Consulting Demons: Inside the Unscrupulous World of Global Corporate Consulting

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9780066619972: Consulting Demons: Inside the Unscrupulous World of Global Corporate Consulting

"What is a Management Consultant?" the prized MBA candidate asked.
"The best of us--and that could be you--know without ever needing to ask. We're a Breed Apart," the consultant observed, arrogance and irony in perfect balance.
"Okay, so that could be me, but what does that mean?" the MBA persisted.
"Of course there's money involved," the consultant offered.
"Great deals of money. World travel, first-class living. A chance to influence every corporation on the planet. Virtually no limits to whatever secrets and appetites you feel you need to indulge."
"Yes, but what is it that we do?" the recruit tried one last time, his doubts rapidly evaporating.
"You'll see.

In this gripping and colorful account of the American dream gone astray, Lewis Pinault takes us to the shiny heights scaled, and the darkest depths sunk to, by those ill-defined creatures known as "Management Consultants."

At once a riveting narrative, an alarming cautionary tale, and a treasury of useful advice, Consulting Demons is a rare insider's view of the lucrative arena of global management consulting. In this stunning exposé of some of the most prestigious and respected names in the business, Pinault takes his readers by the hand and leads them into a world where a client's interests are skillfully subordinated to those of the consultants, where money rules the day, and where principles and morals are but unwelcome baggage.

For aspiring consultants, this is an unvarnished look at the life of a consultant, with essential, darkly revealing guidelines on how to get ahead and an enlightening perspective on the brutal infighting that can engulf even the most civilized consulting firm.

For current executives and potential clients, Pinault reveals what consultants are really thinking and scheming, and explores the unscrupulous lengths to which a consulting firm will go in order to protect and increase its own lucrative fees.

For the general reader, this is a rollicking yarn brimming with vignettes drawn from a consultant's daily work, including such characteristic consulting activities as "benchmarking" (deep-cover corporate espionage), "business transformation" (mass brainwashing), and "client entertainment" (global debauchery).

In this unique firsthand account, Pinault takes readers behind the scenes of the dehumanizing indoctrination of an academic intellectual into an exploitative--and exploited--"global transformation contractor." This incisive and telling book details his ascension in the business, the compromises he made to his integrity, and his eventual escape from a world he could no longer come to terms with.With true accounts of harrowing days spent in the hallowed trenches of consulting, and nights pondering personal relationships gone out of control, Consulting Demons offers the most complete look at an industry that exacts the highest prices for the most questionable standards of success.

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Review:

With the ubiquitous term consultant now being bandied about as practically every second person's job description, Consulting Demons is a book for everyone. At once an entertaining account of one man's personal odyssey through the various levels and organizations of the corporate consulting world, an informed opinion given to fresh-faced MBAs choosing this profession as a career, and an ominous warning to clients not yet privy to its inner workings, Consulting Demons is a compelling read.

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 exposť 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

About the Author:

Lewis Pinault is vice president of consumer industries at one of the world's leading computer services and outsourcing firms, and he is a research practitioner with the Imagination Lab Foundation established by the LEGO Group. Consulting Demons, Pinault's notorious firsthand, partner-level account of the too-often unscrupulous workings of the consulting industry, led to his intensive exploration and development of new and better means of client engagement and consumer understanding. An MIT graduate, Juris Doctor, Fulbright Scholar and NASA Space Grant Fellow, Pinault combines a unique mix of science and policy perception in developing his exceptional "fun with a purpose" perspective on consumers, play and technology. He lives in London.

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