Mars & Co Reviews

Updated May 8, 2015
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Mars & Co Founder & Chairman Dominique Mars
Dominique Mars
4 Ratings

8 Employee Reviews

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  1. A small firm with a lot to offer

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

    I worked at Mars & Co full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    *Strong analytic *Premium Clients *Small firm *Friendly and humble consultants *Minimal travel requirements *Good work/life balance compared to other firms *One of the best firms for CPG projects

    Cons

    *Lack of transparency *No upward feedback, 360 reviews would be welcome *No formal training *Managers who don't know how to manage *Great variability between how work is done by VPs *Tendency to "boil-the-ocean" *Lack of leadership

    Advice to Management

    Push for strong leadership in the firm, push the brand, and grow you consultants


  2. Helpful (17)

    Intelligent and hardworking consultants; management and cultural disaster

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

    I worked at Mars & Co full-time (More than 3 years)

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

    Pros

    I was an employee at Mars & Co’s Greenwich, CT office for about three years and have worked at three very different companies in my career. I have waited some time since leaving to avoid any emotional artifacts in my assessment and have kept in touch with current employees. Writing a review was a difficult decision to make, but I feel that it is ethically responsible to educate college, PhD and business school graduates so that they can make an informed career decision. Nearly every employee of Mars & Co is extraordinarily intelligent and hardworking. However, the organization has momentous cultural shortcomings and a severe lack of leadership which has resulted in significant organizational decay which will continue into the foreseeable future. Voluntary turnover (not up or out) of greater than 20% per year reflects the strain that has been put on the business. Mars & Co offers a unique opportunity to gain substantial experience early in your career. It is not uncommon to be placed on an international assignment within two years’ experience. Promotions are very rapid and it is possible for a college graduate to double their starting salary within three years. This generally requires that junior consultants take on increasing responsibility and be put on “trial by fire.” In my opinion, Mars & Co outperforms most consulting firms in this regard. The project size and revenue generated per employee is very impressive for such a small organization. Most clients are extremely impressed by the work that Mars’ consultants perform. As a result of the rigorous recruiting process, Mars’ consultants are some of the most analytically competent people I have ever met. Most of the Greenwich office’s work is on consumer packaged goods (CPG). It is important to understand that, although the organization does work in many different industries, much of your time would be spent working on CPG projects.

    Cons

    Where Mars & Co excels in analytical work, its leadership and project management are extremely disappointing. It is difficult to understand how severe of an issue this is until you have experienced it. The root cause of this problem is that success is generally measured at Mars by how many hours you work and how technically complex your methods are. Unfortunately, these are essentially the metrics a good manager should try to minimize. All senior employees at the firm have been promoted from within, as is Dominique Mars’ prerogative. This has distilled the poorest management to the top of the organization. With a few very notable exceptions, most of the managers at Mars & Co perform analyst roles and grind their teams with a fickle, unorganized approach. As a sole proprietorship, the organizational structure of the firm is very abnormal. In Greenwich, one person has complete control of most decision making. Unfortunately, this person only works part time and has a tendency to lash out in grammatically incorrect and thoughtless memos. Progress to modernize and improve the firm has been all but stopped by the laziness and ego of the final decision makers. In my opinion, nearly all of the challenges faced by Mars & Co could be solved if the administrative leader would allow for an open an honest culture where feedback was considered and a sincere effort was made to reduce the turnover burden that is put on the business. During my time at Mars, I saw some extraordinarily ugly situations that crossed my ethical and professional boundaries. An example of one of the many cultural shortcomings that exist is Mars’ stance on women consultants. Only one female currently works in the Greenwich office. The official answer written in the employee recruiting handbook to the question “why aren’t there any female VPs?” is “We have one in Paris. In the US we’ve had women making it to PMs (project managers), but it seems that their desire for motherhood and home life took precedence over their careers.” Mars & Co is truly culturally backwards and my experience at other companies confirms my belief that these issues have significantly eroded Mars’ workforce.

    Advice to Management

    I am grateful for the experience I gained at Mars & Co, and I have a high regard for their work and people. While I was there, I saw about half of the organization leave including many that had started after me. Such high voluntary turnover is not an industry norm and reflects the poisonous culture that has been allowed to infect the organization. While you will gain a significant amount of experience and a large salary, I would only recommend Mars & Co as a last resort for those seeking employment in CPG related businesses. Management needs to actively work within the business to make it a place their employees would actually recommend to a friend!


