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Altman Vilandrie & Company Reviews

Updated Feb 3, 2020

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4.1
77%
Recommend to a Friend
79%
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Altman Vilandrie & Company Founders and Directors Rory Altman & Ed Vilandrie (no image)
Rory Altman & Ed Vilandrie
26 Ratings
  1. 5.0
    Former Employee, more than 5 years

    Interesting work, great people

    Jun 25, 2019 - Consultant in Boston, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    - Good mix of financial sponsor and corporate strategy work gives exposure to investment decision making and business strategy - Great team and very smart and motivated individuals - Impressive firm growth creates opportunity

    Cons

    - Hours are variable given client demands - Smaller firm means taking on larger and harder roles, sooner

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  2. 4.0
    Current Employee, less than 1 year

    Special place to work

    Jan 23, 2020 - Consultant in Boston, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    AV&Co is a special place to work. The MC and HR have been on a path to improving work/life balance and listening to the needs of employees, which has led to tremendous improvements. Hours are still long, but that's consulting. The low-travel model, deep expertise you gather in a short amount of time and the high-touch HR department are all amazing.

    Cons

    The HR team needs to continue to stay close to the employee experience. There is a new HR head who just needs to free up more. MC need to be actively coached by HR and their peers as well. Some are great, others, if they are not managed, will get away with some neglectful behavior.

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  3. 3.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    A great place to rapidly build a solid analytical mind and skill set, which you will then take elsewhere.

    Feb 3, 2020 - Analyst 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    1. Rapid learning. Analysts ramp up on data analysis skills, hypothesis-based problem solving and TMT industry knowledge rapidly. After 1 year, most analysts are able to execute projects independently with occasional guidance from management committee (MC) members—a highly valuable skill set and mindset. 2. Valuable and frequent feedback. AV&Co. has a strong informal and formal feedback culture. If you are receptive to constructive criticism, you will improve rapidly (and the sky’s the limit). Generally, the feedback is fair and senior staff often give junior staff valuable advice and guidance even outside of formal feedback sessions. 3. Flexible work policies and low travel. Employees are generally not penalized for working from home, and there is little travel for junior employees, resulting in improved employee satisfaction and health. 4. Agile and receptive HR department. As the firm is relatively small, AV&Co.’s HR department is highly receptive to feedback and employees have the opportunity to directly impact and improve the work environment. Hopefully, the HR department can continue to improve the employee experience and commit to excellence despite the recent departure of the beloved HR head. 5. The people! Most people that work at AV&Co. are smart, kind and hardworking. It’s wonderful to have coworkers who genuinely care about you, and are also your friends. Everyone knows each other by first name, and when you travel between offices, you can expect to be greeted warmly by coworkers in every office. 6. Happy Hour. Perhaps its most tangible selling point, AV&Co.’s happy hours are weekly Friday affairs for employees to relax over food and drinks at a local bar or restaurant, across all offices. This is a great perk, though recent restrictions have made attendance less attractive.

    Cons

    1. Unbalanced work that is more often than not, tedious. While AV&Co. sells itself as a TMT firm, it is more realistically a telecom firm that does some telecom-related work in media (less common) and tech (rare). Work is heavily skewed toward due diligences on network assets or B2B (and the occasional B2C) telecom products/technologies. The remaining strategy projects skew toward regional/local customer targeting/marketing-type work rather than higher-level strategy. AV&Co. excels at “quantitative work”, i.e. intense number crunching and building complex models. As a result, the work is generally tedious, with a heavy focus on refining calculations/numbers that don’t necessarily make a difference at the end of the day. In addition, many aspects of the job outsourced at other firms have to be done manually at AV&Co.; analysts frequently spend time on mundane slide creation rather than actual problem solving, for example. 2. Poor work/life balance, though there have been recent improvements. Analysts can expect to work until 9-11p on average Monday-Thursday, with high-burn projects pushing hours consistently past midnight—on the higher end, even for consulting, considering the low-travel model. Teams are generally receptive to the occasional weeknight commitment, though it is rarely guaranteed and some management members have a poor track record of honoring these commitments. The poor work/life balance is exacerbated by management treating (and calling) junior staff “resources” to be used up. On the bright side, weekend work is now (thankfully) rare. 3. Slow career trajectory and potential to improve compensation/benefits. Promotion is slow at AV&Co. and gets slower as employees move up the ranks, perhaps as a retention mechanism. There are many promotion criteria, many of which are subjective, making the promotion process seem more political than necessary. Recent changes to increase base salary but decrease bonus percentage make the firm less competitive overall (as overall compensation remains the same vs. increasing compensation across major firms in the industry) and disincentivizes star employees from working their hardest. Benefits could be better (e.g. shift to full health insurance coverage). 4. Staffing imbalance. While there is an effort to ensure analysts get staffed on a variety of different projects, some analysts may find themselves staffed on the same projects with the same workstreams with the same people back-to-back as they get more tenured. This can limit learning and seems to be at the mercy of management “preferences” for certain analysts and their experience/skills, perhaps to improve project outcomes/margins on compressed timelines. 5. Poor knowledge management system. AV&Co.’s knowledge management is desperately overdue for a massive overhaul, though much improved from a few years ago. Previous work is difficult to find and results in consistent “reinventing the wheel”, which will only get worse as the firm grows. 6. Lack of respect for non-consulting staff. Management mistreatment of the analytics and admin teams is not uncommon. In order to be a leading firm, AV&Co. must focus on automation which involves building and expanding the analytics team and its capabilities, though efforts here seem halfhearted. 7. Lack of diversity. AV&Co. is heavily white male-dominated and contributes to the cliquey culture (more on that below), though there have been recent pushes toward recruiting more diverse talent (and results are currently being seen). However, support for diverse staff is nonexistent beyond lip service by HR. 8. Culture/gossip. AV&Co. is highly cliquey, with some analysts clearly closer to each other than the rest of their class. This can result in feelings of exclusion even within analyst classes, which is detrimental to morale. In addition, word has a tendency to make its way around the firm very quickly, resulting in constant gossiping, especially in the Boston office (including work-inappropriate topics), magnifying the disparity between the “in” crowd and other employees.

