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StrategyJul 09, 2018

3 Surprising Lessons I Learned by Leaving a Large Consulting Firm

Jared Pelley

My year-and-a-half-old daughter recently figured out how to climb the ladder on the slide in our backyard. What was once an insurmountable obstacle for her is now a fun place to play. Her growth from crawler to walker to slide-climber happened the same time I was considering leaving the Big Four consulting firm I joined after graduating college. In six years at the firm, I grew from recent grad to manager. It was a challenging and rewarding experience and, until recently, it was all I knew about work after college.

Being recruited by Credera and leaving my old firm taught me unexpected personal and professional lessons. It revealed what I value most in my career. Through the transition, I came to believe three principles.

1) prioritizing the right things is better than doing everything

While considering leaving my old firm I discovered a story about Warren Buffett’s personal pilot. One day the pilot talked to Buffett about his career aspirations. Buffett responded by suggesting the pilot make a list of the 25 things he’d like to accomplish. Next, he told the pilot to do some soul searching and circle the top five. Finally, he told him to cross out the remaining 20 goals and avoid them at all costs.

I was intrigued, so I went through the exercise myself. After I circled my top five I asked my wife and some friends to read it and give feedback about my job transition. My top three priorities were related to investing in family. The fourth was about the people I wanted to work with and the fifth was about my role in a company and the impact that the company had on others. Removing the 20 distractors and focusing on what mattered most helped me make the decision to come to Credera.

2) relationships with people are more valuable than relationships with brands

The most difficult part of my final weeks at the old firm was saying goodbye to the coworkers and clients from my projects. We had been in the trenches together and developed strong relationships. In my final weeks, the firm felt more like 50 or 60 people and less like 50 or 60 thousand. Leaving made me realize how little the brand I associate with mattered and how much more the people I worked with mattered.

3) personal character is more attractive than personal resumes

Early in my Big Four career, I began rubbing shoulders with graduates from the top schools in the country. I used to get starry-eyed when people talked about their clients or where they got their MBA. As I grew in my career, that went away and I enjoyed getting to know the people behind the resume. I found that bullets on a CV did not always correspond with integrity. I made a decision that I wanted to work with and learn from talented people who also had excellent character, wherever I could find them.

That combination of personal character and passion for excellence was what eventually attracted me to the Credera team. I liked Credera’s core values, the people who strove to live those values, and the emphasis on healthy conflict resolution. Personal character doesn’t mean being perfect. However, a person with character is quick to reconcile and make amends when they mess up. One of Credera’s core values is humility and humility looks good on everyone.

While there is value in comprehensive career goals, brand association, and personal resumes, the process of leaving a large consulting firm taught me to value career prioritization, relationships with people, and character development more. My daughter loves her slide now. Sure, she has more growing to do before she can hang on the monkey bars and I have more growing to do as I begin my journey at Credera. After years of learning to climb at a big firm though, it’s been fun to stop, look around, count to three, and throw my hands up as I slide to a new adventure.

my credera

Culture is something that is experienced in a variety of different ways. We’re sharing the many ways Crederians experience our culture in a series called My Credera. The heart behind this series is for our company, employees, clients, and friends to have an inside look at the Credera culture by reading about our employees’ “My Credera” moments. In this series, we are talking about our core values, personal and professional growth, mentorship, community involvement, favorite Credera memories, life after college, and what it looks like to create a career at Credera.

At Credera, we love to celebrate every achievement, milestone, and moments of growth. We are excited to open up and invite you in to experience those celebrations with us. If you’d like to learn more about joining the Credera family, we invite you to visit our careers page.