The problem with working for
a "High End" high tech consulting company.
to large sized high tech consulting companies have no heart or
treat their employees the same as their clients, maximize profit and
minimize expenses (including training).
I once heard a great quote, "Any consultant that is on salary is a
fool". This is such a great quote in so many ways. A
straight salary is a leveling device, it kills excellance. This
may be ok for corporations with many employees and many HR rules, but
it is the death for a small/medium consulting company. I have to
admit that I was a fool under this definition...
I know that at the consulting company that I worked for the
average billing rate was $146 per hour. The average salary for an
engineer/consultant was $80,000 per year (arround $39/hour). (note:
I use the words engineer and consultant interchangeabily because in
2002 all engineers where renamed consultants for marketing purposes)
Yet, this company claimed to be losing money! How is this
possible? Could it be because of the top heavy management
structure? In my direct line of reporting, there was a Account
Manager for DC (District of Columbia), Consulting Director for DC, HR
representative for DC, Regional Director of Mid Atlantic, VP of Mid
Atlantic, and SVP of Mid Atlantic. (BTW, the DC office had 9
engineers when I left. The Mid Atlantic probably had around 30
engineers). Then there is the expensive office on Broadway in New
York city with the CEO, the guy doing the CEO's job (I don't understand
this), CTO, CFO, Treasurer, VP of HR, VP of Accounting, VP of
operations, VP of media relations, Director of HR, Director of
operations, Director of media relations, around 8 accounting people,
and around 8 operations people who maintained the crappy internal
systems which crashed every other weekend. All of this for a
company with a grand total of 400 employees of which only 250 where
consultants (revenue producers).
Sadly, the "high end" (their words) consulting company
that I worked for has followed the race to the bottom. They
are reducing salaries and in increasing billing rates. Their new
modus operandi seems to be to hire long time unemployeed,
inexperienced, and desparate engineers at a really low salary and hope
that their "expensive" and experienced engineers quit.
Interestingly, they no long give out stock options (not that they were
worth anything since they are not a public company). I have to
really wonder who is hiring these companies and why. (I guess
part of the problem is the US tax code, consultants are a capital
expense and can be written off in the current year whereas employees
are a tax liability).
What is happening today is that the client is paying for the
training of the consulting company's inexperienced employees.
Training budgets went the way of the Internet bubble, they are
gone. The consulting companies advertise their consultants as
"bleeding edge" technologist, but this is not true. The last time
any consultant had any training was probably with the last
(non-consulting) company that they worked for. This is so
bizarrie, but this is what is happening.
Fun tidbits from my days as a consultant:
I joined the company in 2000 when networking was hot. The company
does great setting up networks all over the place. The company
hires a bunch of fibre engineers. Then the Networking/Fibre
bubble burst. The company fires a bunch of fibre engineers.
I'm assigned to a top 5 US government contractor to fix their internal
UNIX systems because all of their UNIX people quit. Why does the
US government hire incompetent contractors that can't even run their
I get a new boss (called a PSD, Program Services Director)
I attend serveral all hands meetings, we are told that the company has
great EBITDA (for those that don't know, a fake accounting number used
to make everything sound great. It basically means revenue before
I get a new PSD.
I have my review. I'm excellent, but there is no raise because
the company is lossing money.
The company decides that it needs "critical mass" and opens offices all
over the US and europe. Then the european networking bubble burst
and the company closes a bunch of european offices, getting sued along
the way for violating european labor laws (which they didn't
investigate before hiring a bunch of european engineers).
My government contractor contract wraps up after 5 extensions (1.75
years) (because the goverment contractor couldn't hire anyone to take
my place (could pay be a problem??)
The company randomly lays off 10% of the engineers in the DC office.
I'm assigned to a telco that is going down the tubes, I'm told to find
something to do. Why the telco hired us I do not know. I
end up writting a really cool CDM management system in PHP. The
telco goes belly up and my neat little project never sees the light of
day. (.5 years)
My old PSD is assigned to me.
I attend all of the all hands meetings, EBITDA is still great.
have my review. I'm excellent, but there is no raise because the
company is lossing money.
The company lays off 10% of the senior engineers in the DC office.
company decides to be a security company, it hires a bunch of security
guys. Then the company's servers get hacked and data is published
on the Internet. The company fires a bunch of security guys.
The company buys a failing consulting company and fires just about
everyone. No one really knows what resources the company bought,
but they did get rid of one competitor.
I'm assigned to a US goverment agency with one of the guys left from
the failing consulting company. He's supposed to be a stress
testing expert, he's not. He quits a couple of months latter
leaving me holding the bag on a very complex stress test and networking
project. I manage to finish the project by myself (1 year).
My PSD quits, I get a new PSD.
Strangely, my timecards start getting signed by the Regional
Director. I guess that my new PSD has quit.
The company lays off 35% of the senior engineers in the DC office.
The company decides that "engineers" are out and "consultants" are
in. They rename all engineers to consultants. However, they
never send out new business cards so while the sales guys are selling
consulting services, my card still says engineer.
Also, under the new consulting title, no one knows what their title is
any more. I think that I'm a "optimization and performance
consultant", but I'm not sure.
I get a new PSD, now called a Consulting Director (CD)
I'm assigned to a Telco to fix some Oracle problems and work on their
UNIX systems. Very cool assignment. My contract is extended
5 times (1.25 years).
attend all of the all hands meetings, EBITDA is still great.
have my review. I'm excellent, there is no raise, and, my salary
is being cut because the company is lossing money.
I quit the company.