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.
MANAGEMENT CONSULTING INDUSTRY WELCOMES NEW PLAYER IN STRATEGY AND TRANSFORMATION EXECUTIVE RECRUITMENT
Formidable executive recruiters join forces to launch new offering in Sydney!
September 1, 2019, Barrangaroo, Sydney – OAKTREE TALENT GROUP has today launched as a one-stop management consulting recruitment offering catering for the exclusive Strategy and Transformation market.
Combining thirty plus years of strategy and transformation recruitment experience, the new company is being spearheaded by former Morgan McKinley Strategy lead Anika Stokes and Ilan Leshetz, former Ethos Strategy Practice Partner and current founder of a Sydney-based boutique Strategy & Transformation recruitment firm.
With ambitious growth plans and a refreshingly consultative and intimate approach at the heart of their new offering, the pair will operate as strategic career partners to their longstanding network of senior executive-level candidates and work on an exclusive basis with their clients to secure the best talent the industry has to offer into their respective organisations.
The pair offer a true complement of high-end capability required to engage in the recruitment process at this level. Leshetz is a qualified Chartered Accountant, NLP Master practitioner and holds a Masters in Coaching Psychology from Sydney University’s world-renowned Coaching Psychology unit. After leading the Strategy Practice at Ethos Corporation, he then held an international recruitment role at global management consulting firm, Partners in Performance, attracting management consulting professionals globally. In 2015, Leshetz founded a successful boutique management consulting recruitment firm targeting the Australian market.
As a known ground breaker in the Strategy and Consulting Industries, Stokes formerly ran a boutique management consulting recruitment firm in the UK before coming to Australia and spending the last decade at Morgan McKinley, setting up and subsequently growing the firms’ Strategy division. Stokes also took the ‘top performing consultant’ award every year since.
Both executives have navigated multiple career moves for their vast portfolio of candidates and have an unrivalled network to draw upon providing a compelling proposition for their clients.
Commenting on this new market entrant, Andrew Chanmugam, EGM CX at Bankwest said, ”In a world that’s ever changing and fiercely competitive every organisation is trying to find a competitive advantage. This new offering will allow organisations like ourselves to unlock our human potential by securing the best talent into key executive-level business Strategy and Transformation roles to ensure that our businesses continue to thrive, evolve and remain competitive and suitably structured to drive further innovation in our industry in Australia”.
Alex Macoun, GM Customer Data at Commonwealth Bank said, “This pairing will be a powerful blend of two of Australia’s best recruiters in this space, bar none”.
Thomas Roets, EGM Wholesale Product & Supply at NBN Co. said, “I’ve worked with both these amazing individuals independently with fantastic results. Together they are going to be a formidable unstoppable team”.
It’s well documented that increasing female participation in the workforce would have a significant impact on the Australian economy. Over the last decade, leading organisations such as the OECD, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Company and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency have produced studies on the economic influence of gender equality. The outcome of each study has shown compelling evidence that improved gender equality in the workplace would strengthen Australia’s economy.
According to Goldman Sachs, for every year that the problem of gender inequality goes unresolved, Australia’s GDP forfeits a 20% increase. This figure represents an annual loss of around $300 billion to the economy.
It makes sense for all businesses to address gender inequality.
Research from the Peterson Institute of International Economics suggests that a typical corporate firm could see a 15% increase in profitability by going from having no women in corporate leadership to a 30% female share. The common view is that gender equality and diversity brings together varied perspectives, produces a more holistic analysis of the issues an organisation faces, and leads to improved decision-making, which in turn increases organisational performance.
Yet, in spite of these clear economic and performance benefits for organisations, there’s a stark disconnect to the way women are treated in the workforce in relation to pregnancy and parental leave. The last National Review by the Australian Human Rights Commission into discrimination related to pregnancy and parental leave, found that one in two (49%) mothers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace at some point. And it’s not just mothers. Over a quarter (27%) of the fathers and partners surveyed reported experiencing discrimination related to parental leave and return to work despite taking very short periods of leave.
Not only does discrimination have a negative impact on employee engagement and their attachment to their workplace, the commercial loss to businesses when women don’t return to work is high.
Employers should be concerned that they are losing an investment when talent, potential and intellectual property leave their business.
A key element in retaining parents in the workplace is flexible work practices. However, there is a certain stigma attached to flexible working; a perception of a lack of commitment to career progression, with flexible working options becoming ‘career dead ends’. For flexibility to work, for both parents and employers, there must be executive support, as well as a culture of acceptance within the organisation, particularly by middle management levels.
In reality, any disconnection between organisational policy and how managers implement it, makes the policy redundant.
It is clear there are significant challenges that need to be addressed so employers and employees are aware of their obligations, rights, and entitlements in relation to pregnancy, parental leave and returning to work. However, even with this knowledge, organisational culture needs to change to be more compatible with having a family.
A critical step for gender equality is that employers need to support men to be active, hands-on-dads. Without this, women will always be held back in the workplace, and shouldered with most of the responsibility for looking after children.
For companies to attract and retain their talented workforce and specifically to future-proof their millennial workforce, they need to adapt policy and culture to align with current thinking, which is parenting isn’t the sole responsibility of women.
The Gender Pay Gap prevents many fathers from taking time off work for parenting, since family income is more likely to be compromised when they do, so not only is closing the Gender Pay Gap the right thing to do for women, it is also necessary if fathers are going to have equal opportunity to take parental leave.
The attrition of talent surrounding parental leave doesn’t solely relate to the loss of women. Evidence is beginning to emerge of hidden ‘father-churn’: fathers or expectant fathers changing employment because they cannot reconcile family/ work obligations, and possibly not explaining this to their employer. Fathers with access to flexible working seem to be more satisfied with work/ family balance and to be less likely to consider changing employer (Burnett et al., 2011).
The Fatherhood Institute suggests that because men often hold positions of influence in the workplace, we need men to ‘walk the talk’ by creating workplaces that encourage men to be active fathers and protect women against the ‘motherhood penalty’. There are a range of ways men can do this:
- Men in senior roles could look seriously at the business case for closing the gender pay gap and redesigning their organisations’ parenting leave systems. Key changes could include enhancing shared parental leave for either parent to the same extent as they enhance maternity leave; promoting flexible working approaches explicitly to men in the workforce; and enabling male employees to ‘come out’ as dads.
- Senior managers who are dads could take substantial leave during their child’s first year, to help encourage others to do so. The more visible ‘boardroom dads’ become, the more dads in other parts of the organisation will feel free to open up about their aspirations for a better work-life balance.
We need all employers to recognise the part they play in driving a more equal and fair workplace so all parents can benefit from the opportunity to parent and work.
At Triiyo, they support company’s to achieve this. Triiyo is the leading parental leave platform designed to maximise the participation of women in the workforce and address parental leave equality by normalising parenting in the workplace. Their People Engagement Platform enhances connectivity and communication between teams and provides practical resources to support managers and employees through pregnancy, parental leave, and on return to work after parental leave.
If you’re investing in parental leave policy and seeking to improve your parental leave program, talk to the team at Triiyo. For more information or to book a demo, contact firstname.lastname@example.org