The ANALyst

Leverage, optimise, synergise

Please Sir, may I not have anymore! Ever!

Apologies for the delay in posting. The last ten days have been abnormally busy with a major client deliverable due this morning. Last night was super busy, even by consulting standards – I finally got to leave the office at 1 am having spent a nonstop 19 hours in the office. A splitting head caused due to the work, hunger and lack of fresh air did not exactly make the situation anymore pleasurable. To compensate for the last two factors I decided to walk back to the hotel and grab some grub from any open 24 hour eatery. The first such eatery was the brand with a big golden M. So revolting is the sight of it, that inspite of my famished state, I chose to move on. A few blocks down the road I spotted a KFC. Now, I don’t normally eat fast food, haven’t in a long time, not since my college days. This is due to a variety of reasons which may (or may not) include image, both literal and metaphorical.

But today was different, somehow the sight of the big red bucket aroused an almost irresistable urge for the eleven-spiced wonder. My steps quickened; I almost cursed myself for not patronising KFC more often. After all, the KFC chain was actually created with food in mind. I walked in to the most delightful aroma. I stared at the menu for what seemed like ten minutes; reacclimatizing myself with their offerings. I decided on a family box, with a few pieces of what looked like hot heavenly chicken and chilled fizzy coke (oops I mean Pepsi).

After an eternity, my tray was handed over to me. On other days, such a sight would make me feel like someone standing on the social welfare queue. But not today. I walked to an empty table, intentionally ignoring the dirt and the grime on the floor, a couple of dead cockroaches, littered tissue paper and torn newspapers. Having sat down, I slowly opened the box, taking in the smell. I picked up a piece of chicken and slowly bit into it, hoping to savour the taste. Yuck!!! Yuck!!! Yuck!!! I spat it out. It felt like raw, cold, slimy meat wrapped in aluminium foil. Disgusting! I can barely ever remember feeling so disgusted while eating. I was about to puke but the sight of the grime on the floor did not permit that. I decided to gulp down some pepsi, after all that is a standard offering. Wrong move! I assure you water from the sewers would probably taste better. I ran out and into the nearest gas station and bought two bottles of water.

I don’t know if this was a one off or if this is a regular occurence. Something tells me it’s the latter. I can’t understand how people bear this nonsense. How do they make their money? Who buys this crap regularly? Have they never tasted real food?

The next time I get to interview prospective campus hires, this will be one of my interview questions and they better not answer they like KFC, if they know what’s good for them.

I walked back to the hotel, still fuming. I wanted redemption. I needed to cleanse my body and my soul. I ordered caviar and a bottle of Dom. Thank God for small mercies.

Moral of the story: KFC – Kentucky F**ked Chicken

April 20, 2009 Posted by | General Rambling | 5 Comments

An Analyst’s Life

Right folks, let’s get back on track. So I have returned from the “orientation” and its time to jump into some real work. On Friday afternoon, I get a call from Satan herself, aka the staffing manager. The staffing manager is (usually) the bitch who controls your fate with regard to which hell hole you end up in. Yes there are different categories of hell, some decidedly worse than others. The conversation between the staffing manager and me goes something like this.

SM: Hi ANALyst, welcome to [firm]. I am sure you are excited for your first real gig.
Me: (enthusiastically) Yeah, can’t wait.
SM: I’ve been told that you have an interest in the financial sector and you like coastal cities.
Me: (very enthusiastically) Yeah absolutely.
SM: Hmm, you have been scheduled for [insert third rate manufacturing firm] in [insert unknown town in Kansas].
(Needless to say the enthusiasm crashes immediately)
Me: Umm, I thought you had something in financial services.
SM: (in an unsympathetic voice)Sorry, not now. You fly out on Monday morning.

At 4 30 am on Monday morning, I am sitting in a cab with the retarded cab driver hell bent on having a conversation. Can’t these nincompoops just shut up for a while. Anyway, its too early in the morning for his words to be coherent. I drift off into sleep. At the airport, I somehow manage to lug my newly acquired Tumi trolley bag into the terminal building. One look at the check-in counter and I thank the heavens for online check-in. Atleast, on a 5 am flight there wont be any pesky kids. WRONG!!! Not only do they exist, they also manage to find the seat right behind you. Arrrghhh, no sleep on the 3 hour flight!!! Oh, and contrary to the popular perception, we do not flight first class on domestic travel. Atleast, not until you get the status to get upgraded. Till then, I am stuck in sheep class. I decide to spend my first pay check on noise cancelling headphones. Glamorous life, yeah right!

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Consulting | 1 Comment

Why the ANALyst?

A few people have asked me why I have named my blog as such. Allow me an attempt at explanation. In my firm, the most junior employees (straight out of college) are titled Analysts / Business Analysts. An Analyst’s job description has been pretty well explained by Consultant Insider in this blog. Hence, I shall not repeat. However, I will illustrate a recent real life experience.

About six months ago, I was involved in a six week engagement helping formulate customer segmentation strategy for one of our clients. My day usually went some what like this:

830 am: The ANALyst walks into the client office.

