Avascent Reviews

Updated June 16, 2015
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Avascent President Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin
11 Ratings

23 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    Incredible Experience, Unparalleled Opportunity

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

    I worked at Avascent (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I worked at Avascent for almost four years before leaving this spring for a strategy position at a DC-based media/information services company. In almost every respect, I found it to be an ideal first job for an analytical and self-initiating college graduate, and it prepared me incredibly well for my next step in terms of both skills and experiences. --Skill Development: Avascent is truly unique in its opportunity set – after a year, I had developed financial modeling skills that surpassed friends at M/B/B; after two years, I was briefing director-level clients; and after three years, I was managing the execution of complex engagements that directly informed strategies for Fortune 500 clients. Rather than throwing its employees into these experiences unprepared, Avascent offers a balanced combination of training and opportunity that enables junior staff to feel confident taking on ever-expanding levels of responsibility. --Management Experience: Unlike two-and-out peers, Avascent offers the opportunity for its analysts to grow into engagement manager roles. This experience is truly unparalleled – at age 25, you may find yourself directly responsible to a director at a Fortune 500 company with limited top-cover. In order to transition its Consultants (junior engagement managers), Avascent offers a comprehensive course focused on developing managerial skills, which is tailored to personal strengths and weaknesses. Likely because of this early-manager experience and training, I have seen several close friends develop into excellent managers as well as true thought leaders and experts in their fields (cyber, healthcare) while at Avascent. I’ve also seen peers transition into top business schools (HBS, Wharton, Kellogg) as well as strategy roles at innovative companies (Google, Uber, Palantir). --Work/Life Balance: For a leading consulting firm, the work/life balance at Avascent is excellent. During surge weeks, you may end up working late nights or early mornings; however, even at the Analyst level, Avascent employees are expected to be goal-driven, strategic, efficient and self-regulating. Provided that your work is done well and on time, there is no mandated or expected after-hours time in the office. I found that while juggling a normal (2-project) load, I was frequently able to meet deadlines early by focusing on efficiency and front-loading conversations about anticipated roadblocks or strategic decision points with my supervisors. I also found that, generally, my supervisors and peers were highly accommodating of personal time and obligations, including regular workouts, dinners with my partner or friends, family emergencies, 3-day weekends, and vacations. --Culture: Culture is truly a differentiator of the Avascent experience. Because of Avascent’s collaborative atmosphere, I developed personal relationships with a wide array of colleagues, many of whom remain close friends. I was truly touched by the level of effort senior management made toward developing my skills and building mentor relationships with me. Many of the managing directors are among the most empathetic and talented leaders I’ve ever met, and the influence of these personalities is evident throughout the company. --Gender: One critique frequently levied at Avascent is its lack of gender diversity at the top. However, as a woman, I never got the impression that my gender was in any way holding me back at Avascent. I had two highly influential female mentors who provided strong role models for my career development, both as an analyst and as a manager. And due to management’s eagerness to promote gender diversity, I felt confident in my future potential at the company, and never doubted that men and women alike were committed to my success, particularly after I entered a manager role.

    Cons

    --Review Process: My only significant critique of my time at Avascent was that I felt at times the review process could be a bit political and feel slightly "fratty" -- certain outspoken managers would advocate heavily for average-performing employees, while stronger performers were occasionally overlooked due to the happenstance of having worked with quieter voices. However, the company has recognized this issue and when I left, leadership had made significant strides toward "quantifying" the review process to make it more objective.

    Advice to Management

    --Recruiting: One of Avascent’s great enablers to date has been its ability to recruit “the 1%” of college graduates. I’d encourage management to continue to focus on quality control in the recruiting process—as the company has expanded, I’ve noticed that standards for candidates may have tilted away from raw talent/trainability and toward “interest in the defense industry” or “potential for longevity at Avascent.” To maintain its differentiated human capital position, the company should dedicate focus toward continuing to attract individuals with intelligence, ambition and horsepower, not on ensuring that they’ll stay forever. --Developing Junior Leadership: At times, junior leaders (e.g., Senior Associates / Principals) do not seem to be appropriately coached for shortfalls in downward management, which can, in select instances, create a negative atmosphere among project teams. I’d encourage the promotion of a “culture above all else” mentality. Specifically, Senior Associates who have strong numbers but negative upward reviews should be mandated to develop these skills prior to consideration of the Principal role.


