Altman Vilandrie & Company FAQ

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3 English questions out of 3

15 January 2020

What is a typical working day like at Altman Vilandrie & Company?

Pros

Both the pros and cons were written up during my time at the company, edited only slightly with the benefit of hindsight and perspective that comes from having worked elsewhere. 1. The industry focus allows you to learn a lot, quickly. After a year or so you will likely have accumulated enough experience in a few topics to hit the ground running on a new project. This pace of learning is especially valuable since no traditional undergraduate degree will truly prepare you for consulting. You will also need to become a jack of all trades, since the small size means there's not much support with data analytics etc. 2. Size & culture - when I was there, the place had a fun culture, and hopefully there is still some of that left. The company's size is small enough to be on a first name basis with almost everyone, and at least the Boston office is large enough to have some diversity. Friday happy hours are a good way to bond with your peers, but you’re unlikely to find many managers or above in attendance. 3. Low travel. This means you get to sleep in your own bed - on the flipside, not a lot of client exposure (I had only three projects at a client site over three years.) 4. They’ve really tried to limit weekend work. That’s probably only worth highlighting because it was slightly absurd before (working ~50% of the weekends in my first few months). You will still be working late (9-10pm average, with 3 am not unheard of) during the week. 5. There will be some really talented people in your class. >50% of them will be gone by the 2-year mark though. 6. Recruiters know the name, so you might get offers to interview at Uber or Microsoft, but don’t expect the firm's connections to be very helpful. Limited exit opportunities if you’re looking for anything outside of telecom/tech though.

Cons

Whether these are negatives depends somewhat on your expectations and who you're comparing the company to. 1. Telecom is the first and foremost T in the company’s TMT-focus. Make sure you can imagine yourself doing due diligence (50% of my time, 60% of projects) on B2B networking products and telecom infrastructure (cell towers, data centers, and lots of fiber) for an extended period of time. Any tech or media projects you might come across are very likely to be related to telecom. 2. The work is typically rather dull. If you do get a strategy project (the remaining 40% of projects, and arguably more interesting), you will spend the vast majority of the time working with one of the two major telecoms in the US. You will tend to work with their mid-level managers, analyzing customer data or building a more accurate market forecast - in many ways, “strategy consulting” here is a euphemism for customized market research. Not to be too harsh, but most of the analyst job could probably be done by people out of high school. Maybe the same is true for other consulting companies, I can’t say for certain, but it's hardly intellectually stimulating. 3. You rarely get to pick the project you will work on next, though the folks responsible for staffing are very understanding (e.g. they might put you on the beach for a little bit longer after a series of private equity projects). This is largely a feature of the company’s size and niche. 4. Your projects will be short (1 month average for me) - this is both good and bad. Most terrible projects will be over soon, and you can move on quickly. At the same time, the short duration of the projects stems from the rather piecemeal nature of the work, so your team is rarely involved in figuring out the big picture. Similarly, the rapid project turnover means there is limited opportunity for any serious mentorship and analysts are often seen by management as "resources" to be allocated, not young colleagues to be mentored. I personally always found my longer projects to be the most rewarding.

Advice to Management

This is 100% my opinion, but I'd say that the partners usually exhibit poor leadership, with a few notable, but rare exceptions. Having worked with 9 out of the 11 directors (partners) at the time, many of them rose through the ranks because they often did more work than necessary, not because they are good at motivating teams (though they presumably aspire to be). A few are even notorious for their anger management issues, which are hopefully being addressed through the executive coaching classes.

You will still be working late (9-10pm average, with 3 am not unheard of) during the week.

15 January 2020

See answer

15 January 2020

What are working conditions like at Altman Vilandrie & Company?

Pros

Both the pros and cons were written up during my time at the company, edited only slightly with the benefit of hindsight and perspective that comes from having worked elsewhere. 1. The industry focus allows you to learn a lot, quickly. After a year or so you will likely have accumulated enough experience in a few topics to hit the ground running on a new project. This pace of learning is especially valuable since no traditional undergraduate degree will truly prepare you for consulting. You will also need to become a jack of all trades, since the small size means there's not much support with data analytics etc. 2. Size & culture - when I was there, the place had a fun culture, and hopefully there is still some of that left. The company's size is small enough to be on a first name basis with almost everyone, and at least the Boston office is large enough to have some diversity. Friday happy hours are a good way to bond with your peers, but you’re unlikely to find many managers or above in attendance. 3. Low travel. This means you get to sleep in your own bed - on the flipside, not a lot of client exposure (I had only three projects at a client site over three years.) 4. They’ve really tried to limit weekend work. That’s probably only worth highlighting because it was slightly absurd before (working ~50% of the weekends in my first few months). You will still be working late (9-10pm average, with 3 am not unheard of) during the week. 5. There will be some really talented people in your class. >50% of them will be gone by the 2-year mark though. 6. Recruiters know the name, so you might get offers to interview at Uber or Microsoft, but don’t expect the firm's connections to be very helpful. Limited exit opportunities if you’re looking for anything outside of telecom/tech though.