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    7 people found this review helpful
  4. 5.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Pros

    AV&Co. will give you a lot of exposure to TMT with both corporate and investor clients. The work tends to be fast-paced and hypothesis-driven. Very proactive in giving feedback. Staffing, recruiting, HR, etc. have a great open door policy. Low travel means you have more direct contact with partners and other analysts and consultants. You will actually know the people you are working with and form close friendships with some of them. If you want to stay in consulting, AV doesn't limit you. You can get promoted from within even without an MBA as long as you show the skills necessary for the next level. If you want to move on though, the skillset you develop at AV will put you in a great position. Excellent place to start or continue your career.

    Cons

    AV&Co.'s value proposition to customers involves the deep TMT expertise of its staff. For new hires, it can take a bit of time to find your footing and ramp on cutting edge industries. Luckily the firm has a lot of training systems in place and a lot of mentorship across all levels of the organization, making this significantly easier than it first appears when you start.

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  5. 3.0
    Former Employee, more than 3 years

    A hard-working telecom boutique with some growing pains

    Jan 15, 2020 - Senior Analyst in Boston, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Both the pros and cons were written up during my time at the company, edited only slightly with the benefit of hindsight and perspective that comes from having worked elsewhere. 1. The industry focus allows you to learn a lot, quickly. After a year or so you will likely have accumulated enough experience in a few topics to hit the ground running on a new project. This pace of learning is especially valuable since no traditional undergraduate degree will truly prepare you for consulting. You will also need to become a jack of all trades, since the small size means there's not much support with data analytics etc. 2. Size & culture - when I was there, the place had a fun culture, and hopefully there is still some of that left. The company's size is small enough to be on a first name basis with almost everyone, and at least the Boston office is large enough to have some diversity. Friday happy hours are a good way to bond with your peers, but you’re unlikely to find many managers or above in attendance. 3. Low travel. This means you get to sleep in your own bed - on the flipside, not a lot of client exposure (I had only three projects at a client site over three years.) 4. They’ve really tried to limit weekend work. That’s probably only worth highlighting because it was slightly absurd before (working ~50% of the weekends in my first few months). You will still be working late (9-10pm average, with 3 am not unheard of) during the week. 5. There will be some really talented people in your class. >50% of them will be gone by the 2-year mark though. 6. Recruiters know the name, so you might get offers to interview at Uber or Microsoft, but don’t expect the firm's connections to be very helpful. Limited exit opportunities if you’re looking for anything outside of telecom/tech though.

    Cons

    Whether these are negatives depends somewhat on your expectations and who you're comparing the company to. 1. Telecom is the first and foremost T in the company’s TMT-focus. Make sure you can imagine yourself doing due diligence (50% of my time, 60% of projects) on B2B networking products and telecom infrastructure (cell towers, data centers, and lots of fiber) for an extended period of time. Any tech or media projects you might come across are very likely to be related to telecom. 2. The work is typically rather dull. If you do get a strategy project (the remaining 40% of projects, and arguably more interesting), you will spend the vast majority of the time working with one of the two major telecoms in the US. You will tend to work with their mid-level managers, analyzing customer data or building a more accurate market forecast - in many ways, “strategy consulting” here is a euphemism for customized market research. Not to be too harsh, but most of the analyst job could probably be done by people out of high school. Maybe the same is true for other consulting companies, I can’t say for certain, but it's hardly intellectually stimulating. 3. You rarely get to pick the project you will work on next, though the folks responsible for staffing are very understanding (e.g. they might put you on the beach for a little bit longer after a series of private equity projects). This is largely a feature of the company’s size and niche. 4. Your projects will be short (1 month average for me) - this is both good and bad. Most terrible projects will be over soon, and you can move on quickly. At the same time, the short duration of the projects stems from the rather piecemeal nature of the work, so your team is rarely involved in figuring out the big picture. Similarly, the rapid project turnover means there is limited opportunity for any serious mentorship and analysts are often seen by management as "resources" to be allocated, not young colleagues to be mentored. I personally always found my longer projects to be the most rewarding.