  2. Helpful (2)

    Best Company I've Ever Worked For

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    I left Avascent when I moved away from DC for personal reasons, and I can honestly say that I miss it and wish I didn't have to leave. When I was going through my job search, my criteria were basically: "I want to find a company just like Avascent in this new city." I feel so lucky to have found this place right out of college! Not only did it set me up for success in my career skills-wise, but the down-to-earth culture and people made my time there very happy. I am still best friends with some of my coworkers from Avascent. Some of the best things about the company are: - Avascent lets you grow at your pace and build the skills you want: The culture there is very flat (the Partners don't travel as much as at other firms, so you get to know them as people), so you can take on as much responsibility on projects as you want. This prevented me from getting bored, since as soon as I got good at research/modeling, I could take on more managerial roles. On a project level, managers are also responsive to what you say you want to work on, so I was able to develop my modeling skills and avoid tasks I didn't like as much. - Avascent's community is one-of-a-kind: While there, I really took for granted the mentorship system (you get a Buddy who is your peer, and an Adviser who is higher up). I felt like I could be completely open with both of my mentors, and even talk about tricky professional situations. My Adviser went above and beyond to help me develop skills, even suggesting workshops in the area and running through practice client briefs with me. - Avascent is flexible and responsive: One of the most important things in a job for me is having autonomy over my time, and Avascent is the only company I have worked for that offers that. The culture is that as long as you get your work done well, how and when is up to you. Especially in the consulting industry, finding a firm that values your work/life balance is near impossible. All my coworkers there had lives outside of work and got to explore DC, which I think is invaluable to have happy employees. One of the most frequent questions I got asked my Avascent applicants during interviews was about a woman's experience in a defense consulting firm. To be completely honest, I think that being a woman actually helped me at Avascent. Yes, there are more men than women (because it is defense and more men than women are in the field), but Avascent is actively trying to empower women. I felt like my career path there (if I had been able to stay) was more secure because I was a woman, and the company is trying to retain women. There is even a "Women in the Workplace" initiative - founded by one of my friends - where people in the company gather to discuss professional topics (e.g. how women feel in a room full of men, how to speak more confidently...)

    Cons

    As with any consulting firm, a lot depends on the personalities of the people there. I was able to find my place, but the culture can get a little fratty and some higher ups do indulge in favoritism. My only other critique is with regards to the staffing process. Occasionally, I would be staffed onto projects out of the blue - or even pulled off an existing project - which was stressful. I think the company still has to adjust to its growth phase, so there will be some kinks to iron out on the processes side (e.g. staffing, reviews...)

    Advice to Management

    It is hard, but finding a way to combine the "we're not a two-years-and-out" mentality with "it's normal to have some turnover" philosophy could go a long way towards staff feeling more comfortable when there is a surge of people leaving in the spring every year. Right now, people still kind of freak out whenever someone leaves, but the truth is that it is totally normal. Even though it is not a two-years-and-out place, some people are going to naturally want to move on and that has nothing to do with the company.


