Wow.. what a roller-coaster of a year it has been so far, and we fear there are more bumps, twists and turns to go. However, I am ever the optimist and if this is as bad as it gets then I feel this community is doing OK in comparison to some. There have been some casualties for sure, the most obvious being the big 4 consulting firms, and some exec level strategy & transformation roles, where we are receiving an increased amount of calls from those having been retrenched or at risk of being let go, but mainly strategy folk are still extremely busy and safe in their roles.
In April we saw many roles go on hold instantly, mostly as part of a whole of business directive. We understand that was not due to a lack of want or need for strategy hires, more that strategy teams and HR/talent teams had to urgently respond to Covid. Strategies changed direction quickly, execs were busy in recession proofing mode and talent teams were all pulled into hiring a vast number of new roles such as call centre staff. But it was not long before the strategy roles came live once again.
Interestingly, many of our recent roles are not as a response to Covid-19, where we would expect to see cost cutting or diversification due to the market conditions, in fact the roles remain focused on growth opportunities.
So where have the roles been coming from?
We have seen several strategy manager level roles coming through in industry across all sectors, but mainly from the bigger ASX organisations as strategy teams add heads and continue to grow due to internal demand. Clients are taking advantage of the increased interest in industry roles currently from management consultants, many whom have had a glimpse of what work/life balance could look like and, due to working from home, have had more opportunity to talk to recruiters and hiring managers. Usually we would need to bolsters the local talent short market with international candidates but at the moment that is:
a/ not necessary due to an increase in on shore interest and
b/ not viable with many organisations putting a freeze on international hiring for the foreseeable future. This is even affecting some on current sponsored visa’s where businesses are reluctant to take over visa’s as part of cost cutting and risk reducing strategies.
At the senior end of the market however recruitment processes are moving somewhat slower. Whilst roles are definitely still there, hiring managers are focused on hiring not only very smart talent, mostly from premium brands such as McKinsey, Bain or BCG, candidates also have to exude executive presence. We are also seeing a renewed focus on diversity at the top end making life more difficult for some. Due to the increased competition in the market salaries are holding fast for most levels but at the senior end we are seeing clients increase their budgets slightly to secure the talent they select.
What is really slowing down processes is trying to get time in exec’s diaries for interviews. Strategy leaders have a lot on their plates right now and whilst hiring is deemed important, so is recession proofing their businesses and responding to the many issues arising daily due to the current economic environment.
All this being said, we are preparing to be busy until the end of the year. When budgets are released in July, we generally see a knock-on effect with an increase in mid to senior level roles in August/ September and then right until the end of the year. We are optimistic that this will be no different despite the obvious challenges. But we also do not see it being a walk in the park to secure the best roles. Candidates are really being tested in interviews with some very tough questions, hard case interviews and HR testing. There are more quality candidates applying for each role, as such clients have more choice. Our recommendation to anyone considering a move is to thoroughly prepare and be interview ready. Gone are the days when just having MBB on your resume and creating rapport is enough to cut the mustard, the bar has risen substantially. Preparation is key.
With Covid-19 keeping jet-setting management consultants home-bound, I’ve managed to pin them down for a chat under lockdown. I’ve had some very interesting conversations around how working from home has affected their work, their relationships and their health and I was interested in their thoughts around if the future of consulting will look very different when we move out of lockdown.
The collective feeling is that that, mostly, consultants are really enjoying being at home but generally feel they are working harder to get the same results as before and are starting to feel less fulfilled in their work. This is down to the simple fact that human beings, whether in an Agile or more traditional process are just more efficient working in person, and Agile is centred around being able to work closely and in person with sprint teams. Many cited that the quick informal coffee meetings or hallway chats with clients are often the best way to really understand the underlying problems a business may have, and are missing the interaction. Instead conversations have moved to Zoom or Skype and many consultants are experiencing Zoom fatigue and teething problems with technology – such as clients using different digital platforms to the consulting firms or not being technically savvy. Mostly, however, clients and consultants alike are quick to adapt but find interactions are just less enjoyable: web chats are being scheduled instead of an impromptu quick chats and this is resulting in longer and more formal conversations.
The most obvious downside highlighted by every consultant I spoke to was the inability to build deeper relationships with clients, especially new clients. The lack of small talk before and after meetings has made it harder to really connect the same way as they have been used to. Although their clients seem to welcome a quick call whenever needed, it just doesn’t seem to have the same impact.
Of course, the effect this is having on consultants’ personal lives has been enormous. Most love not doing the expected travel, and whilst they are still putting the same – if not more – hours in, they have swapped lengthy commutes and flights for exercise and family time. Although their frequent flyer points are suffering immensely, they are able to put their own kids to bed and read them bedtime stories. Their self care has improved, with sleeping more and eating home cooked food – well most are – some are still expensing Uber eats daily apparently. Their pets are wondering what is going on having never been walked by their humans so much in their lives. Generally, life is just better.
Some cited having their kids in the other room being really hard, and not for the reason I first expected… and yes there are stories of “zoom family bloopers” with cheeky toddlers running into the office at exactly the wrong moment, but mostly they are feeling guilt. Guilt for being present but not being present.
What the vast majority of the consultants I have been speaking to echo is that this unprecedented situation has given m a glimpse into what “normal” life could be like outside of consulting and many are liking what they are experiencing. This could see a rise in consultants looking to make a move into industry roles in the coming months.
It’s clear that the top tier consulting firms, such as McKinsey, Bain & BCG, are extremely busy right now as they are being pulled into Covid response projects. Their leadership teams are trying to figure out how and if they need to change the way they operate moving forward – it is the hot topic of the moment. Do they move to a more flexible working culture meaning consultants can enjoy a more tangible work/life balance? Or do they return to the Monday morning 5am dash to the airport? Or something in between? Many feel there is a middle ground that needs to and can be reached.
Where do you sit on this topic, and do you think there is a happy medium? Let me know in the comments below.
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