Toffler Associates Reviews

Updated June 10, 2015
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Toffler Associates Managing Director Deborah Westphal
Deborah Westphal
12 Ratings

12 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    Management Nightmare

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Before the current managing director took over, this was a great place to work. The projects were high level and interesting. The management then valued employees and provided valuable mentoring.

    Cons

    When the government work started drying up the management and Tofflers bailed, leaving the current m.d. in place. This was the beginning on a long spiral downward that still is in play. There is no real leadership, just clicks of people that are temporarily in favor but then get turned on at any given moment. Management is immature and unstable, creating a very negative work environment. I didn't realize how bad the attitude was there until I left and joined another more reputable and stable consulting firm. There is no work life balance and woman with children are treated as lower class citizens. Age discrimination was evident as well.

    Advice to Management

    There is no point in giving advice, management has no ability or desire to listen or learn.


  2. Helpful (6)

    I should have listened to the reviews...

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate
    Former Employee - Associate

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Not much here, just glad I realized the issues early on. There are some good people here but I feel they are trying to convince themselves that it is good when the evidence is to the contrary.

    Cons

    Talked about great clients, good consulting work, and amazing opportunities for growth when I applied - What I got was shoved on a govt contract to rot, a realization that there was no cool commercial work (or more than 1 client on the commercial side), and a lesson in how to NOT run a business. What a mess... I definitely should have taken the other reviews on here to heart instead of believing the story that was told to me.

    Poor work environment, long hours, bad leadership across the firm at several levels, and a significant lack of experience and qualifications across the company. I did not realize that there are only ~25 employees at the company before accepting - makes the large number of bad reviews even more impressive! Glad that I had options and could get out when I did.

    Advice to Management

    Not sure this is even worth trying, no one believes that anything is wrong despite the evidence...


  3. Helpful (4)

    Skullduggery and Pixie Dust

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate in Reston, VA
    Current Employee - Associate in Reston, VA

    I have been working at Toffler Associates full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    I wish there were some!

    Cons

    While they profess to promulgate the theories and extrapolations of Alvin Toffler the place is run more like a cult of Scientologists. And just like Scientology when you start pealing back the layers all you find are lies and deceptions. Please heed the warnings on this site and stay away.

    Advice to Management

    Get rid of the problem at the top! The managing director Deb Westphal is the ipitomy of oppressive leadership and her legion of yes men are no better.


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  5. Helpful (6)

    A company that preaches innovation...but doesn't innovate itself

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    There are some really excellent people who work within the company that make life bearable.
    The company delivers a lot of benefits including 100% covered medical contributions, generous 401k program, and daily commuting costs.

    Cons

    The company professes the idea of empowerment and independent thought but there are really only two individuals who are able to make decisions...and if you are counter their ideas, good luck.
    I was interviewed and hired having been told there was plenty of opportunity to engage in multiple projects and have the flexibility to work where I'd like. As it turns out, many were given the same speech and all are currently disheartened by the reality of being nothing more than a 'butts in seats' contractor role to support the bulk of the revenue.
    Leadership has their favorites and will staff projects based upon proximity to people rather than capabilities.
    Too much of a think tank mentality by the managing director who often derails projects with lofty ideas that stray far from the pragmatic solutions a client wants.
    One of the most frustrating things is that gossip and rumors run rampant, often beginning by leadership themselves.

    Advice to Management

    There are a lot of blind spots, find them and correct them quickly.


  6. Helpful (6)

    Has trouble getting out of their own way

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    -Smart colleagues, though this has dwindled a bit in the last few years.
    -Opportunities to work remotely from home.

    Cons

    -Work life balance: Often working weekends and evenings when it could have easily been avoided. This was the case across the board, regardless of level.

    -High turn-over rate: In the 5+ years that I was employed here, we had an average of 20-50 employees at any given time. In this time span, I have seen over 120 people come and go. Partly due to bad hiring programs and not being able to retain good talent for the long-term.

    -Lack of defined career path: Limited number of levels with no set responsibilities, ambiguous rating system, and no defined path (do x, y, and z to make next level in w years).

    -Difficult business model: There are little processes or capabilities to back-up claims and this makes it difficult to keep existing clients and to grow into new work.

