Word is that PwC is sending more than 25% of its consulting staff, “Advisory Services,” to permanent “out of pocket” status.
As we speak, sources tell me that up to 1000 professionalswill be told they have no job, with many having their last day this Friday. The Global Leader of the Advisory Services Practice, Juan Pujadas, is rumored to be out and an internal turnaround guy from the Northeast said to be teed up to lead the practice or what’s going to be left of it. Cuts are said to be not necessarily focused on any one group, but spread amongst all, with each partner asked to sacrifice a few to make the numbers. Pujadas is one of the few partners expected to suffer an actual job loss. That’s just not how they do things there.
My contacts tell me that the partners have been attending workshops over the last several months to learn how to fire people.
So what went wrong? As if I hadn’t already told you what was wrong with this gang…
Their growth targets for the last fiscal year ending June 30, 2007 were aggressive. They wanted to hit a US$ Billion and came up quite short. Partners were asked to take a cut in their payouts as a consequence.
Well, the audit partners could not have liked that much. When PwC sold what consulting practice they had to IBM in 2002, they also got rid of any one who actually knew how to do consulting. Recycling some more audit partners to try to revive the practice and hiring experienced consultants en masse the last two years was not going to work. The culture there does not accept outsiders easily. Consultants who knew what it takes to compete, and compete was what they had to do, were not going to function well under converted audit partners who didn’t know how to run a consulting firm.
There are some practices there that work well… Tax, investigations, a few other niches that play on their strengths. But much of the rest, including their internal audit practice which was pulled out of the audit practice and put under Pujadas in mid-2005, were nothing more than glorified staff augmentation practices. There were a few scattered technical experts who sold the work to the client, but not enough experienced consultants to actually manage the work on an ongoing basis. That’s not the audit partner style anyway, to actually be on the client site doing any work. The hands-on style I grew up with at KPMG Consulting/Bearing Point was not evident in the “consulting” practices of PwC. As we’ve seen, the audit practices have a hard time getting a partner to spend more than 2-3 % of their time on the engagement. That just won’t work for high-stakes implementation project.
So the audit partners have pulled the plug. Rather than rationalizing expectations, focusing on a few select practice areas and trying to gain something other than “assess and recommend” credentials, they’re retrenching. Probably a good idea, given all the cash that’s needed for their ongoing litigation.
My experience, and the experience of many of the “experienced” hires who have been through the PwC meatgrinder and spoke to me, is this:
Their partners are:
- Secretive about goals, objectives and results.
- Don’t answer emails if the question is unpleasant, avoid conflict, encourage get-along, go-along attitude.
- Are better in a situation where they can judge past actions, not advocate or take a position on the future. (That’s an audit mentality not a consulting mentality.)
- Expect a servile attitude from managers and staff.
- Expect that servile attitude to carry forward to clients. However, clients lose respect when you don’t take a position, take a stand, make decisions.
- Don’t know how to ask for the work, compete, or measure their effectiveness in delivering value to clients.
- Don’t know how to leverage business development professionals to manage the sales process while the partners manage the sales content.