  3. Helpful (2)

    Great Place to Start a Career

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

    I worked at Avascent full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - Excellent Opportunities: The best summary of the experience I can give is that Avascent gives you enough freedom/independence to test/push yourself, but enough support to help you if you stumble or if you hit a roadblock. It is the perfect mix for someone in their "first" job. Out of undergrad, I was excited and anxious to start my career. Avascent proved to be the best place to begin. As a smaller consulting firm, I was quickly relied upon to become the "expert" in whatever I was researching. In my first six months, I had opportunities to sit in on and actually brief clients (which are typically the business units of the largest A&D contractors in the industry). I was also a key part of new internal initiatives, which was rewarding and helped me gain an insight and appreciation for working in a small, entrepreneurial environment. When I started, we were about 70 people full-time. Now, we have grown to almost 120 and that growth has brought on new internal challenges that the traditional/larger M/B/B firms have already figured out. There are certainly more challenges ahead for a young company, but that provides motivated, - Dual Staffing Model: At Avascent, analysts are typically working on at least two projects at a time. Personally, I enjoyed the model because I always felt in control of my time and experience. Anytime I felt exhausted with researching a specific topic, I could pivot over to my other work and re-engage later. Professionally, the model taught me a lot about managing time; I would often have to come up with a plan for the week to meet various deadlines and team check-ins across two teams. In that same vein, the model also taught me very quickly about how to upward manage. If something pressing came up for one project, I had to communicate that to my other team/manager, and we would have to develop a plan to incorporate the new reality. - Phenomenal Post-Avascent Roster: While recruiting in undergrad, I would say that the majority of folks I met at every consulting/finance networking session were excited to do interesting work but also use their first job as a stepping stone to their next job or career goal. One thing few at Avascent mention is the excellent doors it opens through giving employees a wealth of experience in strategy consulting and working in a (relatively) small and entrepreneurial environment. Since my start date, we have had Avascent alumni go onto great graduate programs (e.g., HBS, Wharton, MIT, Dartmouth Tuck, Kellogg, UVA) as well as great companies (e.g., Google, Uber, Palantir). Experienced/seasoned employees have also found opportunities within the A&D sector working for $1B+ prime contractors. So, for me at least, this company gives you responsibility/exposure unlike a bigger firm might be able to offer (e.g., briefing clients right away, project manager role very quickly into your career), does NOT force you to leave after 2-3 years (e.g., many friends have transitioned to the PM role and now execute the day-to-day management responsibility of projects which has expanded their professional toolkit and will certainly help them in the future), AND those who do exit go onto top-10 business schools, great companies, or clients. If you're an undergrad student wondering if starting your career at a small consulting firm won't let you get into a top business school, I would ask you to seriously consider that position and get in touch with someone at the company who can tell you about what they've seen in their peer group. - Great Culture: I strongly believe this is the hardest place to leave. I have built lifelong friendships and great professional networks while at Avascent. We don't travel to client sites M-Th like some other firms, so I was able to grab lunch or drinks after work with people that weren't on my case teams. I was also in a long-distance relationship, and my managers were always accommodating to my personal travel schedule. And, in the last two weeks, I had a series of informal "exit" interviews with the Managing Directors and seniors at the firm. I cannot articulate how stunned I was when some of the MDs who I had only worked with a few times knew such detailed parts about my Avascent career, my personality, and my professional growth and development here. From top to bottom, everyone at the company took an interest in me and made me feel like a part of the team.

    Cons

    - Challenges Ahead: I think the biggest "con" for someone considering a job at Avascent is there is uncertainty and unforeseen challenges ahead. As the company grows, there will be new growing pains. I would not recommend someone looking for a 9-6 job look here, because the truth is sometimes you will have to stay late or pick up extra work. - Getting Caught in a Cycle: I think that all too often, the same people got staffed to the same projects/teams, which shouldn't be the case when we have a dual staffing model and want to give people new experiences. See Advice to Management for my recommendation.

    Advice to Management

    - "Term Limits": I think there should be some sort of staffing protocol instituted so that no analyst is on the same project team for more than X projects (3 in my opinion). As an analyst, it would have been difficult to say to a project manager/senior that I wanted to try other things because of the relationships I am building and the hopes that the person can set me up for success in my career reviews. I think term limits would reduce the burn out on projects/subject matter that might not be as interesting to an analyst. - Promote Post-Avascent Success: The company should leverage this more in reaching out to undergrads at top schools. Especially the business school placement, but also the fact that the experience can be transferred to other companies in other industries is very important to message to potential recruits.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Overall impression

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Marketing Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Marketing Manager in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Avascent full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Senior management exhibits a constant drive to improve the both the work environment and advancement opportunities for their employees.

    Cons

    Work/life balance can be tricky to maintain; working late seems to be a regular occurrence for employees from mid level management on down, across the firm.

    Advice to Management

    Keep listening to junior staff about growing pains, and thank you!


