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EC Harris and Co.

 
#1 EC Harris and Co.
18/10/2012 08:50

Barnes83

I've applied to all of the mainstream Consultancies without much luck which I think is mainly due to my average A level grades (BBC) and my degree from an OK university (Brunel).

As I've been working in Construction Engineering for the last five years and I have a 1st Class honours degree in Engineering, I'm now considering Management Consultancy in the Construction Sector.

I was wondering, would it be possible to go into more 'mainstream' Management Consultancies such as ACN or Deloitte after a few years at a company like EC Harris or similar?? If not how does the consulting experience and pay in a Construction consultancy compare to that of a mainstream consultancy??

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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#2 RE: EC Harris and Co.
18/10/2012 09:35

presidentbartlet to Barnes83 (#1)

At ACN you'll be considered a graduate and therefore fall into scope for the AAB requirement until 2 years. After that you're an experienced hire so it's what you'll have done in those 2 years that will count rather than your grades (as much).

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#3 RE: EC Harris and Co.
18/10/2012 11:11

Barnes83 to presidentbartlet (#2)

Thanks for your comment. I did actually apply for an experienced hire role but didn't have any luck despite my experience as an engineering consultant, which I think is clearly relevant and requires many skills that are transferable to a management consultancy role.

Do you have any thoughts on the possibility of moving into a mainstream consultancy after a few years in a management consultancy in the construction sector?

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#4 RE: EC Harris and Co.
18/10/2012 13:00

presidentbartlet to Barnes83 (#3)

Thanks for your comment. I did actually apply for an experienced hire role but didn't have any luck despite my experience as an engineering consultant, which I think is clearly relevant and requires many skills that are transferable to a management consultancy role.

Do you have any thoughts on the possibility of moving into a mainstream consultancy after a few years in a management consultancy in the construction sector?

Afraid not, I'm an ACN lifer, am sure some more worldly wise people on here can help.

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#5 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 09:10

abc123 to presidentbartlet (#4)

I know that a lot of consultancies will stick to their A-Level requirements even for experienced hires (I'm not for one minute suggesting that's a good thing!)

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#6 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 10:03

DCF to Barnes83 (#1)

Would you be aiming to join EC Harris as a management consultant, rather than in a more technical role? And is your existing experience in something transferrable such as project management, or is it more narrowly technical?

It might be possible to join Accenture or Deloitte after a stint there. However, EC Harris is still rooted in the infrastructure sector - I don't imagine you will be doing "mainstream" consulting by service/sector, so this does limit options. Other firms primarily known as engineers or surveyors also do a bit of this type of management consulting - Arup, Davis Langdon, Atkins, Mott Macdonald. However people do move from these firms to mainstream consultancies -perhaps not very often but I can think of at least one person who works at Deloitte who used to be at Arup.

Another possibility - depending on your experience - would be programme and project management somewhere like PA or a specialist firm. Not sure how you would fare with your A Level grades - the degree may or may not compensate.

As far as I'm aware the only mainstream consultancies with a construction specialism are Deloitte (as part of "Real Estate Consulting" in their Corporate Finance service line) and PwC (Capital Projects team), which both recruit engineers. However I think they might not consider you due to your A Level grades. Might be worth a try though.

I don't know what EC Harris pays - imagine they have to pay a bit more to their management consultants than their surveyors. I suspect it would be a fair bit lower than the Big 4 though.

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#7 EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 11:14

Barnes83 to abc123 (#5)

To abc 123: I personally can’t see the logic in placing such a large emphasis on A-level grades for experienced hires. I don’t see how a company could possibly think a person’s A-level grades, which are achieved at the age of around 18 years old, are a good reflection of what they are capable of contributing to a company almost a decade (sometimes even more) later. Personally I know I have changed completely since I was at the age when I took my A-levels; in terms of my outlook on life, work ethic, ambition and in many other areas so to be judged on what my achievements were so long ago is unrealistic to say the least, especially when I went on the achieve a 1st Class honours degree a few years later.

Apparently I wouldn’t be as useful to a company as someone who got ABB at A level but then only went on to achieve a 2:1 in their degree… I’m not for a moment saying a 2:1 isn’t a great achievement, but I just don’t see the logic in it.

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#8 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 11:31

Barnes83 to DCF (#6)

Yes I would be aiming to join as a management Consultant, I’ve been working as an Engineering Consultant and I think the role definitely has transferrable skills. I often speak with a friend of mine who is actually a Management Consultant and to be honest there really doesn’t sound like there’s a large difference between our roles. My role is fairly technical but at the same time there’s a large requirement for other skills due to there being a lot of interaction with client’s and other parties, information gathering, presentation and in fact some project management so yes, I think there are many transferrable skills.

Due to me not having any luck getting into the mainstream consultancies I think I’ll try to go into one of the consultancies in the construction sector. It may not be what I originally had in mind but it’s still management consultancy at the end of the day which I really want to get into and if it would give me half a chance of getting into a mainstream consultancy at some point in future then I suppose it’s worth doing. I may actually really enjoy being in the construction sector anyway.

