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Recruiting between firms - gentleman's agreement?

Posted by Khaled Kteily on in Networking & Reputation
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I recently read an article on The Verge discussing various 'gentleman's agreements' between the major tech companies. Fascinating to see the insider's perspective on this - as well as copies of the actual e-mails sent to and from top execs at Apple, Google, Adobe, etc. 

Steve Jobs, for example, writes an e-mail to Ed Colligan, the President and CEO of Palm at the time, stating that their recruiting techniques were "not satisfactory to Apple". 

It's well worth the read, and gets you thinking; do consulting firms have similar agreements in place? You don't hear much about consultants being poached between one firm and another (at least below the partner level). Is this intentional or due to other factors? 

I suspect there's a couple of factors at play here: 

1. Losing consultants to one another is a net loss to both firms. If McKinsey loses a consultant to Bain and vice versa, they both take a hit to their reputation. If they lose consultants to industry/MBA/entrepreneurship, that's not an issue at all. 

2. If you're at a major consulting firm (Big 3, OW, Monitor-Deloitte, Booz, etc.) you're not likely to see a dramatic change in the type of work you do. While some firms have different approaches and different project work, you're likely to develop a fairly similar consulting toolkit across firms. I'd be curious what it's like between different tech firms. 

3. Engineering is an IQ role, whereas consulting is more a combination of IQ and EQ. An engineer who does something impressive ("I built xyz piece of software") can more easily prove his smarts. A consultant who did something impressive ("I ran xyz module successfully and independently") is more difficult to verify, especially because there was likely a partner at the top handling the big questions. Proving yourself independently is easier than proving yourself when working in a team.

4. Still - reputations travel quickly, and anyone who's read my previous post on "Just how small is the business world in Toronto?" knows that the business world is smaller than you think. Consulting supply and demand change from year to year. Is there a reason why consulting firms tend not to poach from one another?

If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments box below, I'd love to hear them.  

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Guest Oct 16, 2018