

Thanks!

P.S. I really really want to work in London and that is definitely clouding my judgement.

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#2 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
21/01/2016 10:57

Frio to EternalGrad (#1)

I'd ask them.

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#3 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
21/01/2016 14:56

Mr Cool to EternalGrad (#1)

Take the PA role,

I think you are being very perceptive in your assessment of a PMO role. It may sound on paper like you would get a very broad exposure to lots of different projects and clients, but you will almost certainly be a spectator rather than being at the coal face. The last thing a graduate entrant needs is more learning from 100 yards away; you need to get to the coal face and earn some scars. In an analyst position you are much more likely to do that.

A few years ago there was a lot of anti-PA rhetoric on this forum, most of it fueled by ex-PAers who had been badly treated (at least in their own minds). At the time there was no requirement to register to use the forum - you just posted and most posters did so under the name "anon".

It was frankly a LOT more fun, but admittedly it was the defamation Wild West at times. Sadly Tony decided he liked staying out of prison more than he liked reading our hilarious witty banter.

It's important context because the feel of the forum was different. Lots of posters of negative views would have no true experience of PA but would love winding up the PA management and trolling the day away.

PA was a very successful firm and I personally knew some excellent consultants there. At some point it got too reliant on dull public sector work which all of a sudden went away. Lots of sad and angry partners then turned it into a bad place to work and both forced and voluntary attrition was very high.

It's all a long time ago and not a valid way to assess the firm today.

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#4 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
21/01/2016 19:53

Ronin to Mr Cool (#3)

+ 1 to Mr Cool

The opportunity cost of missing out from real action (especially in early stages of career) can work against you when you want to move on to other roles (as people pay for experience).

Also, PMO can be one of the titles that can get you pigeonholed / stereotyped for the next roles. Nothing wrong with the work it does, it's just you don't come across as someone with burning desire to churn out metrics and beat people around with their plans and risk&issues. Instead, diving into action and learning by doing can be a better option for your stage of career.

If you pick the 'IT Transformation' role, you can also come back to the forums saying 'Actually I always wanted management consulting but xxx...' :)

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#5 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
24/01/2016 10:20

EarlyDoors to EternalGrad (#1)

Hi

PA Consulting has a decent graduate programme and will give you the chance to gain a far broader set of experiences. Some might be PMO, but that is useful anyway. It just gets a bit dull v quickly if that is all you do.

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#6 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
26/01/2016 11:34

marsday to EternalGrad (#1)

I really really want to work in London and that is definitely clouding my judgement.

No it's not. You've made the decision already - PA, in London. Are you the sort to spend 30 mins narrowing down a menu before ordering what you had last time? PMO in Cambs versus something approaching real work where you want it. And as Cool has said, PA isn't the hole it used to be.

Besides, in two years you'll be leaving PA anyway, probably to go to Big 4 or Accenture so what does it matter?

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#7 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
26/01/2016 12:08

Frio to marsday (#6)

Marsday, you'll know better than me but the compensation at PA seems better than the Big 4. At PA you have an opportunity (below Partner) to "own" part of the business through either contributions or as elements of a bonus. Cash bonuses seem to be higher than the Big 4 as well.

Is the work that PA really that different to the Big 4? I get the sense they do more body-shopping but actually I've seen EY do more and more of this as the market has become harder and utilisation has dropped.

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#8 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
26/01/2016 12:41

marsday to deleted (#0)

Marsday, you'll know better than me but the compensation at PA seems better than the Big 4. At PA you have an opportunity (below Partner) to "own" part of the business through either contributions or as elements of a bonus. Cash bonuses seem to be higher than the Big 4 as well.

Is the work that PA really that different to the Big 4? I get the sense they do more body-shopping but actually I've seen EY do more and more of this as the market has become harder and utilisation has dropped.

All great points Frio - for an experienced hire. But for a grad entrant, a move after completing the scheme is almost essential for the OP to shake off the 'graduate' tag and start building peer networks. Hence the comment about the move. If the OP was joining Big 4, I would probably say a move to PA et al should be on the cards 2 years in.

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#9 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
26/01/2016 13:48

Frio to marsday (#8)

Thanks Mars, agreed.

I'm currently looking at PA, but becoming increasingly convinced a move back to industry is preferable.

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#10 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
26/01/2016 16:26

marsday to Frio (#9)

Carlyle...an LBO PE owning a big chunk of PA. So PA can only bodyshop up to a point, especially with the floor falling out of public sector spending, so where will new revenue streams come from? Cut costs? Well that means cut people in consulting. Push utilisation to create an attractive contract balance sheet and sell it on? Or look for something else to acquire and merge them for cost efficiencies?

I'm not discounting PA for experienced hires. I just don't think they will continue in their current iteration for the medium term.

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#11 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
04/02/2016 13:39

Yo__Ho to marsday (#10)

What would the judgement be if it was Big 4 (KPMG in particular) vs PA Consulting? I am a grad student and I have the choice between the following:

1. PA Consulting - Technology Strategy;

2. KPMG - Financial Services Strategy.

I like both FS and Technology, so choosing is quite hard. I am not sure which firm is generally seen as better, which one has better exit opps and the overall prestige of the work that they do. I also don't know what to think about Carlyle taking over PA, which could mean a BAH scenario where they'll focus more on the public sector. However, it could also go the other way. KPMG is a Big 4 firm, but the consulting branche is nothing like PwC and Deloitte, so I don't know how much of the Big 4 benefits I would get when joining them.

What would you do as a grad student?

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#12 RE: PA Consulting or ARM?
04/02/2016 14:58

Camster to EternalGrad (#1)

ARM is a tech company. This is a very good company to have on your CV. Opens doors to Google, FB, Apple, etc. For instance, at Google, you can be PM on some really interesting projects. Also, you don't have to pigeon-hole yourself doing PM.

If MBB, I'd advise MBB. But PA is no MBB. Don't get me wrong. PA can lead you to Big 4, etc. But PA's standing in the consulting world is not as good as ARM's in the tech world.

You firstly need to decide what you actually want to do.

Anyway... this is how I see it.

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