Great Places to Work: Small Is Good

Consulting, known for long hours and travel, can be a hard job. At these firms, consultants have a lifeā€”and for that, the companies rate a mention.

By: Sherri Dalphonse

There is no association between this article and the San Francisco consulting firm that uses the trademark GREAT PLACES TO WORK ® 

The lives of management consultants aren’t always easy: They can spend five days a week on the road traveling to see clients.

Many consultants think there’s a better way to work, and some are starting their own firms.

Among a few to watch are Censeo Consulting Group in DC, Eagle Hill Consulting in McLean, Red Team Consulting in Reston, and Arc Aspicio in Arlington. All scored well in our Great Places to Work contest, but they’re young and small.

These firms were founded by people who had worked in traditional consulting. Many of the employees also came from big consulting firms.

Eagle Hill (eaglehillconsulting.com), a woman-owned firm with 12 employees, limits travel by focusing on Washington-based clients. At Arc Aspicio (arcaspicio.com), a firm with seven employees, travel is also rare. Several of the consultants, including CEO Lynn Ann Casey, have small children, and they cite the flexibility as one reason for their satisfaction.

“When I was in the consulting world,” Casey says, “if they told you you had to get on a plane to Kansas City tomorrow, you had to do it. We don’t do that.”

Censeo (censeoconsulting.com), the largest of the group with 20 local employees, tries to cap the hours a consultant works at 50 a week. That may sound like a lot, but Censeo president Raj Sharma says consultants elsewhere can work 80 hours.

In small firms, employees like having input into the direction of the company. While it’s not strictly a management consulting firm, Kleimann Communication Group (kleimann.com), another small consulting firm in DC that scored well in our survey, was founded on this principle.

“I wanted to create a different kind of firm,” says Susan Kleimann, who wanted a collaborative culture where everyone’s opinion is heard. “No one knows everything, and no one knows nothing.”

Choosing a small firm over a big one doesn’t mean giving up benefits: Red Team (redteamconsulting.com) has just seven employees but offers perks many larger firms don’t, including 100-percent paid healthcare premiums, 12 weeks of maternity and paternity leave, unlimited adoption assistance, and unlimited tuition reimbursement.

“It’s our duty as companies,” says Censeo’s Sharma, “to take care of our people.”