+61 2 8823 3416 admin@oaktreetalent.com
So you want to work for a Tech Start-Up? 10 things you need to consider…

So you want to work for a Tech Start-Up? 10 things you need to consider…

Not a day goes past that I don’t speak to a strategy management consultant with aspirations of moving from consulting into a “sexy” start-up environment… bring on the free lunches and foosball!!  From juniors to senior level consultants, it seems everyone wants a piece of the dynamic, fast paced rollercoaster lifestyle that comes with working for such a business.

So I decided to investigate the allure of this trendy industry and see if it really does meet the hype…. I spoke to my esteemed network, consisting of serial entrepreneurs who have worked in many a start-up or tech environment, and some have been there and done that in both start up world and the ASX corporates and have war wounds to show. I have compiled and analysed their input and have come up with my top 10 things to consider when considering this career path.

So it seems that… yes, there are some definite pro’s with this career path. Start-ups can offer you massive amounts of freedom; you get involved in a wide variety of tasks for a company where every day is different. You get direct access to C-suite, you are at the centre of power, and decisions are made quickly. It is a casual working environment and there is usually a strong culture filled with missionaries (rather than mercenaries) and there can be some equity incentives for the right roles.

However you also need to consider…

1/ A lot of the “tech start-ups” in Australia are actually local branches being set up by tech companies that HQ’s are based in the US/London/Singapore. The reality is being based in Australia and working for one of these satellite branches removes you from the centre of power and decision making. The Australian team will often be handed decisions and key strategic changes as fait accompli and won’t have any real input into it. This can often mean regular shifts in strategy and tactics without much advance notice which can be extremely frustrating, especially when the decisions are being made by people who don’t really understand local market conditions. So you need to go into such a company and role with your eyes open and a realistic assessment of how much impact you are going to be able to have on the business. 

2/ With regard to a “local” tech start-up, my veteran contacts believe most people they talk to have a completely unrealistic view of what it will be like when they are leaving a management consultancy or industry position. They cite “They are used to the trappings of the corporate environment…nice offices, good pay, bonuses, expense accounts, business class travel….and also very defined roles where they can focus on say “pure strategy” because there is a whole hierarchy of other support staff to look after everything else for them. In a true start-up, you need to be prepared to pitch in and work right across the business, often doing work that is tangential or completely unrelated to what you see as your core role. There aren’t big teams of support staff so suddenly you are doing everything yourself and there certainly aren’t big expense accounts and luxury travel. Working in a true tech start-up is not like what people see at Google or Facebook. It is unglamorous, often involves “unsexy” work, very long hours, and few perks while the business is struggling through its first years”. 

3/ Because of the points above, the people who thrive in start-ups are typically different to people who love corporate consulting. To really enjoy your start-up experience you need to have a high risk tolerance, a huge degree of comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty, a willingness to work across a really diverse range of activities (so you might be a strategy consultant but suddenly find yourself having to attend an expo, man a stall, and sell the product face-to-face to a potential customer). Have no pretensions about the work you are doing, and an ability to get on with people from very different backgrounds to yourself (you will no longer only be working with commerce-law and engineering graduates from UNSW and Sydney Uni).

5/ Many typically have completely unrealistic views on the likely success of start-ups. An almost infinitesimal number of start-ups become unicorns. The vast majority of start-ups fail. So you have to go into this with the mindset that you may devote 3-5 years of your life to this business and end up with little more than a modest salary and a huge amount of experience. Some scale ups can burn out in spectacular fashion but the experience certainly can be character building.

6/ People also often also have unrealistic views about the value they add and therefore the equity stake they should be given. Unless you are a founder or one of the senior management, if you are lucky enough to get any equity at all, your stake is likely be very small and simply as part of a general employee equity scheme. You are very unlikely to get super rich on this due to the high level of business failure and the small stake that you have been given.

7/When thinking about career development generally start-ups (and digital business generally) do a better job of accelerating capable people through levels of seniority quicker. You often see people with 5-10 years of experience reaching quite senior levels in digital businesses. In corporates, this is less the case – promotion tends to be more a balance of experience gained and capability.  However unless a start-up really hits it big, then the brand recognition is likely to be far less than any brand name corporate. Therefore, a future corporate employer could undervalue your experience.

8/The lack of structure can be a real issue for some people, especially those who are coming straight out of a top tier management consulting environment like McKinsey, Bain or BCG. In start-ups people often work outside of the traditional org structure, and tenure is often just as important as role title.

