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Consulting Demons: Inside the Unscrupulous World of Global Corporate Consulting Paperback – December 4, 2001
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Earning an undergraduate degree in political science at MIT, Lewis Pinault channeled his interests in space development into areas more salable in the late 1970s, namely, ocean engineering and Japanese. Hired directly out of college by a Japanese shipbuilder, he spent the next few years living in the conglomerate's dilapidated dormitories, mastering the language and gaining valuable project management experience. Pinault's introduction to the alluring world of corporate consulting came through company contact with consultants from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and a year later he'd been willingly sucked into the vortex of a fast-paced, all-consuming 12-year consulting career. His ensuing adventures led him throughout Southeast Asia, in and out of BCG, the MAC Group, Gemini Consulting, Arthur D. Little (ADL), and finally Coopers & Lybrand, and through a number of less-than-professional exercises in client scamming and industrial espionage (otherwise known as benchmarking).
Having left the sanctums of global consultancies to pursue his original aspirations in science and the law, Pinault has written an exposé of considerable force. Part autobiography, part cautionary manual, the book presents a dark picture of the world of management consulting; in fact, each of its chapters ends with a "Consulting Demonology" tract, including such topics as "Client Beware: Consultants' Spycraft Charms" and "Red Spots and Other Ruses Consultants Use to Close on Large Fees." Though Pinault's tone is sometimes rather arrogant, it serves to reinforce the nature of the consulting game, one that this book portrays as risky and lucrative for the consultant but extremely costly and often not worthwhile for the client. If you're already a bona fide member of the ever-growing management consultant population, read this book and measure your worth as a successful trickster or unknowing drone. If you're thinking of becoming a consultant, read this book and think again. If you're a client about to sign a pact with the devil (or its demons), beware. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book should be required reading for anyone about to enter a business career. The reason I say that is because it exposes the reader to the kinds of ethical choices that can arise in consulting, investment banking, law and many other high impact professional careers. If you have your moral compass in front of you, you will probably make different (and possibly better) choices than Mr. Pinault did. If you don't, you may stumble into some places where you will later wish you hadn't gone.
The book is also promoted as a source that all clients should consider. If you think of some of the stories as being "what can go wrong during a consulting assignment," that can be valuable. But the book is hardly a thorough look at how to buy and get value from consultants. Here is where I graded the book down one star. I think the blurb and the subtitle are misleading on this point.
I drew a different lesson from this book than the author did. I thought that he was a victim of stalled thinking. Whenever a potential ethical problem arose, it seemed to me that he viewed the question as being one of whether he could duck the pressure put on by a colleague or not. Instead, he could have stepped back and considered how an alternative solution could have been designed that would have ethically fulfilled the same purpose for the client and his consulting firm. For example, you need not interview all of your client's competitors flying a somewhat false flag (as he and his teams sometimes did) to find out how your client is doing. There are plenty of public sources that are available to you, and these may even be more reliable in some cases. Also, the client needs enough information to make the right decision -- not every bit of information that can be gleaned (by fair means or foul).
So as you consider your future career, be aware that you need to take responsibility for your own actions. Ask yourself how you would feel writing a book about them and sharing what you did with your parents, children, and grandchildren. If you don't like the answer, come up with a better one. If you can't find that better answer, quit and take up with another firm or another line of work.
Pinault's "Consulting Demons" does for management consulting what Michael Lewis's "Liar's Poker" did for investment banking and Po Bronson's "Nudist on the Late Shift" did for Silicon Valley. In fact, Pinault's wry wit, engaging prose, and lucid insights invite comparisons with the best work of Lewis and Bronson. Yet unlike Lewis and Bronson, Pinault actually made it to the top of the profession he chronicles. This lofty vantage imbues his work with added credibility and authority.
The book is a thoroughly enjoyable read for the layperson, but for anyone considering a career in management consulting, it should be required reading.
Really two books in one--half memoir, half Machiavellian primer for career advancement--Demons triumphs on both levels. Pinault balances tales of swash-buckling success with monumental failure. The Shell snafu in particular is palpably frightening. Scarier for a professional than any Stephen King novel could be. As the incident unfolds, you'll find yourself screaming at the book, "Lewis, don't give that PowerPoint presentation!"
Yet this work is much more than just an "emperor with no clothes" expose of the oftentimes insidious world of the globe-trotting, management consultant. It treats its subject with remarkable compassion and fairness.
As a cautionary tale about the self-destructive effects of deferring one's true calling for the lure of fatter and fatter paychecks and sacrificing personal development for professional advancement, Demons will resonate with readers of all stripes who, feeling trapped in Faustian bargains with their careers, seek to throw off the shackles of modern corporate servitude and reclaim their passions.
Lewis Pinault's debut book is the harbinger of an extremely promising writing career. I can hardly wait for his next book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
-makes many valid points about greed and unscrupulousness in consulting and the toll it takes on both people who work for the industry and companies that hire these...Read more