Consultant for almost a month

Incredible how time flies. It feels like yesterday that I was going from interview to interview and wondered where will I end up and what will my salary be like.

Spoiler: the hard negotiated first offer was shite…

In the end, despite having turned down one Big4 firm, I landed a job at another, just over a month later. At this stage I turned down a job at another large local investment fund administrator. One would have thought that perhaps I have some sort of amazing skill that put me in high demand.

Well, no.

I just have the experience everyone on this island wanted. It was funny to think that there will be such a demand for my industry knowledge when the industry is just so tiny. To give an example of how tiny – the entire industry would fit into my ex-employer’s financials twice over. This also means that the same client is milked over and over again.

And in the end, the basic salary is almost the same as in the UK. I am unaware of any bonuses to be received, and from my experience in London, I know that the level offered in practice is waaaaayyy lower than in the industry. I am not holding my breath. I negotiated my salary and I know that now there are very high expectations from me and I don’t even know, if I can meet them!

Oh, and forget pension. It just does not exist here. The private pension pots that I had in London will likely sit there for a long while, until I figure out what to do with them- and that’s no easy task, even though I have left the country for good.

So what is it like to be a consultant in a small regional office?

Boring indeed. There is ten of us in the team, including two partners, of which one is about to retire this winter and the other in a couple of years. So nobody intends to break their back for work.

It’s kinda nice to be able to finish work by 5.30 but it sucks for how uneventful every day is.

So what has changed compared to my previous roles? Surely it’s not very different, Finance is Finance, right? And I have always been praised for my pro-activity and my drive to get things done. But I realised that for that I need a bit of pressure so I actually deliver, otherwise I procrastinate a lot.

I had a chat with the boss and told her about my procrastination issues and she basically told me how the first assignment will be tough and I will just need to deal with it. I guess this goes for any job, not just consulting.

I know that people love lists of how to cope but in this post there won’t be any. One just has to work.

When you work in industry, it’s not likely that anyone will watch how you spend your time unless you miss a deadline. In consulting we are expected to keep track of how we spend our day, every day. When you spend a lot of time procrastinating, you get stressed that you cannot charge all that time to a client and make the project loss-making. I do hope that soon I will start working overtime and I will not charge all those hours to clients. Otherwise I will get kicked out, which may also not be such a horrible thing.

Another item that surprised me fairly a lot was just how little there is organised for staff or by staff. My ex worked at one of the Big4 in London and they were hanging out every night, whether at events or in the pub. No networking, no craziness here though. Everyone seems to be either married or in a solid relationship and they head home after work.

But they are allowed to have a job on side- most of the locals work as lecturers at the University of Malta. They say for pocket money but how do they need pocket money? Th y get paid a lot and there is nothing to spend it on, so it’s beyond me.

I was also surprised to see how little there is in terms of feedback. Once again, my ex had all sorts of mentors and sessions with management so he could be graded for promotions… I thought perhaps for experienced hires this is different. After discussions with junior colleagues I simply know that’s not the case.

Most professionals also know that the top consulting firms look for the top talent (like me!) to take the firm to the next level of awesomeness, but that’s only if you asked for permission to do anything, I think even farting. I touched upon this before but it is ridiculous how little personality is expected from you. For everything there are templates to use, and whole lot of instructions including type and size of fonts.

So instead of awesome individuals it appears that all is needed is smart sheep.


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