Who to hire

Tim has an excellent blog post here – it’s long, but I encourage you to read all of it. Insightful stuff.

I remember being surprised when I first joined Sun and learnt that the guy who managed a team of highly technical security geeks earnt less than any of the people who reported to him. My naive assumption was that whoever is ‘the manager’ would naturally earn more than his team members. Of course, there is no way why this has to be the case, with situations like the security consultant team neatly highlighting the situation.

The manager’s set of skills was completely different to the security geeks’. The security geeks would all have made awful managers. Their skills were rarer than their manager’s.

I found Tim’s example of companies only hiring ‘the best’ very interesting. Ending up with highly intelligent people who all get bored and hate their jobs but get paid a fortune.

At the time I was leaving university, I was surprised to see some people being hired by some of the top management consultancies and being paid an absolute fortune to perform a role that was basically equivalent to that of a junior programmer. You had top Oxford graduates who had not studied computer science and who had no previous programming experience doing a crash course in C++ and then spending six months straight living in a Premier Inn on the outskirts of Huddersfield programming ERP systems for corporate customers. As time went on some of them had more interesting roles, but it involved a huge amount of work – and I wonder how much brain power. You don’t spend 18 hours a day at work, six days a week, for a year, with every minute filled making intelligent decisions or insightful comments.

This might sound like sour grapes, as I didn’t make it that far through the interview process, but I am still glad I didn’t end up going down that route.

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2 Responses to “Who to hire”

  1. jkprime Says:

    I agree. I very nearly took a role with HP consulting in Singapore. I went into the process thinking it was going to be high level strategic consulting with a focus on using technology to solve business problems. It rapidly became clear that for the most part consultants were really additional bodies at client sites filling in low level roles implementing technologies that were never going anywhere and would be out of date when they were delivered.

  2. Tim Newman Says:

    Thanks for the link, Chris.

    You had top Oxford graduates who had not studied computer science and who had no previous programming experience doing a crash course in C++ and then spending six months straight living in a Premier Inn on the outskirts of Huddersfield programming ERP systems for corporate customers.

    I went through the graduate recruitment process with Andersen Consulting (soon to become Accenture) and thankfully failed at the final interview. Apparently the successful ones got nicknamed “Andersen Automatons” because, as jkprime notes in his comment, they were just bodies thrown into client organisations (billed out at eye-wateringly high rates) to give the impression they were actually improving or implementing something useful.

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