Toffler Associates

  www.toffler.com
  www.toffler.com

Toffler Associates Reviews

Updated November 20, 2014
Updated November 20, 2014
21 Reviews
2.2
21 Reviews
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Toffler Associates Managing Director Deborah Westphal
Deborah Westphal
15 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Smart leadership and vision for company growth

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

    I have been working at Toffler Associates full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    *Due to smart decision making and management, Toffler Associates has been able to steer through the negative impact of the economic downturn and defense budget cuts while capitalizing on opportunities in the commercial space, helping to create a stronger, more diversified company portfolio, allowing strong growth projection for the company's future.

    *Fantastic learning environment

    *Some of the best, most detail-oriented strategy consultants with an unmatched creativity that enables business leaders make the changes necessary to succeed in their operating environment

    *inspiring and fun place to work

    Cons

    In tough times, difficult decisions need to be made. Business is business.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Just keep doing what you're doing

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 4 people 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
  3. 5 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
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  5. 5 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
  6. 8 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
  7. 9 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
  8. 8 people found this helpful  

    I learned how *not* to run a business.

    • 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 (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    I had the opportunity to work on truly interesting govt work, but they no longer do those projects anymore. There was a ton of on-the-job training, because there is no structured training or mentoring. It was fun while it lasted!

    Cons

    I believe another reviewer says this was a fun ride, till you realize you're on the Titanic. I agree with all the other negative comments. There is exceptionally poor leadership here, toxic relationships, and a sense of superiority that is not justified. Ultimately I left due to (1) a lack of any career growth potential because there is no path to equity and hollow titles with no new responsibilities or authorities, and (2) I stopped learning new things because my mentors taught me all they knew and there was no one left to learn from.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    None. They already believe they know everything, so I wouldn't bother providing advice they will just ignore anyway.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 7 people found this helpful  

    Beware of Toffler Associates

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

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

    Pros

    Conceptually, TA is very good at identifying out of the box solutions for contemporary challenges. Lot's very smart people working very hard.

    Cons

    Lot's of very smart people working very hard, but with little direction. TA is very much a rudderless ship that touts the vision of its founder decades ago. Current leadership is not equipped to solve problems; only admire them smartly. Life at TA is very cliquish. Either you are in the circle with the could kids or you or out. There is no middle ground. For those on the outside expect to have a very short tenure.

    TA claims to be organizationally flat, but nothing could be further from the truth. Deb is queen bee. She has a very tight inner circle that does her bidding. Upset anyone in the inner circle and your time at TA is over. Additionally, TA abhors structure. They believe that by adding process and structure to an organization it limits creativity. A hippy concept that only retards business.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There is nothing new to reveal that hasn't already been discussed in previous post. However, were I to advise Senior management above Deb Westphal, I would suggest cleaning house of the dead weight that has weighed the company down for more than a decade and inject fresh blood into the leadership circle. Tried and true idea that are old & stale will produce the same old & stale results.

    Lastly, the comment from January 2014 was clearly written by someone in the cool kids circle that directly benefits from the TA culture. Anyone that actually works for a living would have sharply different perspectives.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 7 people found this helpful  

    Interesting work and motivated colleagues, but lack of leadership

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

    I worked at Toffler Associates

    Pros

    - The work is unique, challenging and rewarding
    - Consultants are smart, hardworking and dedicated to problem solving
    - Mostly a virtual firm
    - Colleagues go above and beyond to help each other succeed

    Cons

    - Childish, internal bickering/politics lead to the departure of great consultants and leaders
    - Leadership cannot take criticism and silences consultants who try. Leadership style has shifted to an authoritative approach
    - Cannot hold on to long-term contracts

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It's time to let the employees take control of the firms destiny.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 6 people found this helpful  

    Attracts great talent, works them hard, let's them go whent times are tough.

    • 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

    Pros

    - Very smart, diverse, and dedicated employees that work extremely hard, often at personal risk to family life and long-term health.
    - Projects are general important, interesting, and provide opportunities for creative solutions
    - Formerly focused on long-view forecasting, which was a nice niche market, but now in decline.
    - Virtual office.
    - Opportunities to work on very challenging client problems.

    Cons

    - History of high turnover.
    - While the firm's leaders talk about opportunity, only a small group of favorites get the best assignments.
    - While leaders promote a progressive work culture, they do not follow it in practice.
    - Disconnect between the talk about the firm's culture and actual practice demoralizes employees.
    - Long history of hiring very good talent and then laying people off two to three years later during down cycles.
    - Lots of talk about the firm being a big "family" but not in practice.
    - Nearly impossible to find work/life balance if you want to get ahead.
    - Very cliquish, particularly at top level.
    - Frequent changes in firm strategy and direction cause confusion and poor morale.
    - Don't get sick or pregnant. Women who want to start a family or have children find it very difficult, are laid off, or forced out.
    - Pay is average for consulting firms of this size. "Extra effort" is not always rewarded.
    - Virtual office (both a positive and a negative)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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