Written by Umang Saini
ConsultI am sharing links to a short series of articles written by a 22 year old MIT graduate. He joined BCG Dubai as a consultant in June 2009 at $200k + benefits. He was fired 9 months later.
These were published in the April 2010 edition of MIT's Tech magazine. The third article is particularly thought provoking.
- Part 1 – The city of tomorrow - If it sounds too good to be true, maybe it is
- Part 2 – Welcome to your Caste - If you’re not an Emirati, you’re just a carpetbagger
- Part 3 – The story BCG offered me $16,000 not to tell - The city was strange and the society unnerving, but what disturbed me the most about my experience in Dubai was my job as a business consultant.
- Part 4 – Dispatches from the collapse - For the city whose solution to every problem was money, there would eventually come a day when money became the problem
“If there is an urban analogue to shock and awe military campaigns, Dubai is it. Giant malls, grand hotels, towering skyscrapers, indoor ski slopes, islands shaped like palm trees; to be poetic about it, what the mind imagines, the Emiratis built."
“After a few hours of exploration one gets the feeling that Dubai is not so much a city as a giant sprawling suburb, an insipid tessellation of apartment buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, and office parks, plopped unceremoniously into a barren desert."
“Caught offguard by the global recession, Dubai’s haphazard expansion has been frozen in mid-stride for all the world to gawk at, like rubberneckers at a traffic accident. Its unfinished metro system, a patch-work solution to an awkward, poorly planned network of roads, connects partially built apartments to idle construction sites.”
“Seven months in the Middle East had taught me only one lesson: Even in the best of circumstances, business consulting can be a morally ambiguous and soul-crushing profession."
“What I learned is that burning out isn’t just about work load, it’s about work load being greater than the motivation to do work.”
“What I could not get my head around was having to force-fit analysis to a conclusion.”
“Who was I kidding? I wasn’t going to donate half my salary to Red Cross. I was going to deposit it into an index fund and speed off as soon as I was sure there was enough gas in the car. The conscience is a pesky thing. It was no consolation that I had gotten the moral calculus to work out in my favor. I should have been the most relaxed man on the planet”
“There is an interesting kabuki dance to be done when crafting figures to fit a conclusion. The conclusion may be wrong, but you still need to make it believable.”
“The classic “find me a rock” story is as follows: A manager goes to his engineer one day and asks for a rock. “A rock?” asks the engineer. “Yes, a rock. That isn’t going to be a problem, is it?” replies the manager. The engineer laughs and tells the manager he’ll go pick one up during his lunch break and it will be no problem. After lunch, the manager visits the engineer again and the engineer shows him the rock. The manager looks at it for a moment before telling the engineer, “No, that one won’t work at all. I need a rock.”
“From the very beginning of my employment, I hadn’t met a single employee who planned on staying with the company — all of them were scrambling for lifeboats, trying to land cushy jobs with cash-stuffed clients or find their way back to their home countries.”
"I would argue that consultants are a product of their surroundings, not the other way around"--