In the Hot Seat with Deloitte Consulting
The Hot Seat is a fast paced interview we hold with current partners or principals at the leading consulting firms. The rules for the hot seat are simple:
- We will not post the interviewee’s identity so they feel no pressure to market their firms.
- We want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
- We want them to bring forth new insight about their firms.
- Interviewees do not see the questions beforehand.
Today’s Interview is with a partner in Deloitte’s Strategy and Operations practice. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB.
Q – Why did you agree to this interview?
A – Besides the obvious reason that you are very persistent! Seriously though, I liked the idea of an anonymous interview. Although this format does not personally change my answers, it removes the pressure of sticking to the so-called party line. This is an opportunity to provide an honest perspective on consulting and Deloitte Consulting. I also think more needs to be written and discussed about DC besides the high-level features and pieces I see in the press and business schools.
Q – Just about everyone I know thinks Deloitte is a tier-2 management consulting practice trying to be McKinsey. What do you say to that?
A – “Tier-2” is your classification and not mine. I do not think we are a tier-2 consulting practice. Neither are we trying to be McKinsey. Most people know only the audit side of Deloitte and use that knowledge to make assumptions about DC. Our work, the kind of people we recruit, our growth, our client response and employee feedback all indicate that we are good and getting better at a very, very fast rate. To me that is more important; the rate of improvement. We have lots of improvements to make. Yet, we are coming of a high base and making these improvements and still growing rapidly. Let me put it another way. In terms of revenue, we are the largest strategy and operations consulting firm in the world. Each year we produce more revenue per a head which can be invested in parts of the business which need to be improved. If we continue growing, continue generating a pool of investment capital and continue investing, we will not just be within the top group; we will be at the top.
My other comment is that a consulting firm is only as good as the results it produces and the feedback of its clients. Everything I mentioned earlier helps us produce excellent client work. Our clients certainly do not see us as anything but a leading firm. I believe that counts for the most.
So to qualify your statement, it’s not everyone who sees us as a tier-2 firm; it’s probably just the people you spoke to.
Q – Management consulting is about first-rate ideas and intellect. How does Deloitte stack up?
A – There are so many ways to prove we are at the forefront of business thought. I will give you a few examples. 1 – John Hagel III and John Seely Brown, two legends in the fields on business technology run our Centre for the Edge out of the East Coast. They are regularly appearing in the Harvard Business Review and other prominent publications. They are just two of many internationally recognized business leaders at Deloitte.2 – Over the last 2 years we recruited more than 50 partners from BCG and McKinsey; including the former editor-in-chief of the McKinsey Quarterly. Most were highly prized leaders in their fields and chose to make their home at Deloitte. 3 – We continue to produce leading ideas and publish them through our Deloitte Review. 4 – In the last 2 years, Deloitte was second to only McKinsey in the number of authors to appear in the Harvard Business Review. 5 – Deloitte has consistently increased its share of graduates from the top business schools. 6 – Cathy Benko who is our global talent officer is regarded as the leader in her field and sits on the HBR Review Committee. Do I need to continue?
Q – I have a McKinsey and Deloitte timesaver. Why are they the same? Did Deloitte copy them?
I saw that on your blog. No, we did not copy anyone. Deloitte Consulting was preceded by Braxton & Associates. A large majority of our initial intellectual property comes from Braxton. The versions of the time-savers you have are newer versions. You can see these [Shown via video conference] much earlier versions from the Touche Ross business. So as you can see, we did not recently produce them. Our original time savers pre-date even the documents you reference. We have had these documents for a very long time in various shape and form.
Q – Beside the US and UK practices, is Deloitte Consulting even worth mentioning in the other regions?
Most definitely. We have a world-class supply chain practice primarily centered in the Netherlands. We have done supply chain strategy work for an impressive list of multi-national companies. That part of the business has tremendous potential. Our Japanese practice has continued to grow very rapidly albeit off a very small base. Our Canadian practice remains one which has a strong foothold in resources, as does our Australian practice. We have grown very fast in the CIS, out of our Moscow office where we are now the largest professional services firm. Our Turkish office has won several landmark studies against significant competition. Our South African office continues to do amazing work and has eclipsed its rivals in the region. We are investing time and money to bring the Brazilian offices to a level where they can manage the enormous workload generated. India and China are also major growth areas for the firm. Those are just some examples. We are a global practice and operate as a global firm with strength around the world.
Q – Consultants are complaining about talent management. Why is that?
A – I am not aware of any complaints so I am not sure how to answer that.
Q – Reviews in both Glassdoor.com and Vault.com imply the lower levels of consulting comprise average people while the partners are very good. What is your response?
A – Maybe our training and development turns new graduate into superb partners. However, the remark is rather strange. No one can know enough of our consultants to legitimately make such a sweeping remark. It’s almost certainly a gross exaggeration.
Q – Why did you join Deloitte Consulting?
I believed in the values of the partners who interviewed me. They were impressive, they promised me an exciting time, interesting work, dynamic clients and a chance to change the world while I developed as a professional. Everything they promised me came true.
It would be great if all candidates today could meet our firm-wide leader for management consulting, Punit Renjen. He espouses our value-system and is the reason for our dramatic improvement.
Q – Management consulting firms are ultimately measured by the number of partners who become executives in Fortune 500 companies. How does Deloitte measure up?
A – I read a statistic somewhere, not sure where, that said somewhere in the region of 15,000 Deloitte Consulting alumni worldwide are in middle to senior management positions. Now if we include the chief-financial-officers in that list this number could quite easily increase five-fold.
Q – What does Deloitte Consulting need to fix?
A- I think there are some obvious things. We need to improve our presence in the market since too many people are still basing their opinions on old information. We are trying to build a uniform brand, practice and skill-set globally. We want to be more responsive to the needs of our clients. We need to increase our investment and development in our people.