Saturday, July 01, 2006

Corporate vs Consulting

My recent work move was from consulting life into corporate life. I've been there before, but a while ago. Something I really noticed when I moved back is that there are far more "mature"workers, at all levels, but particularly at the junior end. In consulting, whether articulated or not, most firms operate some kind of "up-or-out" policy. If you don't look like you're going to get that next promotion, the firm doesn't want you. So you end up with a pyramid structure, not just by level, but also by age. Whereas corporate life has always had room for the person who doesn't get promoted. You stay there, and sometimes (not as often as in the past) you are even valued for your corporate knowledge.

I probably have a tendency to over-glamorise. Corporate life has treated "mature"workers really badly over the years in ways of redundancies and restructures. But what I hadn't really realised, is that at least they treated them moderately well in the first place. Consulting now seems a bit unhealthy to me, with its unwillingness to place any value on experience, unless it makes you capable of doing the very top job. Ruthlessly removing those people who are in the bottom half of the pool may make for a better structure (and better leverage, for those partners at the top), but it doesn't necessarily make for a wonderful human environment.


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