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Old 09.12.2015, 20:09
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Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

So I've been offered a job as a senior consultant for one of the "big 5" type consulting companies. I'm a full stack / .NET software engineer in normal language but this is what I get called if I work for them

They're a big company, present in over 20 countries around the world and have a good reputation from what I can gather. I'd be working on a long term project about 30 minutes by train from Zurich and I don't think there'll be any other travel involved, at least not for the first year. They offered me a salary about 10k above what I would get as a normal employee, plus 10k bonus per year and 25 days holidays. There's also 80 hours of training per year.

I've been contracting in Switzerland for the past few years and that finished last year, but there doesn't seem to be much contract roles going at the moment which is why I'm considering this role. I've never worked for a consultancy though so I really have no clue what it's like.

One issue is that I'll be taking home about 2.5k less per month compared to a daily contract rate. So I'm wondering...

- are there any advantages / perks / benefits working for a consultancy that would compensate for the decrease in take home pay?

- in general if a consultant doesn't like the project / client where they're placed, or they get tired / bored of it, can they ask for a change? Or do you just go where you're told?

- is there really a lot of overtime involved in consultancy (like I've read)? I don't mind a reasonable amount but not consistently long hours

- are there any questions I should be asking up front? I've already asked them about the training (what exactly it is, if it's technical etc) and also things about holidays and the bonus. I don't want to ask too many questions though in case I frighten them off

If there's anything I haven't thought of or things I need to be aware of I'd really appreciate some input from people that have experience in large IT consulting firms.
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Old 09.12.2015, 20:24
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Is this an Indian based consulting company?

Feedback is completely different if it is.
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Old 09.12.2015, 20:29
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Hi, no they were set up in the US initially in 2000 and have been expanding since. According to their website they have an offshore presence in India.
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Old 09.12.2015, 20:48
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

this doesn't answer your question but may be helpful...

http://www.lohnrechner.ch/informatio...eistungen.html
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Old 09.12.2015, 20:51
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Big 5? Who is the fifth?
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Old 09.12.2015, 20:56
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

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Big 5? Who is the fifth?
Presumably, one of the parent companies of the company that's offering the OP the role.
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Old 09.12.2015, 21:01
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Well, the 5th biggest is Grant Thornton, where we hope Zappa Jr. is headed shortly. Look like a great company.
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Old 09.12.2015, 21:03
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

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- are there any advantages / perks / benefits working for a consultancy that would compensate for the decrease in take home pay?
No. It's about upward mobility and mid-to-long term career planning, it's not about increased pay.

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- in general if a consultant doesn't like the project / client where they're placed, or they get tired / bored of it, can they ask for a change? Or do you just go where you're told?
What do you think? As with any other company, there is room for negotiation, but if you go to your boss, say you're tired of your client and want to change tomorrow, you're going to either be laughed at or fired.

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- is there really a lot of overtime involved in consultancy (like I've read)? I don't mind a reasonable amount but not consistently long hours
Probably more than you would like, though it depends on the firm, the client, the engagement and your own personal drive.

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- are there any questions I should be asking up front? I've already asked them about the training (what exactly it is, if it's technical etc) and also things about holidays and the bonus. I don't want to ask too many questions though in case I frighten them off
Anyone who refuses to hire you because you ask questions is not a very good hiring manager - and that's something that we tend to be very good at, because we do a lot of it (normal annual turnover in a consulting company is 20-25%).

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If there's anything I haven't thought of or things I need to be aware of I'd really appreciate some input from people that have experience in large IT consulting firms.
You really want to consider whether this is the right move for you. Consulting with a Big 4 is a great gig if:
a) you're fresh out of school and looking to get fast experience and seniority or
b) you're on the track to the top, where renumeration is pretty strong.

Coming in as an experienced hire is a very different game, and while it can be done, it's primarily done well by people that match up with (b). For people who just want a job, you can make more money elsewhere and probably work less.

Just my 2 cents, do with it as you please.
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Old 09.12.2015, 21:13
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

some stuff that came to my mind:

Quote:
- are there any advantages / perks / benefits working for a consultancy that would compensate for the decrease in take home pay?
Depends on the place you are at (Deloitte is not quite the same as Tata) but in general

- prestige factor on CV
- opportunities to take on more responsibilities / get better experience then you might in-house
- faster career advancement, although if you do not want to stay in consulting as a career and go for partner this is not that important.