Cons

Whether these are negatives depends somewhat on your expectations and who you're comparing the company to. 1. Telecom is the first and foremost T in the company’s TMT-focus. Make sure you can imagine yourself doing due diligence (50% of my time, 60% of projects) on B2B networking products and telecom infrastructure (cell towers, data centers, and lots of fiber) for an extended period of time. Any tech or media projects you might come across are very likely to be related to telecom. 2. The work is typically rather dull. If you do get a strategy project (the remaining 40% of projects, and arguably more interesting), you will spend the vast majority of the time working with one of the two major telecoms in the US. You will tend to work with their mid-level managers, analyzing customer data or building a more accurate market forecast - in many ways, “strategy consulting” here is a euphemism for customized market research. Not to be too harsh, but most of the analyst job could probably be done by people out of high school. Maybe the same is true for other consulting companies, I can’t say for certain, but it's hardly intellectually stimulating. 3. You rarely get to pick the project you will work on next, though the folks responsible for staffing are very understanding (e.g. they might put you on the beach for a little bit longer after a series of private equity projects). This is largely a feature of the company’s size and niche. 4. Your projects will be short (1 month average for me) - this is both good and bad. Most terrible projects will be over soon, and you can move on quickly. At the same time, the short duration of the projects stems from the rather piecemeal nature of the work, so your team is rarely involved in figuring out the big picture. Similarly, the rapid project turnover means there is limited opportunity for any serious mentorship and analysts are often seen by management as "resources" to be allocated, not young colleagues to be mentored. I personally always found my longer projects to be the most rewarding.

Advice to Management

This is 100% my opinion, but I'd say that the partners usually exhibit poor leadership, with a few notable, but rare exceptions. Having worked with 9 out of the 11 directors (partners) at the time, many of them rose through the ranks because they often did more work than necessary, not because they are good at motivating teams (though they presumably aspire to be). A few are even notorious for their anger management issues, which are hopefully being addressed through the executive coaching classes.

The company's size is small enough to be on a first name basis with almost everyone, and at least the Boston office is large enough to have some diversity.

15 January 2020

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15 January 2020

What kind of work are different roles expected to perform at Altman Vilandrie & Company?

Pros

Both the pros and cons were written up during my time at the company, edited only slightly with the benefit of hindsight and perspective that comes from having worked elsewhere. 1. The industry focus allows you to learn a lot, quickly. After a year or so you will likely have accumulated enough experience in a few topics to hit the ground running on a new project. This pace of learning is especially valuable since no traditional undergraduate degree will truly prepare you for consulting. You will also need to become a jack of all trades, since the small size means there's not much support with data analytics etc. 2. Size & culture - when I was there, the place had a fun culture, and hopefully there is still some of that left. The company's size is small enough to be on a first name basis with almost everyone, and at least the Boston office is large enough to have some diversity. Friday happy hours are a good way to bond with your peers, but you’re unlikely to find many managers or above in attendance. 3. Low travel. This means you get to sleep in your own bed - on the flipside, not a lot of client exposure (I had only three projects at a client site over three years.) 4. They’ve really tried to limit weekend work. That’s probably only worth highlighting because it was slightly absurd before (working ~50% of the weekends in my first few months). You will still be working late (9-10pm average, with 3 am not unheard of) during the week. 5. There will be some really talented people in your class. >50% of them will be gone by the 2-year mark though. 6. Recruiters know the name, so you might get offers to interview at Uber or Microsoft, but don’t expect the firm's connections to be very helpful. Limited exit opportunities if you’re looking for anything outside of telecom/tech though.

Cons

Whether these are negatives depends somewhat on your expectations and who you're comparing the company to. 1. Telecom is the first and foremost T in the company’s TMT-focus. Make sure you can imagine yourself doing due diligence (50% of my time, 60% of projects) on B2B networking products and telecom infrastructure (cell towers, data centers, and lots of fiber) for an extended period of time. Any tech or media projects you might come across are very likely to be related to telecom. 2. The work is typically rather dull. If you do get a strategy project (the remaining 40% of projects, and arguably more interesting), you will spend the vast majority of the time working with one of the two major telecoms in the US. You will tend to work with their mid-level managers, analyzing customer data or building a more accurate market forecast - in many ways, “strategy consulting” here is a euphemism for customized market research. Not to be too harsh, but most of the analyst job could probably be done by people out of high school. Maybe the same is true for other consulting companies, I can’t say for certain, but it's hardly intellectually stimulating. 3. You rarely get to pick the project you will work on next, though the folks responsible for staffing are very understanding (e.g. they might put you on the beach for a little bit longer after a series of private equity projects). This is largely a feature of the company’s size and niche. 4. Your projects will be short (1 month average for me) - this is both good and bad. Most terrible projects will be over soon, and you can move on quickly. At the same time, the short duration of the projects stems from the rather piecemeal nature of the work, so your team is rarely involved in figuring out the big picture. Similarly, the rapid project turnover means there is limited opportunity for any serious mentorship and analysts are often seen by management as "resources" to be allocated, not young colleagues to be mentored. I personally always found my longer projects to be the most rewarding.

Advice to Management

This is 100% my opinion, but I'd say that the partners usually exhibit poor leadership, with a few notable, but rare exceptions. Having worked with 9 out of the 11 directors (partners) at the time, many of them rose through the ranks because they often did more work than necessary, not because they are good at motivating teams (though they presumably aspire to be). A few are even notorious for their anger management issues, which are hopefully being addressed through the executive coaching classes.

Make sure you can imagine yourself doing due diligence (50% of my time, 60% of projects) on B2B networking products and telecom infrastructure (cell towers, data centers, and lots of fiber) for an extended period of time.

15 January 2020

See answer

3 English questions out of 3