9/Many have visions of changing mindsets and being a thought-leader when they join a start-up however it takes a special type of entrepreneur to listen to an outsider and admit they are wrong. In many cases they will just plough on with their gut feel, so gaining their trust is key, but this is also difficult as most of the other execs have also been on the journey with them. 

10/And finally a word on remuneration. For most start-ups, a significant proportion of income can be through equity in the business. This has the potential to be quite lucrative over the longer term but won’t pay the mortgage in the short term.  When candidates come to me asking about roles in a start-up the first thing I tell them to consider is if they can currently afford it… Many are unaware of the drop in base salary that will be offered compared to many corporate or consulting roles.

So there you have it… there is certainly a lot to think about when considering a move into this space, it can be hugely rewarding for some but it is certainly not for everyone. 

If you have anything to add to the above I would love to hear your thoughts.

10 Top Career Tips for Women from Management Consulting

10 Top Career Tips for Women from Management Consulting

 

1. Have a “can and will do” attitude

When presented with promotion opportunities, women tend to focus on the skills they don’t have for the role as opposed to what they can actually offer and then back themselves to learn the rest on the job. Their male peers on the other hand, readily put up their hands for bigger positions often beyond their current remit and capability. 

Be brave when presented with opportunities and in spite of self-doubt go for it anyway! If it doesn’t work out, so what? There is always a plan B… or C and you may actually learn something about yourself along the way.

 

2. Ask for, and embrace opportunities

Look for ways to get yourself seen and heard. What is keeping your boss up at night and how can you be the one to solve some of their biggest problems. Identify which projects are going to get you noticed and promoted and ask for them, especially if they stretch and develop you further. You need to show your potential and not just how well you perform in your current role.

 

3. Build your tribe of leaders

Build your tribe of leaders “deliberately”. Women are often too focused on excelling at the role at hand and do not take time to look up and identify: (1) mentors, “who know your heart” and can guide you in making important decisions in your life, not just your career; (2) sponsors “who will put their reputation on the line for you” and present you for specific opportunities; (3) coaches who will “help you close specific gaps” in your people and technical skills; and (4) role models, who you choose to emulate, but whom you may not know personally.

 

4. Courage & Character 

Woman leaders need to have excellent communication skills. Written and oral communication skills are crucial for success. In the past, for a woman to make it to a top position, they would often have to behave in a more aggressive, command and control and masculine style similar to their male counterparts. However, we are now finally beginning to see women in top positions embracing their authentic and often feminine styles in their behaviours which exudes gravitas too. Often a coach can help you discover where your blind spots in this area may be.

5. Be mindful and work/life balance

Burn out is prevalent among women striving to emulate their “superwomen’ role models. We  need to find more balance in our lives, be kind to ourselves, listen to our bodies and the warning signs.

Aside form the burn out issue itself, it’s not uncommon for stressed, under-pressure female leaders to engage in behaviours that can be perceived as aggressive. This can have a knock-on negative effect on the team, which in turn can lead to untimely attrition and can also  lead to difficulties in attracting new talent. If you begin to feel like this, there are a number of avenues you might want to explore, ie hire a life coach, book a yoga class or explore a meditation retreat, the idea is to find your outlet.

6. Learn to say no

With the above in mind, you may feel you have no time for yourself. Log your time for a week, both personal and professional. Notice where the big time and energy sappers are and figure out how you can reduce them and increase the things that enhance your well-being. Find a way to delegate or merely learn to let go of “stuff. The world will continue to turn, I promise!

7. Don’t take it personally

Women are often perceived as being more “sensitive” in the work environment. It is important not to change your character or behave like an iron maiden and don’t let comments or criticisms throw you off your game. If you do face patronising remarks, remind yourself how valuable you are, that you’re doing your best and let it roll off your back. Don’t allow those comments to have power over you and never give up. Use it to empower and embolden you!

 

8. Never stop trying

Talent is innate, but skill is developed with practice and perseverance. You must practice relentlessly to perfect the skill in whatever it is that captures your interest. Seize every opportunity to speak at events or even publish an article. No one is perfect the first time around so be kind to yourself and enlist the help of someone you trust or revere to practice with and get their guidance.

 

9. Pull other women up with you.

It is crazy that some women in top positions, consciously or unconsciously, make it more difficult for other aspiring and talented women. They believe they have fought to get where they are and are not embracing the opportunity to share their journey thereby encouraging other women to follow in their footsteps. Don’t be one of these! Be an active mentor, coach or sponsor. You will not only be giving back you will broaden your own skill set and be seen as an authentic female leader that top organisations are looking for. Moreover, they also know you’ll be bringing an entourage of talented female followers with you!

