judgment day

Are you (really) ready for your career’s Judgment Day?

Judgment Day, in the lens of your career, is the day upon which you are called to make a decision on a career-altering or path-defining opportunity. Most strategy consultants face Judgment Day with their first move out of consulting. For most professionals, it is a series of Judgment Days that, together, will define their individual careers.

With our collective insight as an executive search firm – having watched the good, the bad, and the ugly of 40+ years of Judgment Days past – we’re here to help our candidates on Judgment Day. Once an offer (or multiple offers) hits the table, reality sinks in, and the difficulty of the actual decisions at hand can take many-an-executive by surprise.

Here are some real scenarios we have seen play out, for better and for worse:

  • A current Vice President and former top consultant, offered an SVP role at lesser company, for a large increase in compensation.
  • A Junior Partner in consulting with an objective to be a CEO, offered a COO role at a couple-billion-dollar company, and then a counteroffer by his consulting firm to be an immediate Partner (with a more sizable and immediate financial incentive).
  • A Senior Manager in consulting, offered a Vice President role with a struggling company, as well as a Senior Director role with a great, growing company (but for much less money).

What would you do?  While advice along the lines of “make good decisions” can seem trite, that same advice can be of incredible value in a pressure cooker scenario, when your moral compass threatens to become clouded in the face of difficult, career-altering decisions.

Applying sound judgment on Judgment Day will demand the best of you:

Strength of character, long-term focus, and an almost inhuman ability to look beyond the immediate needs of your next 1-2 years.  In our recent interview with Brian Slobodow, Operating Executive for Golden Gate Capital, he recounted the Judgment Days of current and former consultants he has witnessed (missteps included):

“Far too often I see people get hung up on cash compensation early in their careers – they won’t tolerate anything less than what they are making in consulting or their first few roles, or they’ll only take a 5% reduction, and they reject any opportunity beneath that threshold. That kind of thinking is crazy to me. Your decisions, and the moves you make early on, should be 100% focused on how they build your career and maximize both your experience and exposure.

It’s the decisions that come from giving short term gains the priority (versus focusing on the longer term) that will prevent you from opportunities you want when you get to the later stages of your career like where I am today….[people] justified not moving for all sorts of reasons – they wouldn’t have a fancy staff, or they stayed in consulting because it was comfortable for them. And those decisions may have been right for them at the time, but they didn’t focus on building the career, and the story, that’s necessary for the job. You’re not just going to wake up one day and be COO or CEO of a private equity-backed $500mn+ company.”

– Brian Slobodow, Operating Executive, Golden Gate Capital | A.T. Kearney Alumni