Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

"...I decided to end it all. The prospect of wasting my youth (and the rest of my life) doing something utterly meaningless that makes no positive tangible difference to anyone’s life was certainly not appealing." - The Analyst
Consulting chews people up. The travel, the uncertainty about work, the lack of control over your career, the sacrifice of your personal life, the eating out 4 days a week on an expense account, the distance from actually seeing something done, the relentless pressure to get promoted or be fired... all of it just wrecks people's lives. It's no surprise that the industry has a 20% annual churn rate; the half life of a consulting career is just 3 years.

I've chosen to share this blog with some friends and co-workers over the past year. I've come to regret that decision somewhat, because I feel the need now to be more circumspect in comments about my work. I've had to filter what I've wanted to write, with what I could write. My frustrations with my firm, with the projects that I feel are a waste of my client's money, with the exertions of effort for dead-end marketing or intellectual capital initiatives - I've had to store them up inside me, where they've burned me up and increased my bitterness.

But this week something has changed; I realized that I am not alone. I am not the one eyed man in the valley of the blind. Others see the faults that I do, have the same frustrations and sense of injustices. I am not crazy. I am not a wimp. I am not a whiner. I am just one of many hardworking people, seeking a rewarding career, and finding that the current experience falls short of that goal.

Somehow, that realization that other see the same reality that I do fills me a brighter measure of satisfaction. For that, my colleagues, I thank you.

Filed under the tag Consulting, not Bitterness.


Anonymous said...

I feel your pain and share your optimism.

Res I(p)sa said...

No, you are not alone, but part of an over-skilled, under-utilized army. Just think of what we could achieve if we were actually given something rewarding to do!

Numba_jockey said...

You are definitely not the only one who feels this way. I think we waste so much effort on making the client think we are helping or focusing on the buzzwords we are using than really doing much.

But I have also realized that it is not good business practice is solve the client's problems. And think about the ownership issues of a company-changing idea... the consulting firm gets a one-time payout for the company's long term benefit.

The groups of "us" need to find a niche job title of "people who are called in to make a company better, and then move on to change the game again", but the lack of stability with that is rough. I think the majority of those people who grow tired of firms read all those books about being a consultant on your own, but the risk is great.

Corporate Whore said...

"Just think of what we could achieve if we were actually given something rewarding to do!"

If you have to wait to be given something rewarding to do, you will never find it.

The ANALyst said...

Some interesting comments here. I agree with you Corporate Whore, that sometimes you just can't keep waiting for it to come. You need to go out and get it. It's that kind of thinking that made me take the step.

Although, I do agree that consulting is full of smart people, I do not think most of them would be able to do anything "non-consulting" after about three years of this profession. Why? Because by then they are so ingrained that they have little knowledge of what else they could be good at let alone where else they might contribute.

Maybe it's just me, but I am beginning to feel that consulting as a profession is getting more and more commoditized and people are beginning to question the need to hire expensive firms.

For example, ten years ago you would hire a large systems integrator if you wanted an enterprise wide system. Now however, while companies still do that, they are becoming a lot more aware of the real competence of these firms. A lot more firms are beginning to run these projects themselves with the use of independent consultants and contractors.

In the Strat field this is less evident, but people are beginning to question how much value newly minted mba's and grads with liberal arts degrees can really add to the corporate strategy of an engineering firm. I think strategy firms will adapt in that they focus their hiring more on industry specialists rather than generic mba's. I feel that in the longer term the boutiques and niche houses are going to do better than the generalists.

Just my 2 cents!

Unknown said...

Consultant Ninja,

As someone who I respect and look to for advice on the world of management consulting, why do you stay in the industry if you do not feel the job rewarding?

Whether helping non-profits in the Bay area or helping a start-up, there seems to be numerous opportunities, yet you have decided this option provides the highest ROI?



Consultant Ninja said...


The pay is good (or better than non-profit or startups). When you have student loans and want to buy a house, it's hard to walk away from a position that can take care of those (yes, self-imposed) responsibilities faster.

That said, everyone has their breaking point. Mine is approaching soon.

Anonymous said...

Explore your options - as a consultant you are granted a direct access to your clients heart. Take advantage of it. Build a few cute PP and develop a solid business plan. Start something on a side and see what happens (between those coffee breaks and 18 hour work days).

Consulting sucks, but it pays and has some good points to it.

Trust me, after living in a suitcase and working with 10 different clients within one week, a regular 9-5 office position will bore you to death.

Jenny Sutton said...

Great blog.
Empathize with the challenge of writing honestly/self censorship when close friends, colleagues etc also read your blog. Hope you keep up the blog and the commentary on an industry that is sorely in need of change.

Saturday, June 13, 2009