Thanks for your detailed response, it’s certainly given me a few things to think about. I’ll also be looking at the possibility of a job in project/ programme management.

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#9 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 11:54

DCF to Barnes83 (#8)

I appreciate the ongoing emphasis on A Level grades may seem unfair or irrational but these firms often get a huge volume of applications. For my team the ratio of applications received to offers made is in the hundreds - really. A lot of people will have good degrees and good experience - so all other things being equal they will pick the candidate with the better A Levels.

There are also elements of:

1. "That's the standard for graduate entry so why should we relax it";

2. A Levels possibly being more consistent than degrees - it is much easier to get a first at certain places and in certian subjects; and

3. The belief that great academic results all the way through are reflective of the most solid intellect and work ethic.

I appreciate this doesn't really help. But if you can demonstrate some impressive achievements on top of your degree and can craft a good application, why not give it a shot. Marginal risk that your application automatically gets binned by HR but you may as well try. I would recommend going via a decent recruitment consultant if possible though, as they may be able to give you an homnest assesssment and perhaps sound out the decision makers informally on your behalf.

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#10 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 11:55

DCF to DCF (#9)

Also, do you have any professional qualifications?

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#11 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 12:24

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Barnes83 (#7)

"I personally can’t see the logic in placing such a large emphasis on A-level grades for experienced hires. I don’t see how a company could possibly think a person’s A-level grades, which are achieved at the age of around 18 years old, are a good reflection of what they are capable of contributing to a company almost a decade (sometimes even more) later. Personally I know I have changed completely since I was at the age when I took my A-levels"

I doubt it. A leopard never changes its spots.

In many ways, I'd say A-levels are actually a better indicator of raw intellect, maturity and personality than a degree result.

The kids at school that used to stick pencils up their nose and blow faces on the classroom window are still idiots, even though they all now have 2:1s in Environmental Science or Film Studies. Just because they're older, it doesn't follow that they have somehow "changed" or become more respectable or intelligent - they're still idiots when you get ot the core of it, they have just learnt how to more effectively "mask" their underlying traits.

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#12 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 13:45

Barnes83 to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#11)

Thank you for your response, but I disagree with the majority of points you’ve made. A-level results aren’t an indicator of raw intellect at all, there are many reasons why people don’t succeed at exams besides intellectual ability and to suggest otherwise is just narrow-minded. I hate to point out the obvious but some of the most respected and successful people in society never completed formal education: Steve Jobs, Lord Alan Sugar, Sir Philip Green, the list is endless... Are these people all idiots that you’d never think of employing because they didn’t achieve the right A-levels?

To say that a person’s personality and attitude couldn’t change from the age of 18 is just shocking. I agree that ‘some’ of the class idiots from school haven’t changed but you can’t possibly believe that as a result of the encounters a person goes through from childhood (which you essentially are at 18) to adulthood there’s no possibility of them adopting a more mature attitude towards their life and therefore taking things such as university and their career more seriously??

There may be some truth in what you say about certain people masking their idiocy behind certain simple degrees (not discounting anyone that did take an ‘easier’ degree) but you can’t take your experience of a few people and take that as a generalisation for people who didn’t achieve an ABB in their A-levels. As a partner in a firm I’d quite frankly expect you to have a more enlightened view on life.

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#13 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 14:19

Barnes83 to DCF (#9)

Despite my frustration with the situation, I do (reluctantly!!) see why there may be a need to use A-levels to filter through the large number of job applicants who may have both good degree results and relevant work experience. I won’t however allow this to stop me in my efforts to enter the industry and will certainly be looking at ways to amend my applications in an aim to show my capability to perform in my desired role. I haven’t got any formal qualifications that I feel would be relevant to the role I’m applying for unfortunately but I’m sure if I have a think about it I could throw in a few achievements outside of work that might help my cause.

Thanks again for your advice, it’s been a great help.

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#14 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 15:40

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Barnes83 (#12)

Barnes, why not try applying for smaller companies? Small companies are great. They can offer you more responsibility and give you space to grow more quickly. You'll make good contacts and interact directly with clients. Only the Big 4 and the like have such bureaucratic rules that they'll reject a good candidate because they don't tick certain boxes.

Lord Alan Sugar is great by the way. He's like a big, gruff, cuddly teddy bear. I bet he's a real softie at heart. And I can't imagine him stuffing crayons up his nose as a kid, either!

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#15 RE: EC Harris and Co.
19/10/2012 16:57

Barnes83 to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#14)

Partner, I have actually started doing that as I've recognised that the entry requirements aren't always as strict and from working in both large and small companies in Engineering Consultancy I've definetly seen the benefits of working in small companies when considering speed of progression and the opportunity to be thrown in at the deep end.

I'll carry on in my search for smaller companies to approach. Thanks for your advice.

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#16 RE: EC Harris and Co.
21/10/2012 14:04

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Barnes83 (#15)

You're welcome. Smaller companies have a lot going for them. They may not have the brand recognition, but they are often great places to work and often don't suffer from the same degree of internal bureaucracy as the larger ones.

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