Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Classic Consulting Quotes (Chapter 4, Part II)

[Scene: Open workspace at the firm's* office.]


Timmy, the 21-year old analyst from Carnegie Mellon, has nearly exhausted his list of resumes to call.  He's absolutely hammered the sales and marketing division of a particular CPG all week, calling ex and current employees in his quest to dig up the competitive intelligence information the engagement manager has asked him to collect.

Timmy's phone rings.

Timmy: "Hello?  Yes, this is Timmy, from [consulting firm]."

I hear a stammering conversation, with lots of Timmy's comments being cut off in mid sentence.  Is it the IRS?  An ex-girlfriend?  What's happening?  My mind drifts from my excel model to listen in.

Timmy:  "My boss?  His name is Bob Johnson, his number is 212.555.1212."


Timmy calls Bob Johnson, his manager.  As I, and others in the office listen in, it becomes clear what has happened.  Timmy's exuberant calling of dozens of currently employed people in the sales organization of a major CPG has been detected.  People at the target firm starting talking to each other, recognizing that they were being probed, and raised the issue to management.  Timmy had given his number out to at least 1 person. 

The just finished phone call had come from the target firm's divisional VP, who began interrogating Timmy on who he was working for, what he was doing, and if he knew what kind of trouble he was in.

Poor Timmy, who was just following directions from his engagement manager, was ashen-faced as he got off the phone with his boss.

Suzie, a 22-year old analyst from Cal-Berkeley, came by to offer her consolation.

Timmy:  "I'm worried that I'm in big trouble."

Suzie:  "Don't worry, you're not at fault here.  It's not your fault for asking questions; it's their fault for answering them."

* True quote, from from a previous life and firm.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008