830 – 9: Read newspapers online.

9 am: Client MD walks in, peeps into my desk.

MD: ANALyst can we have a catch up in my office in ten minutes.

ANALyst: Sure. Be right there.

910 am: ANALyst walks into MD’s office.

MD: Come in. Turn around. Bend forward.

5pm: The ANALyst comes out of MDs office looking tired and dishevelled, when the engagement manager calls out.

EM: ANALyst, I heard you had a fruitful meeting with MD. He has been saying good things about you. However, we need to go over a few things for tomorrows presentation with the CFO. Come here, bend forward.

930 pm: The ANALyst calls a cab, gets to his hotel and drops off for a few hours of relative peace before the routine begins again.

April 11, 2009 Posted by | Consulting | 4 Comments

Is compensation defined by physical effort?

Just came across this letter today in the New York Times. This is a public resignation letter from a Vice President at AIG who decided to quit because he felt betrayed by the firm’s leadership. What got me thinking, more than the letter itself, were some of the comments that were posted in response. People seem to imply that individuals involved in physical labour intensive professions such as coal mining or plumbing should be compensated as much as a Vice President at a multinational financial institution just “because they work as hard”. Clearly this is the most ridiculous statement one can make because we all know (I hope) that compensation is not necessarily a function of effort.

What, then, is it a function off? What defines how much one gets paid. One way of looking at it is that one’s salary is directly proportional to the wealth generated by the individual. Let’s take the example of the now proverbial ‘Joe the plumber’. Let’s assume he is self-employed and earns around $60,000 a year. If he is only able to sell $60k of work, that’s what he earns irrespective of the number of hours he puts in to his job. A consultant gets compensated approximately a third of the fees he or she generates for the firm. Similarly our friend at AIG made around $100m profit in a year and thus felt he was entitled to a few million in bonues – fair enough.

In some professions wealth generated or revenue earnt has no bearing on the compensation. For example, the public sector. Traffic police incomes have no relation to revenue earned through fines. (Atleast one would hope not). Similarly, government tax officers are usually not compensated based on the revenue they bring in by chasing unpaid taxes. Yet a tax accountant does get a cut of the tax dollars he saves for his clients. Weird!

How do you judge the compensation for teachers. Directly they create no wealth. Yet indirectly, the wealth created by their students as a result of the education received could run into trillions. We do not hear of them getting a cut.

It does certainly pose some interesting questions. So what should an ideal compensation model for such professions be?  Are we paying them enough or do they deserve more? Should they be completely outsourced, just because they are seen as a cost and not a creator of wealth or should we be looking at other methods to boos their compensation? Any thoughts?

April 7, 2009 Posted by | General Rambling | 2 Comments

Baptism by Fire

At the end of college, I spent a couple of months gallivanting around the world. Travelled to unknown lands and acquainted many an unknown woman. In the process, I also spent an untold amount of money. (Thank God for the sign on bonuses.)

Alas, all good holidays come to an end! But all was not lost. The time had come to join one of the world’s most exalted professions – to become a member of an elite club indeed. Time to fix the corporate world. Enough said.

Consulting is all about networking. And the firms believe that this point must be emphasised from Day One. My firm was no different. Each year, in the first week of joining, the firm transports all the campus hires to a coastal location for “orientation”. You would think that the orientation would be a pretty relaxed way to begin life at the firm, with lots of booze and meeting up with other campus hires. Wrong! Yes, the other campus hires are there and yes the booze flows freely, but it is anything but relaxed. It is an introduction to the 90 hour work week.

It starts off pretty mildly, with an introduction to the firm by a couple of senior partners. They could probably skip this bit in my opinion as most of this information is easily available on internet forums and blogs and those who can’t search for this information should probably not be in consulting. After a few more minutes of ‘housekeeping’ type stuff, we get down to the real deal. Case Studies!!! Lots of them and intense ones. Since I will talk about real projects in later blogs (ofcourse without client names – I don’t wish to get identified and fired. Not yet atleast), I will not go into much details about these case studies apart from the fact that they do try to simulate the real enviroment as much as possible. Senior firm practitioners facilitating the course act as the ‘clients’, with the partners acting as the ‘CXO’s’.

Now coming to the interesting part – the after work booze. You see, inspite of the rigorous recruiting process, some retards do manage to land into consulting as well. Luckily, most of these people get found out pretty quick. And it all starts at the orientation booze nights. Basically, if you can get through five nights of boozing without doing anything silly, you will be fine. For our female readers, do not hit on the partners, unless, they hit on you first. If they do, then congratulate yourself and take advantage, as this is your first career enhancing move. We had a comical situation where a petite blonde was fancied by atleast two of the partners present. We don’t think she got much real sleep the whole week. Rumour also has it that neither of the two partners knew about the other. Fine consultant she shall make. Word is out that she managed to get a fairly chunky bonus this year.

Tom (name changed), on the other hand, didn’t have such a good week. Challenging a senior partner to drinking games is probably not the best idea. Let’s just say a very solid performance in his first engagement is what saved him from getting “counselled out”.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Consulting | 5 Comments