 

10. Take the advantages that come with being a woman and a minority.

When I speak to women about this it is always slightly controversial. It’s perfectly normal to want to be seen for what you can do and bring, not just because you are female.

There is, however, an agenda to promote diversity, which includes providing opportunities to women from consulting backgrounds to further progress their careers. The higher up you go within an organisation the less women you will encounter, however in both Management Consulting firms and in-house corporate Strategy and Transformation teams, senior leaders are open and actively looking to progress their diversity agenda and in particular talented women. Use it! 

They are often bonused on having diverse leadership teams and are actively seeking out opportunities to sponsor or mentor junior female talent. Ask for their advice and you will often get their attention and be noticed.

 

Interview Preparation Tips

Interview Preparation Tips

Interview Preparation Tips

While some people are confident and love being tested in interviews, others get nervous and don’t always show the best version of themselves. No matter which one of these is you, the following tips will help guide you to perform at your best.

Remember you only get one chance to make a good first impression and preparation is key.

We have even seen confident candidates fail in interviews. Overconfidence can sometimes lead to a lack of preparation for an interview, and it often shows up in an attitude of “sell this job to me”. So even if you are the smartest person in the room, with the gravitas to match, you need to do the basics well and remain professional at all times or hiring managers will be put off by a perceived lack of commitment to the interview process.

Whether you feel the position is one you would love to be offered or if you’re merely there to explore the opportunity further, you need to put your best foot forward at all times. Be professional and humble and never let complacency or arrogance come across – it is a small market, people talk, so do yourself proud each and every time.

1. Always do your due diligence on the company you are interviewing with

What have they been in the news for lately?

Read the companies last annual report.

Who sits on the leadership team?

Who are their biggest competitors?

Speak to anyone you know who has worked or does work for that business to get their insights.

2. Have an opinion on what problems they could be trying to solve

Even if you are not currently in the same sector as the hiring company, make sure you understand the issues this sector is facing and come with a view on how, as a business, they may tackle some of these challenges. Clients like that you’ve had a think about their organisation and come with some points of view. It shows interest in them and also a proactive approach that will distinguish you.

3. Rapport is key

It is an unconscious bias that people hire people they like. Always try to build rapport with the interviewer in an authentic way. Be curious, inquiring and also aware that the hiring manager will be evaluating your style and personality against other major stakeholders in the business you would support in order to be effective in the role. They will be asking themselves if you have the style, maturity and gravitas to lead people as well as senior stakeholders while also challenging them without getting them offside. Keep this in mind and always have examples on hand of previous relationship building successes both from team leadership and senior stakeholder perspectives.

4.  Keep it concise!

One common reason for rejection is not being able to articulate your answers in a concise way. Often candidates will give long-winded answers and go off on a tangent. Yes, it’s imperative you need to build rapport BUT interviewers have a limited amount of time and want to get to know you as much as they can in a professional capacity more than a personal one, at least at first.

5. Your Questions

Come prepared with two or three good questions to ask the interviewer when the opportunity arises. This usually happens towards the end of the interview. Always remember when asking questions, the manner in which you ask is often more important than the question itself. Be humble and well intentioned when asking questions about the opportunity so you can determine if this is the right role for you.

When asking about career progression opportunities should you be successful in the current role, please be acutely aware that hiring managers want to be assured you are excited and interested in the role at hand as opposed to the next promotion. It is all in the positioning of the question and can easily be asked more generally like “what do you see as the career pathways from this position after a few years in the role and strong performance”.

6. Money talk

Never ask about salary in the interviews where possible, talk to your recruitment consultant about the salary levels beforehand. Let us do the negotiations for you. If asked about salary expectations in the interview (and yes, it does happen!) gently advise the hiring manager that you haven’t given it too much thought because you’ve been focussed on the role and fit for the position. Advise them that you believe your recruiter would have provided all this information to them prior to the interview.

We have seen these types of conversations go south very quickly if not handled correctly in the moment despite good interview performance up to that point.

7. Behavioural Style Interviews

In behavioural psychology, past behaviours are the best predictor of future behaviours unless those behaviours weren’t helpful and you’ve adopted new ones.  Behavioural questions evaluate how you’ve handled situations in the past and what you would do if faced with a similar situation again in the future. It’s about articulating your approach and process but also having learnt from situations that didn’t turn out well. Clients also like to understand what you have learned from failures and how its changed your approach and subsequent behaviours.

For example: Tell me about a time you have failed on a project you were working on? What did you learn from this?

This is not easy but if prepared you can come out on top.

