The Boutique vs The Goliath

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. After working at SystemExperts for 6 years as its Director of Business Development, I left in early 2007 to take a position as North America Sales Director for a security practice within a large global consulting firm. As a son of a high-level executive of a Fortune 500 company and a former professional athlete, I thought I had been called up to the consulting world’s version of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. When I arrived for my first day in the firm’s newly renovated Boston office complete with leather chairs and Plasma TVs, that sentiment only grew. I had arrived.

A funny thing happened as the newness wore off and I started working the job – eventually, once 401k allocations are set and we decide which health plans best fit our families’ needs, we have to work the job – I discovered that I missed the boutique world. The glitz and glamour of working for the self proclaimed ‘gold-standard’ could not match the opportunity that I have at SystemExperts to roll up my sleeves with quality people of unmatched commitment to the client, not individual careers or quarterly metrics to meet The Street’s expectations.

I enjoyed my time at the large firm and consider myself a better professional because of it. But I am guessing that there are folks out there reading this blog that know exactly what I mean when I say that a perfect storm of operational conference calls to report on the report that you reported, unfortunate internal politics, and an ever growing list of internal processes can get in the way of what you were hired to do. To battle these predictably unpredictable inefficiencies, the goliath charges more and bills at T&M. Here at SystemExperts, we are nimble enough to not have, and for that matter not need, excessive internal processes. This allows us to charge less, do the same if not better work quicker, and conduct that work at a fixed priced. I would imagine that is reflective of other boutiques across varying industries as well.

A 50% employee turn-over rate at the bigger firm makes it difficult to develop and maintain project momentum and client relationship continuity. To battle that, you are asked to sell the company, the project approach, and methodology, not the people. Here at SystemExperts, our people are one of our differentiators and given that our practice has existed longer than all of the Big Four security practices, I do not hesitate to sell not only our company, project approach and methodologies, but the persons working the project. They are some of the best and proud to work for their company.

I have worked in both arenas with equal enthusiasm and passion for success. I am one of the lucky ones. I am thrilled to be back in the boutique consulting world and even more excited that it is with SystemExperts. If that big firm is, in fact, the equivalent of the Dallas Cowboys, consider SystemExperts the Green Bay Packers, a team with admittedly smaller resources but champions and professionals through and through.

P.S. I am a New England Patriots fan.

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