  3. Helpful (18)

    Poorly Run Organization, But Learning Opportunities Exist If You Can Grin And Bear It

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

    I have been working at Mars & Co full-time (More than a year)

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

    Pros

    • Get to work with some of the largest companies in the world. Most clients are #1, 2, or 3 in their industry • Opportunities for international travel exist if you want them • Staffing on travel projects can be minimized if you want it to be, though you take a hit in promotion potential • Moderately smart consultants at entry levels (Associate, Senior Associate, and Consultant), though as was mentioned in another review, there are a lot of ‘second bests,’ especially in terms of communication skills • Advancement can come quickly, though often it is a result of a person working very long hours for weeks/months to right a sinking ship • It may sound sarcastic, but the bad management and communication skills that run rampant in the company actually provide a great opportunity to learn how to be a good manager by observing what not to do • Good pay relative to non-consulting jobs (though below industry average within consulting)

    Cons

    • Poor management with complete lack of transparency. Basic things like relevant available data, cadence of meetings, and project deliverables may never be communicated and may be surprisingly hard to get out of your manager. Larger projects commonly see duplication of effort and people working for hours/days on obsolete modules, particularly with our soft drink client • High volatility in hours compared to industry average. This stems from poor top-down communication, leading to a ‘hurry up and wait’ mentality that often ends with a mad rush before a meeting that could have been avoided through defined expectations and a project roadmap • Complete lack of training: building a valuable skill set is a combination of getting lucky in whom you’re staffed with, recognizing your weak areas, and a lot of google searches. Some people never build competency in Excel, data analysis, presentation flow, etc., and you’ll be forced to pick up the slack if you’re staffed alongside them • Office location is inconvenient: either commute 1.5 hours every day and live in NYC or commute 20 minutes and live in Stamford, CT • A decent chunk of the organization is analytically-competent but socially challenged individuals, leading to dysfunctional teams and poor communication across managerial relationships • Management attitude: from day one you’re made to understand that you are basically a disposable cog. Especially at the AC and SAC levels, your intellectual contributions are generally not welcome. As one VP put it, you’re there to be an ‘excel jockey.’ This attitude starves off any investment in the success of the project and any feeling of commitment to the firm • No one seems happy. Out of ~40 people that I interacted with only 2 did not either say or demonstrate their unhappiness at Mars.

    Advice to Management

    The root of the problems begins with recruiting: consultants are hired based almost wholly on their raw analytic capabilities, with communication skills taking a very distant backseat. The poor communication is frustrating when that consultant is your teammate, but it becomes a serious liability if that person advances to a Project Manager or Vice President role, and since we only promote from within, that talent pool is the feeder stock for these managerial roles. To solve this, give formal interviewer training (and no, a 10-minute discussion on how to run an interview is not formal training). Codify what you’re looking for and put less emphasis on math skills and more emphasis on good communication. The reason Mars has terrible managers is that the people you hire are bad communicators. These people are also bad at selling for the same reason. Next, allow managers a framework for improving these abilities by instituting bi-directional reviews. Most managers do not realize how bad they are at organizing, delegating, and transferring expectations, and no venue exists them to get feedback and work on this. Moreover, make promotions every 3 months versus 6. I understand that you don’t want promotions always looming in the air, but a talented and ambitious person that believes they should have been promoted in the last cycle is not going to wait around for 6 months to see if things change: they’ll just take another job instead. And finally, stop viewing your employees as disposable assets. Yes, the turnover in consulting is huge, but so are the recruiting expenses ($20k per new hire by my estimate), and even then it takes several months at a minimum to make that new hire a useful consultant. If you can keep people even a few months longer you reduce the time and cost invested in getting a new hire that can sufficiently replace someone who left. Attempts should be made to improve morale and the sense of community among the staff. Admittedly, the return of monthly happy hours is a step in the right direction, but the rationale for canceling them in the first place (‘people will just complain about the company’) is highly reminiscent of the idea that ‘the beatings will continue until morale improves.’ This philosophy doesn’t work, and instead of trying to silence dissent, you should be trying to understand where it comes from and how you can solve it.


