Toffler Associates

  www.toffler.com
  www.toffler.com

Toffler Associates Reviews

Updated November 20, 2014
Updated November 20, 2014
21 Reviews
2.3
21 Reviews
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Toffler Associates Managing Director Deborah Westphal
Deborah Westphal
15 Ratings

7 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Has trouble getting out of their own way

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

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

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    Continuous downhill slide

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 4 people found this helpful  

    Strong consultants, weak leadership

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

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 6 people found this helpful  

    The Devil Wears Toffler

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

    I worked at Toffler Associates full-time (more than an year)

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 7 people found this helpful  

    If George Custer was a consultant...

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

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

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 8 people found this helpful  

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

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

    I worked at Toffler Associates

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 5 people found this helpful  

    Probably the worst experience of my life.

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

    I worked at Toffler Associates

    Pros

    The plus is that you are able to work remotely and have a lot of autonomy. When I first started with TA were some very cool clients and the work was challenging.

    Cons

    Of late the work is your basic "get it done" and off your plate stuff. The majority of the superstars left the firm and those that remain are unhappy, overworked and the generally the mood is negative, especially with regards to the management. There continues to be turbulence with roles and knowing who is in charge. From what I know from previous employees the current managment isn't taking the business seriously and just wants to spin a quick profit so they can sell the business. People are treated disrespectfully and only "the favorite few" ever get ahead. There is a culture of unappreciation and ill treatment with overworked individuals trying their best and never receiving any encouragement. There is a complete lack of work life balance.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Sadly there needs to be a new person in charge, fresh ideas and enthusism might save this once regal firm.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

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