    -Poor leadership: I think has been mentioned but there is a distinctive lack of leadership at the firm and a desire to keep the leadership centralized to one person. It has seemed that any other leads are viewed as a threat. This creates a very difficult work environment all around and breeds discontent.

    -Client outcomes: Haphazard approach to client work often results in poor client deliverables and a lack of follow-on. We would routinely bite off more than we could chew from a capability perspective. I think this is driven by being in survival mode - focused on making any sale.

    Advice to Management

    I thin that many in the firm over the years have tried their best to offer advice and make changes with little effect and this has lead to the large amount of departures when people get frustrated and have had enough. The primary reason for this is the managing director's "I know best" approach - I think that steadily declining revenues over the last 6 years or so proves that this is not the case.


  7. Helpful (9)

    Continuous downhill slide

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Reston, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Reston, VA

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    This was once an exceptional company to work for until the present managing director took over the firm.

    Cons

    The current managing director destroyed this firm. Under her self centered lack of direction, the firm became riddled with back stabbing comments from the "management team," From the managing director came inappropriate remarks such as " don't worry about what we should pay her for a bonus, she is just a spoiled brat and will leave as soon as she is pregnant," "we need to get rid of him, he is getting long in the tooth" and " we need to get rid of the grey beards." The company hasn't changed from what I understand. It remains a very hostile environment unless "you are lucky enough" to have the MDs approval, which at any given moment you can anticipate her turning on you. I was once proud to work there, now I'm embarrassed to be associated with the her. I do think the new Toffler Associates with the broken letter lines and deformed text appropriately expresses how the company has been torn apart and remolded into her personal dysfunctional entity. I give her credit for at least capturing that.

    Advice to Management

    You can't change what you don't acknowledge.


  8. Helpful (8)

    Strong consultants, weak leadership

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Consultant in Reston, VA
    Former Employee - Consultant in Reston, VA

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great coworkers, very bright
    Very interesting assignments.
    Great parties.
    Work from home is great.

    Cons

    Company is a one woman show. it has strengths of deb and also the weaknesses of a company revolving around one person. Power reveals who you are. It amplifies both the strengths and weaknesses.

    Beneath debra is a layer of ex military officers and long time defense department contractors. Despite the image it projects, TA can't break out from the military. It rises and falls with the military budget. It doesn't understand that a truly commercial department excludes military contracting companies. TA doesn't have the DNA to do many things other consulting companies have. Despite touting a data driven approach, It does no quantitative research, no statistical analysis, no surveys of its own. Nor does it buy any databases or even subscribe to any journals. So consultants piece together publicly available sources. It does do some interviews with some experts but for the most part consultants have to make those contacts themselves. It is a tribute to the consultants that do the caliber of work they do under the circumstances. No real methodology.

    You "bid" for your next line of work. So you aren't guaranteed a new assignment. A lot depends on your social skills as well as your abilities. Definitely not the place for a quiet competent worker. In fact, qualifications are often ignored. People with backgrounds in a field are overlooked in favor of people who are better connected in the firm. This has sunk some of the contracts. There is no review to check to see if the right people are on a contract.

    Long, long hours result. Lot of rewriting PowerPoint slides, to what end? Lot of cosmetic changes.
    Tedious PowerPoint format makes things hard to edit. Company won't spend on PowerPoint diagrams or templates. Had us look at tufte, but ignored it.

    Technology is way behind the times. No investment in any infrastructure.

    High turnover. Lousy work life balance. People who have written publicly available work that have won acclaim are terminated. HR is not well staffed. No career opportunities.

    Despite having a female ceo, women are not treated well. Women are given assignments that are not key ones. Women with backgrounds in technology are ignored when it comes time to handing out assignments. Yes, there are some junior project managers/principals but they manage only minor projects. No senior women in management, except the owner. EEOC, any one?

    Firm is wandering around with no strategic direction. Odd, isn't it for a strategy firm. No sense of how to pull itself together...basically just waiting for an uptick in the military budget.

    Advice to Management

    Hire an outside firm to restructure company and market direction. Deb needs to hire someone who will talk to her bluntly.


