3 Communities Consulting Firms Ought to Watch: It’s Not Just Customer Comments that Sting

Envision the TV show “Undercover Boss:” What would the CEO of your firm see if he masqueraded as an employee for a week? Would the firm live up to the values it claims to have? Do employees really take them to heart? How do their attitudes affect the work environment, client relationships and business development efforts?

A firm’s reputation among its current and potential employees is inextricably tied to its external reputation, especially in people-oriented businesses like professional services firms (see Accenture case study here). In the consulting world, McKinsey, Bain and Deloitte are widely recognized for their legendary cultures. How much truth lies within? I can tell you this much: when you dig around online for chatter and information about these organizations, you see overwhelmingly positive messages. They seem to have well-aligned internal and external communication strategies.

But what happens when a consulting firm’s culture isn’t so legendary? How does one find out what life is like on the inside beyond “you know someone who knows someone?” Do they practice what they preach? And when do negative comments/sentiments turn from idle chatter into something to address? Enter: the online listening program. It can be like your own personalized version of “Undercover Boss,” gathering insights about what employees and other important influencers have to say.

A few online communities consulting firms should have on their watch list:


Top-Consultant.com Discussion Forum

  • What Is It? A global discussion forum for people seeking management consulting jobs. Many of the discussions are skewed heavily to the U.K., but there is still decent chatter about U.S.-based firms and offices.
  • Why Pay Attention? If a management consulting firm wants to hear the impressions that potential recruits/outsiders have of them, then take a look around. It’s an active – and opinionated – crowd. People regularly seek job search advice, as well as specific insights about company reputations, work/life balance issues and culture/people. It’s not unusual to see five posts in a day and many will draw upwards of 10+ comments.


  • What Is it? A community and resource of information for job-seekers, where current/former employees can anonymously share their opinions about companies. There is also a consulting blog and discussion board.
  • Why Pay Attention? Search power. GlassDoor.com also gives similar information – and both of these sites pop up regularly in the first two pages of results when searching for information about specific consulting firms. However, Vault has the longevity and thus greater offline awareness, so it still seems to carry more clout. Regardless of how accurate the reviews are, the opinions are out in the open for everyone to read – from your most bitter former employees to the happiest ones.


  • What Is It? A blog written by ex-management consultants for consultants and consulting candidates, which launched in August 2010. The bloggers behind it are also the authors of the book “Succeeding as a Management Consultant.”
  • Why Pay Attention? It’s like a classy/sophisticated version of US Weekly for consultants. If you want a true “insider’s view” of what’s happening inside some of the big consultancies, my friend, you’ve struck gold. A few recent headlines: Documents of Monitor Group Developing Libya’s National Security Apparatus, Former McKinsey Partner Accused of Insider Trading, Annual Management Consulting Rankings. Oh yeah, and there’s helpful advice for job seekers too. Major consulting firms ought to watch for their name to surface, or at least to gather some good intell on the competition.

What would you add?


Photo by olarte.ollie


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