  6. Helpful (1)

    Not a positive experience

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Analyst in Washington, DC

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    -Avascent provides a very generous salary to its employees, and yearly bonuses are also large -The projects are one works on are challenging -Avascent's office is in the center of downtown DC near Farragut Square -Strong focus on aerospace, defense, and government-driven projects -Everyone working at Avascent is incredibly intelligent

    Cons

    -Work-life balance is very poor; unless you are very good at setting boundaries and influencing a project scope you will find yourself working 60 or more hours per week as a rule -Analysts and managers are not motivated by understanding new topics but rather by money and a fear of failure -Quality of project managers is very uneven; some make Analysts feel valued and others pay more attention to the Powerpoint deck than their team -Project managers and senior management are often at odds regarding the goals or priorities for specific client projects -Difficult for new employees to feel like accepted members of the team

    Advice to Management

    As Avascent works hard to have a different culture, it should be much more clear about its cultural values. Candidates should be familiar with the most salient positive and negative aspects of the culture. The consulting staff who interview potential Analysts for a job should focus on finding clear cultural fits for the organization, and not just on sector knowledge. This might improve employee retention.


  7. Helpful (4)

    Interested applicants beware

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

    I have been working at Avascent

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

    Pros

    Used to be a good place to work.

    Cons

    I have been at Avascent for several years and I admit that I enjoyed the work for a while. At first, the firm was small and convivial and the work was enjoyable. That has all changed over the last few years, and not for the better. When I started, the firm was well under 100 people and has since grown to over 120. There are very, very few people who have stayed through this transition period other than some partners, principals, and a handful of senior staff. Very few people remember what the quality of the work used to be like and that's clearly management's goal. Nobody will complain about the work or quality of life because the vast majority of employees lack the perspective that I have. Avascent is trying to grow from a small firm to a medium-sized firm at the expense of our junior and middle staff. Avascent claims not to be a "two and out" company like McKinsey (which is an absurd comparison anyway) but that's not entirely true. Every year we bring in 15 or so analysts and don't expect a high retention. It isn't a sustainable model. For example, in a recent one-year period, I saw 25-30% of my colleagues leave or "transition out" (consultant speak for being let go). Not a single person that has departed has said "I wish I had stayed." One of the biggest problems with the firm is that senior leadership do not have MBA's like you'd find at other management consultancies. They just fell into defense work at DFI, Avascent's predecessor, and have stayed on. We have an uninspiring set of core leadership that does not know how to run the firm or plan for the future. For instance, attrition increased at an alarming rate recently and many junior staff sent out feelers to other jobs or to grad school. Leadership panicked and bought everyone iPads instead of enacting meaning reform. Another major issue I have encountered at Avascent is the utter lack of female leadership, which, as a woman, is very disconcerting. This issue certainly isn't unique to Avascent, but it is exacerbated by the lack of imagination at the top. Sure, we try to onboard a 50-50 split of men and women every year, but the vast majority of women do not last. I am sad to say that this place is no longer the firm I once enjoyed and I cannot recommend this place to anyone.


  8. Great Company - Dedicated Leadership, Intelligent Colleagues, and Strong Development Opportunities for Recent Grads

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

    I worked at Avascent

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    As a recent college graduate, Avascent provides the perfect combination of a highly structured environment, with extensive guidance on career trajectory and mentorship, paired with wide-open development opportunities to take on significant responsibility related to both project work and company-wide initiatives. Avascent's President and leadership deeply care about making Avascent a great place to work, and they are highly responsive to adapting to both frustrations and ideas from employees. Beyond the office, Avascent has a strong culture of community service / civic engagement, as well as a range of special events and social outings. All of these non-work activities contribute to the fabric of what makes Avascent unique from the typical consulting firm. For people looking to build a strong foundation of analytical / research skills in business strategy, Avascent is a great place to be for 2-3 years after college.

    Cons

    The culture can feel rather clique-y, and it sometimes feels that there are biases with staffing and promotions. Additionally, it's very focused on aerospace and defense, which is just something for applicants to be well aware of.


  9. Helpful (1)

    Highly collaborative environment with engaging work

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Avascent

    Pros

    Opportunities for professional growth, benefits and compensation, extremely friendly and engaged colleagues, social work environment

    Cons

    Typical to client-services industry, long work hours and unpredictable schedule.


  10. Collaborative, responsive organization where job is intellectually rigorous but sometimes repetitive

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

    I have been working at Avascent

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great people, fun atmosphere, great pay and benefits, often very interesting, engaging work

    Cons

    Long, sometimes unpredictable work hours (as others have said, this is typical of this sort of professional services firm)


  11. Great place to start a career

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

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

    Pros

    Interesting, substantive work that provides clients real value

    Cons

    Unpredictable hours; project type varies but basic responsibilities don't



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