  9. Helpful (9)

    The Devil Wears Toffler

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Leaving with your sanity

    Cons

    Deb Westphal is the Anna Wintour of the consulting world but with none of style or taste. A person of low character with leadership skills and business acumen so bad that they are the personification of true incompetence. Take every thing that you have read and multiply it by 1000 and you still can't come close to how horrible of a person you are dealing with. This is the biggest sham of an organization and if you are a costumer or employee you should run. If you are even considering an offer from Toffler I submit that you would be happier working for a year in Antartica. It's just as cold and frigid as Deb Westphal but at least you have some penguins and nice scenery.

    Advice to Management

    Do yourselves and everyone else a favor and get rid of the problem at the top!!!


  10. Helpful (10)

    If George Custer was a consultant...

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Clients are strategically interesting and are facing a number of difficult challenges, which makes for an intellectually stimulating work experience. Many clients are C-suite (or SVP) level on commercial side and Director (SES) level on the government side, so projects are typically very strategic in nature.

    Cons

    I agree with many of the statements other commenters have made. Most of the issues at Toffler Associates start and stop with the Managing Director.

    - Leadership is living in the past. All examples of strong past performance seem to be 5+ years old and invariably end with a story about how the relationship was mismanaged or the mistakes that were made which resulted in the loss of the client.

    - There is far too much reliance on a vastly overvalued brand name. Whereas the Toffler name may have at one point opened doors, it is now a struggle to find many who have heard of the company, and fewer still who have any recollection of Alvin Toffler and his books. That said, leadership still clings to 40 year old observations, which, though they were groundbreaking at one point, are now quaint, outdated, and frankly, not really all that relevant or interesting to clients. Further, clinging to outdated books and TA's desire to be different lead to an inability to focus on what's really important to clients. (The commenter who spoke of "the fire of the future" hit this on the head.)

    - Undeserved institutional arrogance. Despite having little to no evidence to support its superiority, leadership makes a point of doing things the "TA way" and seems to actively avoid entertaining alternative approaches to administrative and/or client challenges.

    - MD has steered the firm to a greater than 60% loss in revenues from peak highs in the late 00s. Some of this can be attributed to market dynamics, but in a firm that sells its ability to understand changes in the broader market and help clients position themselves to capitalize, leadership's inability to do the same does not a ringing endorsement make.

    - In the last four months, over 30% of the consulting staff has left, also not a ringing endorsement.

    - Lack of growth potential within the company. From time to time a 'path to ownership' is dangled, but there have been no moves in recent memory to support any claims that it is actually achievable. TA likes to claim they are a flat organization, but make no mistake, they are absolutely a dictatorship. All decisions, be they large or small, administrative or client-related, are made by one of two people, Operations Director or Managing Director.

    -For a firm of ‘futurists’, the lack of a modern, functioning IT infrastructure is laughable. Though they are currently making strides to update their hardware, some computers still run on Windows XP and Office 2007 is the most recent software update they’ve made. There is no knowledge or client management tool except a shared drive that is little more than a dumping ground for staffing forecasts, as access to anything other than the engagements on which you are currently staffed is not possible. There is no automated push to keep employees informed of current pursuits or other goings on other than a shared voice mailbox. Learning past performance is entirely contingent upon speaking to someone who worked the project, which is increasingly difficult as 90+% of the company has been there less than three years.

    Advice to Management

    As others have stated, I have seen no reason to believe that any advice would have even the slightest chance of falling on anything other than deaf ears, but ownership should strongly evaluate those in leadership or they run the risk of losing even more quality people in the very near future.


  11. Helpful (9)

    Company is in decline due to poor leadership and arrogant approach to the market.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Reston, VA
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Reston, VA

    I worked at Toffler Associates

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Very bright and diverse employees. Leading edge methods and services. Designed from the start as a virtual organization, complete with most of the technology and support necessary to work in virtual teams.

    Cons

    Operates as two separate cultures: the private club made up of the owners and select senior partners, and everybody else. Despite being a consultancy predicated on seeing future conditions, the owners missed market changes and opportunities for new business.

    Advice to Management

    Speak truthfully to client and employees. Listen to and leverage the immense talent in the workforce.



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