Quote:
- in general if a consultant doesn't like the project / client where they're placed, or they get tired / bored of it, can they ask for a change? Or do you just go where you're told?
Depends on other projects available and your organisational clout/network - in other words, normally not initially.

Quote:
- is there really a lot of overtime involved in consultancy (like I've read)? I don't mind a reasonable amount but not consistently long hours
Depends on exactly where you might be going but yes, there is generally a lot of overtime and urgency involved.

Quote:
- are there any questions I should be asking up front? I've already asked them about the training (what exactly it is, if it's technical etc) and also things about holidays and the bonus. I don't want to ask too many questions though in case I frighten them off
Typically I think it's important to nail down things like overtime compensation, travel compensation, bonus criteria and typical performance expectations, career track (some shops have multiple career tracks) and advancement. The big guys are pretty standardised in this regards.

Quote:
If there's anything I haven't thought of or things I need to be aware of I'd really appreciate some input from people that have experience in large IT consulting firms.
Have a clear goal going in. Do you want to do it for a few years to get the experience and name on your CV? Do you want to do it to get to senior manager or partner level? This may change... but its helpful to know this in order to decide on the offer.

Be honest with yourself on travel. This project may be not too bad, with 30m from Zurich. The next one may be hours away and have you staying in a hotel during the week. Could you live with that for years on end?
(obviously depends on which company you might sign up with). It's a risk.
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Old 09.12.2015, 21:29
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

What are the differences for you between freelance and this offer?


Possible examples are,
  • sick pay
  • accident insurance
  • who pays the AHV/SVA
  • Who pays pension contributions
  • paid holidays
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Old 09.12.2015, 21:40
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

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You really want to consider whether this is the right move for you. Consulting with a Big 4 is a great gig if:
a) you're fresh out of school and looking to get fast experience and seniority or
b) you're on the track to the top, where renumeration is pretty strong.

Coming in as an experienced hire is a very different game, and while it can be done, it's primarily done well by people that match up with (b). For people who just want a job, you can make more money elsewhere and probably work less.

Just my 2 cents, do with it as you please.
I was going to write this but Corbets preceded me (with better words!). I have observed that the most common reason people get back into consulting or switch from one Big 4 (or 5) to the other is opportunities for rapid upward mobility - by rapid I mean within the next year, two at the very most. By upward I mean to MD/partner level.

Expect long hours because in addition to your day job, in order to secure that spot at the top within the next 1-2 years, you'll have to network, build up your reputation with the key folks who are responsible for "sponsoring" you to be at the top, be involved in significant social initiatives in the firm, etc. etc. All extracurricular which takes time.

None of this applies if you are just looking for "a job" vs. a career. But if that's the case you might find yourself very dissatisfied and/or under too much stress/pressure, therefore unhappy and looking elsewhere yet again.
I'd think about this professional move in terms of career goals.
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Old 09.12.2015, 23:23
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Oops I thought the expression was "big 5" but seems like it's "big 4". That pretty much sums up what I know about consulting

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You really want to consider whether this is the right move for you. Consulting with a Big 4 is a great gig if:
a) you're fresh out of school and looking to get fast experience and seniority or
b) you're on the track to the top, where renumeration is pretty strong.

Coming in as an experienced hire is a very different game, and while it can be done, it's primarily done well by people that match up with (b). For people who just want a job, you can make more money elsewhere and probably work less.

Just my 2 cents, do with it as you please.
Thanks. I'm not really into climbing the corporate ladder anything like that. I'm a coder at heart so anything to do with management I generally run a mile from. But... the HR person I spoke to in the final interview said that after a year they plan to move me into management. Hadn't expected that at all so not sure what to make of it yet.

Quote:
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Typically I think it's important to nail down things like overtime compensation, travel compensation, bonus criteria and typical performance expectations, career track (some shops have multiple career tracks) and advancement. The big guys are pretty standardised in this regards.
Good call will get more info on some of that.

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What are the differences for you between freelance and this offer?


