Stucked at a consultant level for almost 5 years

Accenture Career Advise
New answer on May 22, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 13, 2020

Hi,

My concern is how being stucked for almost 5 years on a consultant level affects my future career opportunities.

I joined Accenture Strategy & Consulting in mid-2015 as an experienced hire (5 years) with some managerial experience from the top company in the CEE region. I joined as a Consultant and I still have not been promoted to Manager level while majority (ca. 80%) of the Consultants in the local office get promoted after 3-4 years. I think that in my case it is a combination of misfortune (last FY I did not make chargeability targets due to low demand for my expertise at that time, my project was cancelled and was staffed at a low level roles just to do something), missing on some people management skills (I did not put enough focus on relationships building and developing others). Some of these issues were also due to personal problems (going through a divorce back in 2017-2018).

Despite all of the above my annual performance feedback in 2019 was that I am doing a great job, I was getting positive feedback from projects and generally been considered a highly professional consultant with a great potential, but... I did not make chargeability targets, did not develop others or did not network strong enough with SM/ MDs to have a right visibility within the firm. On the other hand I have not been pro-actively pushing for promotion in the past and I know that some people have been actively doing that all the time.

There is no up or out policy in Accenture so the company wants to keep me as I am highly regarded as a great consultant and they know that I am generally doing great work on projects.

However my concern is that staying at Accenture for any time longer without promotion (COVID can be a great reason this year I am pretty sure about that) will be a huge detriment to my career. I am considering leaving Accenture to pursue managerial opportunities in the smaller consulting companies (got some invitations from recruiters prior to COVID outbreak) or even going back in the industry. On the other hand I have had some experience recruiting for MBB in the past (I reached final interview rounds at McK and BCG some years ago), but my concern is that for MBB I am already out of radar even as an experienced hire due to lack of quick advancement in my career and my age (35).

What would be your advice? Keep pushing in Accenture hoping that I will finally get promoted and do not worry about 5+ years consultant period in my resume? Or leave Accenture immediately and put all efforts to get hired as a manager at a smaller consulting firms? Or finally should I try one more go with MBB experienced hire recruitment (possibly senior consultant/ manager in implementation or operations practice) or is it too late in my case?

(edited)

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Federico
Expert
replied on Apr 13, 2020
Former Bain (4+ years, UK & Italy) | Ardian (France) | Specialized in Case Structuring, Case Cracking and Non-verbal Comm.

Hello Anonymous,

thank you for sharing your story. The best advice I could get from mentors were not answers, but more questions that helped me in reflecting what I could do better and if something need to be changed. So please find below some questions. Crisis are opportunities for change, but shouldn't become traps, by making the wrong assumptions of what the future could hold for us.

1) Let's assume you make the switch to MBB or another job. Are you aware of what you are going to get and what you are going to loose if you switch your job? Are you ready for that?

2) Let's assume you stay at Accenture. Maybe an internal rotation could help you achieve what you are looking for outside Accenture? I wouldn't bother too much about the number of years you spent in the company, what counts is the competences you have.

3) Are your competences up-to-date with respect to what the job market is looking for? Let's think about MBBs. They are interested more and more about technology and digital transformation projects, if your set of competences matches their requirements, you would be definetly an interesting candidate.

4) Think outside the consulting box. Maybe the corporate world could be also an interesting exit to consider? Are you really passionate about consulting? Is this what you really want to work on for the next 5-10 years? You are still on time to make a strong career change.

5) Are you really interested about managing people? In some other jobs, technical leadership is not necessarily requiring managerial expertise, they are not always correlated. You could become a technical expert and have more time to focus on your job, rather than on managing an increasing number of people.

Let your brain spin around these questions. Don't settle. Keep collecting information and data about what your next move could be. You're on the right discovery path.

Good luck,
Federico

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Thomas
CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 13, 2020
150+ interviews | 5+ years experience | Kearney & Accenture | Sold consulting startup| London Business School

Hi there,

That is a very unfortunate situation.. Having worked at Accenture I know that the pyramid is far from healthy and therefore progression tends to be slower. My recommendation would be to apply to a wide variety of firms that you mentioned as there is really only one way to find out. This should give you more insights in your value to MBB but also whether you like smaller consultants. In other words, I would not over strategize this but explore instead.

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 13, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Sorry to hear... Not easy decision.

With the times we are living, don´t leave Accenture until you have secured your next step. At this point, there is too much risk. However, I would look very proactively for a change asap.

Cheers,

Clara

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 13, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I've been working at Accenture and I know that they promote everyone at the end of the day. I doubt you can find any good opportunities nowadays that will provide you with a promotion / significant salary growth. To wait is a safe bet

Best

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Anonymous replied on May 22, 2020

Dear A,

I would definitely propose you to follow 2-sided strategy. On the one hand - try to push for the next promotion cycle, when it is possible, may be in the beginning of 2021 and also, on the other hand, look for opportunities outside the firm. Maybe you could start or continue your career in anther firm, which would give you additional push to your path. I had similar situation back in 2015 and I can also share my learnings with you, feel free to contact me.

Good luck,

André

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Emily
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 30, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi there,

I would agree that the best option now is to stay and keep pushing towards a promotion within Accenture, because (1) going to a smaller firm would not help you much in getting back to a top consulting firm later; (2) trying directly for MBB with 5 years as consultant is very challenging as these firms want to see an upward trajectory; (3) going back to industry could be a practical alternative in normal situation, but for now better to wait til COVID is over.

Best,

Emily

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Anonymous A on Apr 30, 2020
Hi Emily, thank you for your answear. Do you think it would help to get hired by MBB once I am promoted to Manager in Accenture? If yes, I assume that most probably I would be still considered for a (Senior) Consultant roles rather then Project Leader/ Manager positions?

(edited)

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 01, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

thanks for sharing your story. First of all, I would not give up on MBB, you are not on the easiest path to land an offer there but it is not impossible (I helped people to join at a older age than yours).

I would recommend the following:

  1. Apply to MBB via referral once the economy has started to recover. You will need to craft a good story why you stayed as consultant for a long time
  2. If that doesn’t work, apply to second tier and at the same time push to reach a manager position
  3. If that doesn’t work, repeat in 2 years (although you should be willing to have managers far younger than you if that’s the cases)

Best,

Francesco

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Federico gave the best answer

Federico

Former Bain (4+ years, UK & Italy) | Ardian (France) | Specialized in Case Structuring, Case Cracking and Non-verbal Com
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