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  6. 5.0
    Former Employee

    Great Internship Experience

    Oct 22, 2018 -  
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Internship program was organized and thoughtful, with many opportunities to learn The employees are friendly and the company atmosphere is fun and welcoming Weekly happy hours are great and build office morale Compensation is good

    Cons

    Interns are not made to work the same hours as analysts, so it is hard to get a true sense of the actual hours worked by full-time analysts.

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  7. 5.0
    Current Employee, less than 1 year

    Fantastic firm. Steep learning curve. Amazing opportunities!

    Dec 5, 2017 - Analyst in Cambridge, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    - 100% focus on strategy and diligence projects only. No dilution in project quality by taking up operational projects like other best in class strategy firms have been doing - Quick 4-6 weeks projects are pretty typical. They keep things interesting but that also means that you are on a steep learning curve for at least the first year - Access to top clients early in the tenure - Extremely talented co-workers who are fun to work with - You will learn more about Excel and PowerPoint than you thought was possible - No need for face time and analysts are encouraged to stay at home if there is no need to be in office - Strong and detailed review process after every project and then bi-yearly reviews to discuss promotions. Completely merit based and comprehensive review forms provide tactical feedback to work on - Very helpful HR and Admin staff that make life so much easier

    Cons

    - Obviously working hours are challenging. No surprises here. Typical week ranges from 55-70 hours / week. However, this is pretty typical of consulting in general and expected when joining. One great thing is that management has taken strong steps to kill weekend work. I haven’t worked even a single weekend during my tenure here. PTOs and personal time are very well respected - Staffing decisions can be ambiguous; Although it is difficult to get them correct because it is a function of projects in pipeline, personal preference and capability - Need more flexibility for inter-office transfers

    2 people found this review helpful
  8. 3.0
    Former Employee

    Oversell

    Oct 22, 2018 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Incredibly smart co-workers who put a premium on enjoying working with each other.

    Cons

    The work is incredibly tedious with most of the higher level, more strategic projects won by other companies. AV&Co's niche is in telecom consulting and number crunching. If you work here you will become an expert in all things telecom including building out the more detailed models than you can imagine.

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    2 people found this review helpful
  9. 5.0
    Current Employee, less than 1 year

    If you are pragmatic, seek to shine and not blend in - this place is for you.

    Feb 5, 2016 -  in Boston, MA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    I have had a great experience during my time at this organization. This is the first time I have ever written a review regarding my employer. From the top the vision is transparent; you are invited in the "circle of trust" on day one; getting to soak in intellectual knowledge from industry leaders. Secondly the meritocracy they promote is real; I've consulted for Amazon and Facebook and Apple.... all these companies talk about a merit based environment but few implement it. If you are looking to blend in - join fidelity - but id you truly seek to make a difference and have your voice hear AV&Co is the place for you.

    Cons

    I would love to see some type of presidents club award given to top performers company wide. Where the recipients are given a week trip on the firm.This isn't even a con; its more of a suggestion box item.

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    9 people found this review helpful
  10. 4.0
    Current Employee

    Top-notch strategy shop with unparalleled TMT expertise

    Dec 12, 2017 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    -Amazing culture among colleagues; truly wonderful people who are supportive of each other and have a great rapport -You'll never doubt that the analyses your team is churning out is best in class work, arguably higher quality than Big 3 given the level of AV&Co's expertise in TMT -Very high standards of management means you will challenge yourself and learn a lot -Wonderful admin/HR staff that truly makes staff feel like their professional development is a priority -Low travel; a rare find in consulting -Interesting, intellectually challenging projects and subject matters -Comp is at or above market level across the board -Meritocratic culture makes you feel like you are in control of your career

    Cons

    Hours are long but I won't even go into that because anyone entering this field knows that work/life will be a challenge. Nothing nuanced to say here. My biggest (and maybe only) pain point is the feeling of complacency that seems to emanate from senior leaders lately. The founders and management committee members seem perfectly happy with the firm staying where it is (roughly) in terms of size, scope, revenue, etc. Totally understandable for guys in their 40s who've had a long and intense 15 years, but not exactly an exhilarating notion for younger staff or new hires. Would be great if there was a greater sense of innovation and forward thinking at the firm; after all part of the reason to work for a smaller firm over the McKinseys and Bains of the world is the prospect of getting in early on a business that is *growing*. It seems like the short- and medium-term plan is for the firm to stay the course, which isn't exactly an inspirational mission.

    2 people found this review helpful
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