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  5. Hit and miss experience

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

    I have been working at Mars & Co full-time

    No opinion of CEO
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Premium client base Potential for client / executive decision-making exposure earlier in career Lack of specialization by industry and function can lead to broader learning opportunities High caliber strategic ability among senior leadership Relative lack of Mon-Thu travel compared to peer companies Potential for international experience

    Cons

    Low all-in pay relative to industry Extreme lack of transparency. For example: unlike peer firms no year-end bonus discussion - you only discover amount when you check your bank account (hope it is higher than other months). Promotions process is a similar black box No manager training - consulting experience varies dramatically based on assigned VP and PM Adverse selection for management - lack of people skills among some senior leadership drives away those who might bring this skill set to managerial roles The Mars brand is well-regarded by those familiar with it, but is not broadly known

    Advice to Management

    Consultant cynicism and turnover carries hidden costs and is needlessly high. Blind 360 degree reviews and increased transparency would yield easy benefits, improving stability and output


  6. Bad leadership, but bright spots in some peers/project managers and client work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Consultant in Greenwich, CT
    Former Employee - Consultant in Greenwich, CT

    I worked at Mars & Co

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

    Pros

    -Good work being produced: data/strategic analysis, data visualization and presentation -Good peers: on average, smart people to work with -Lifestyle: can be decent depending on project

    Cons

    -Bad leadership/management/processes -Below average compensation -Non-existent feedback/transparency about career/promotions -Bad location (should relocate to NYC)


  7. Helpful (7)

    Mars & Co

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Greenwich, CT
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Greenwich, CT

    I have been working at Mars & Co

    Pros

    When comparing to other consulting companies, here are some of the benefits of Mars & Co: - Given that we do purely strategy, the work itself is very interesting and always challenging/rewarding - There is no travel "schedule" of Mon-Thurs on site. We travel only when necessary, and use the office as home base whenever possible - There is also no promotion "schedule", so if you do well, you can be promoted very quickly - Global reach allows for international travel opportunities - Relatively small company, so it is easy to get to know everyone in the office - Only serve one client per industry, so every project is a new industry - keeps things interesting and you're rarely doing the same thing over and over - Great benefits: fully paid health insurance, dental, reimbursement for Lasik, free gym membership

    Cons

    Mars is a one-man show, run entirely by the CEO, with very little visibility provided to anyone else (including most VPs). As a result, it is practically impossible to know what the true state of the company is or where people stand at the end of the day. Furthermore, any decisions (promotions, raises, etc) are at his sole discretion, or that of a select few, with little recourse for employees who may disagree. As with any consulting job, work-life balance is difficult. You may get lucky and be staffed on an "easy" project, but even then you are expected to make your evenings, weekends, and even planned vacations available for work. Some managers are better about this than others.

    Advice to Management

    There has been much talk about "transparency" in the past, but very little change in that direction. It would help the morale in the office to at least have some visibility into the state of the company (and hence their own positions). There is also too much power concentrated among too few people, leaving most employees feeling powerless to affect their own careers. A policy review/revision may help everyone's understanding of company procedures, while leaving less room for "interpretation". Additionally, it might benefit the company to offer some education and growth opportunities to employees. For example, management courses might help those that are suddenly thrust into a management role without having the education of an MBA or the experience of a previous position. Many other companies subsidize an MBA for their employees for this reason. It would also encourage people to stay at Mars longer, if they knew that the company would provide them with long-term opportunities to further their knowledge and careers.


  8. Helpful (2)

    Good place to start a consulting career, but watch out for management issues.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Consultant in Greenwich, CT
    Former Employee - Consultant in Greenwich, CT

    I worked at Mars & Co

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Great place to get your feet wet in consulting, especially for those who are the typical Mars profiles of engineers. Have great opportunity to come in and be exposed to business, interesting problems and be surrounded by smart, intelligent people. Learn how to dissect and understanding a business.

    Cons

    Still owned as a sole proprietorship. What the owner says goes, and this culture is also reflected in some of the other senior management. While the opportunity to learn is great, the people skills are lacking int he firm.

    Advice to Management

    Understand that happier people (meaning work/life balance) will last longer. Need to consider quality of life. Just because some of Senior Management is willing to sacrifice family, doesn't mean all employees want to do that.


  9. Helpful (4)

    Stay Away

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Associate Consultant in Greenwich, CT
    Former Employee - Senior Associate Consultant in Greenwich, CT

    I worked at Mars & Co

    Doesn't Recommend
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Fairly high compensation. Really, that's about it.

    Cons

    Downright unethical behavior. Lots of competitive intelligence work for consumer goods companies that involve pulling resumes from the competitor off of Monster, calling those people, and then implying that they are being interviewed for a job. No, I was not counseled out; almost everyone in the high turnover environment left voluntarily, looking for something better.

    Advice to Management

    Construct a firm based on ethical work. Even the project managers know it's dirty.



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