Possible examples are,
  • sick pay
  • accident insurance
  • who pays the AHV/SVA
  • Who pays pension contributions
  • paid holidays
That's pretty much it...all of the above. I suppose it's the general difference between freelance / contract and permie no matter what country you're in.
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Old 10.12.2015, 07:40
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

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Presumably, one of the parent companies of the company that's offering the OP the role.
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Oops I thought the expression was "big 5" but seems like it's "big 4". That pretty much sums up what I know about consulting


Quote:
Thanks. I'm not really into climbing the corporate ladder anything like that. I'm a coder at heart so anything to do with management I generally run a mile from. But... the HR person I spoke to in the final interview said that after a year they plan to move me into management. Hadn't expected that at all so not sure what to make of it yet.
Just be aware that at the Big 4 there is no desire for you to stay static... they generally only hire people that (they) want to progress through the ranks, and the concrete expectation is that you will aim to go into management and thus earn more money for the firm. If that isn't your goal, and you are not comfortable presenting in front of colleagues/clients and developing further soft-skills, then the Big 4 likely really isn't for you.

From your posts, you sound like you would be better suited to joining a financial institution (bank, insurance), getting a high base salary and sitting there programming in peace and contentment all day while wearing jeans and t-shirt.
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Old 10.12.2015, 08:47
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

In my experience (nearly 30 years in the IT industry) being one of the big 5 (or indeed the majority of large consultancies) and having a "good reputation" do not go together, except at golf-playing together executive levels. "Great working conditions" is another phrase seldom linked to them either. Except in conjunction with the word "not".

Technical ability is not usually something highly prized (first thing the SAP consultancies did in the 90s was move away from Basis and ABAP - hence dumb methodologies like ASAP, separation of what used to be "analyst programmers" into "analysts" and "programmers"). The reason is that fluffy things like business analysis and change management are hard to quantify. If the customer requests a program to do a task, it's easy for them to tell if it meets the criteria. Consultancies don't like it when customers have the ability to determine concretely if they're any good.

However, they can enable you to have a very broad range of experience and develop professionally. You can also end up with a very fruitful network. If you have no attachments, go for it.
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Old 10.12.2015, 09:13
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Quote:
What are the differences for you between freelance and this offer?
When working for a consulting company, you get pay when sitting at the office between two contracts.
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Old 10.12.2015, 09:18
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

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When working for a consulting company, you get pay when sitting at the office between two contracts.
Even better is to get pay when at home between contracts :-)
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Old 10.12.2015, 09:36
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

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In my experience (nearly 30 years in the IT industry) being one of the big 5 (or indeed the majority of large consultancies) and having a "good reputation" do not go together, except at golf-playing together executive levels. "Great working conditions" is another phrase seldom linked to them either. Except in conjunction with the word "not".

Technical ability is not usually something highly prized (first thing the SAP consultancies did in the 90s was move away from Basis and ABAP - hence dumb methodologies like ASAP, separation of what used to be "analyst programmers" into "analysts" and "programmers"). The reason is that fluffy things like business analysis and change management are hard to quantify. If the customer requests a program to do a task, it's easy for them to tell if it meets the criteria. Consultancies don't like it when customers have the ability to determine concretely if they're any good.

However, they can enable you to have a very broad range of experience and develop professionally. You can also end up with a very fruitful network. If you have no attachments, go for it.
You are being a bit hars there. The Big 4 often do have a good reputation, and after a couple of years it is very common to move into the indstray where your skills are respected and desired. Big 4 names carry weight, of that there is no doubt.

Technical skills depend on the area you are working in, but as a consultant in a technology-based area they ARE important, and saying otherwise is wrong.

Working conditions... up and down.
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Old 10.12.2015, 12:24
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Who are the big 4 consulting companies out of interest ?
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Old 10.12.2015, 12:30
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

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Who are the big 4 consulting companies out of interest ?
It's a 1 second Google away.
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Old 10.12.2015, 12:31
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Re: Anyone work as an IT consultant for "big 5" firms?

Traditionally, the big four are the consulting arms of the "big-four" accounting firms:

- KPMG
- Ernst & Young
- PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Deloitte
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