Careers in Consulting

To any of my friends considering a career in consulting, you should know why it is an amalgamation of the words con and insult. This is a well written, heart-wrenching article on the inner workings in one of the world’s top strategy management consulting firms. The rest of the companies are just the same. I shall just quote one part of the entire text here:

I was not surprised the day I lost my job. The writing was on the wall. BCG’s management might have been releasing reports claiming countries like Dubai would be islands of stability in the world’s rough financial seas, but to the ground troops, it was obvious the economy was not doing well. From the very beginning of my employment, I hadn’t met a single employee who planned on staying with the company — all of them were scrambling for lifeboats, trying to land cushy jobs with cash-stuffed clients or find their way back to their home countries.

What did surprise me was the offer BCG made to me as I was on the way out the door. In exchange for me signing an agreement, BCG would give me the rough equivalent of $16,000 in UAE dirhams. Much of it looked boilerplate, like any common compromise agreement used in Europe — in return for some money, I would stipulate that I hadn’t been discriminated against on the basis of race or gender, etc.

But the rest was very clearly a non-disclosure agreement, and it made me uncomfortable. I signed a non-disclosure agreement when I first took the job, but that only covered BCG’s intellectual property and client identities, things that seemed entirely reasonable to protect. This agreement went much further. Not only did it bar me from making any disparaging comments about BCG or my work experience, but I wouldn’t even be allowed to reveal the existence of the non-disclosure agreement itself. The implication was clear: I could either be a cheerleader for BCG or stay silent, but anything else would bring swift legal retribution. When I asked to have the non-disclosure clauses removed, I was told that the agreement was a standard offer to employees, and that its terms were non-negotiable.

As hard as it was to decide whether or not to stay at my job, it was easy to pass up the hush money. Mistake or not, my future hypothetical children deserved to hear their father’s story, and $16,000 did not seem like a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. After rejecting the offer, I enjoyed a full night’s rest.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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