We suggest you tackle these type of questions using the STAR method. This method also ensures you stay on point and concise.

(S)ituation:

Think of a situation similar to what the interviewer is asking you about that had a successful or learning outcome. It doesn’t necessarily have to be work related as long as it’s relevant. Remember to include the who, what, where, when and how.

(T)ask:

Describe the task you were responsible for in that situation. Keep it specific but concise. Make sure to highlight any specific challenges you faced.

(A)ction:

This is the part where you describe exactly what you did. How did you complete the task you were assigned? Remember to focus on what you did and highlight traits (qualities) that a hiring manager will find desirable (initiative, teamwork, leadership, dedication, etc.)

(R)esult:

Share what the outcome of the situation was and how you specifically contributed to that outcome. What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What were the results of your actions?

This is where you also get to be introspective and share some of the softer learnings over and above the hard facts or results. 

Here are more behavioural interview questions to practice with.

8. Watch your ego!

Clients find candidates that display a high level of ego in interview are either covering up for some insecurity they have or have a lack of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Either way it is not a good look. Clients prefer to hire humble, achievement-oriented people who are universally likeable, no matter how talented they are.

9. Mind your manners

Wherever possible write a thank you email to the hiring manager for their time.

Some clients have a real issue with candidates that do not send thank you messages post interview. A recent survey on this showed that 25% (one in four) interviewers appreciate or even expect this courtesy. If possible, it is recommended you end it straight after the interview or at the very least the same day of the interview.

Research shows that people with manners are perceived as more likeable. Writing a thank you note post interview, reiterating that you would be excited to work with them or that you’re excited about next steps, allows the hiring manager to re-engage with you, thereby making you more memorable too. This small act can place you front of mind during their refection time on candidates they’ve met.

 

 


.

 

Salary Guide 2019

Salary Guide 2019

Salary Guide 2019

In the past few years we have seen strict salary bandings in most major ASX listed businesses, however this year we are finding that many hiring managers have put cases through to raise these bands when hiring the best consulting talent into their business units. The war for talent is real, and whilst there are many reasons a candidate will take a role, salary is a very important factor. We have seen some top tier candidates obtain offers above market rates at the more senior level when moving into industry, however we always urge candidates to take a holistic view of the company and the role. 

We are often asked for traditional salary information by our clients who are looking to benchmark their own teams against the market. We feel this is a good idea as salaries can change and you want to ensure you retain your top performers who have been loyal. They are undoubtedly being approached by your competitors and you want to reduce their options to leave. Having this information to hand at performance review time is also very useful for both the manager and the consultant.

These salaries are base only – not including superannuation or bonus

Top Tier Consulting Salaries

The top tier management consulting firms pay pretty well and up to a certain level consultants can expect a commensurate level of base salary compensation if moving to industry. This changes at the Executive Manager level. Above this level companies will rarely offer parity. Decent bonuses can we achieved and vary at each level

Partner $380k +

Associate Partner $280k-$380k

Principal $230k-$320k

Executive Manager $190k-$260k

Project Leader/Manager $150k-$200k

Senior Associate /Consultant $130k-$170k

Business Analyst /Associate $100k-$140k

 

Big 4 Consulting Salaries

Salaries in the Tier 2 or Big 4 consulting firms usually can be matched when candidates take a role into industry. We find some consulting firms, we deems as underpaying their consultants in the market for the title they hold. Bonuses are generally minimal.

Partner $280k plus

Director $190k -$250k

Associate Director/Senior Manager $140k- $180k

Manager $110- $150k

Associate/Consultant $75k- $120k

 

In-house consulting roles in Financial Services

With most of the Financial Institutions fighting for the same talent, this has pushed up salaries a little in recent years. They pay better bonuses that the non-Financial Services players in general. A Executive Manager/ Junior Director can expect circa a 30-45% bonus.

Executive General Manager/Senior Director $300k +

General Manager/Director $250k-$340k

Executive Manager/ Junior Director $180k -$250k

Senior Manager $140k-$170k

Senior Consultant/Manager $110k-$150k

Associate/Consultant $90k- $120k

 

In-house Consulting Roles in non-Financial Services

The major players in this space are the telco’s, retailers, airlines and to some extent the energy/infrastructure organisations. We find bonuses generally slightly lower in these organisations.

Executive General Manager/ CSO- $330k plus

General Manager/ Principal/ Head Of $250k-$340K

Senior Manager $160k-$220k

Manager $140k-$165k

Senior Consultant $100k- $140k

Associate. Consultant  $80k-$110k

 

For further specific information please contact us directly.