Altman Vilandrie & Company Reviews | Glassdoor

Altman Vilandrie & Company Reviews

Updated June 1, 2018
29 reviews

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4.5
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Rory Altman & Ed Vilandrie
17 Ratings

29 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Offer letter review"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time

    Pros

    the recruiting process was fast efficient and friendly

    Cons

    the interviews are very long


  2. "If you're ambitious and hungry, this is the right place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time

    Pros

    - The work is high impact and challenging. You'll consistently find yourself in new and challenging situations. This pushes you to grow tremendously in a short amount of time. This leads me to my next point.
    - You learn a lot. At AV&Co, you'll develop a universally applicable arsenal of tools ranging from broad critical thinking / problem solving, to advanced financial modelling and presentation skills.
    - Senior Management is very friendly and the firm operates on a fairly flat structure. Informally, this means you can casually talk to pretty much everyone.
    - Fun staff. Co-workers are very friendly with one another and people hang out outside of the office all the time. It's very pleasant to work with your friends.
    - Very structured and explicit opportunities for advancement. The firm is growing steadily over the years (historically, perhaps a bit too fast, but growth is slowly becoming more manageable), which also creates an upward "vacuum" that allows you to stretch into the role above you. It's not uncommon for analyst/senior analyst level people to find themselves managing the day to day of a project.
    - Exit opportunities are phenomenal. Employees who leave the firm consistently go on to work at top TMT firms (e.g. Google, Twitter, Verizon) in high-impact corporate strategy roles and often fly through the ranks at those companies. Others go on to study at the top MBA programs (e.g. Stanford, Harvard, etc.).

    Cons

    - High number and variability in hours. In some weeks, you'll do 70 hours, in others you'll do 40. It's fairly unpredictable and makes it difficult to make plans outside of work. Average (including beach time), is probably somewhere around 50-55 depending on who you're asking.
    - High variability in 1st year performance with pay not fully reflective of true value. Afte the first year or two of an analyst class, you start to see a very wide range of capabilities, with some high performers (usually will then get promoted) and underperformers. Pay does not generally reflect true output, with a very strong tenured analyst only getting maybe 5-10% more than underperformers. This is extra frustrating, as underperforming analysts will typically be staffed on easier or more internal projects, meaning they also tend to work fewer and less stressful hours

    Advice to Management

    - Increase the share of pay that is performance / bonus based, even at lower levels. There is too much complacency among underperforming staff
    - Continue efforts to improve work-life balance, especially for higher performers - Continue to promote internal promotion, especially for mid-management roles

  3. Helpful (2)

    "I left more qualified for life than I arrived"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time

    Pros

    AV&Co. will prepare you for a very successful career path if you are willing to put in the work. If you join, you will learn strategic, analytical, and management skills with the added benefit of opportunities to find mentors and friends along the way.

    The firm is more like a community than a company, and low travel translates to strong interpersonal relationships where partners and analysts can often be found engaging in informal discussion. Lack of competitiveness empowers the camaraderie that develops within each starting class of analysts and these people become a core part of your social life both while you are an employee and after you have left. Employees are accessible, highly intelligent, extremely collaborative, and broadly very kind. Partners are passionate about TMT, and this enthusiasm tends to trickle down and generate industry enthusiasm among the less-tenured folks. Despite the lesser-known brand, AV&Co.’s industry focus becomes a resume differentiator upon departure, as employees not only develop consultant skills, but also build a stable foundation of industry knowledge that is appreciated by large corporations.

    The firm operates on a hybrid model of apprenticeship and trial by fire. Learning happens on the job, and it happens as quickly as you are willing to allow. Those who succeed are the ones who embrace the discomfort of never knowing how to do something you’ve been asked to do, as these people find that there is always some way to learn. Due to the thin middle-management structure, analysts requiring less guidance can set themselves on rapid career trajectories that find them leading day-to-day of project teams two years out of undergraduate.

    Cons

    Beyond the expected complaints of long hours and other client-services-related matters, a major challenge at AV&Co. is its growth management. A recent hiring initiative resulted in a large onboarding of new employees, which took a toll on the existing consultants who were expected to push ahead on their own work while pulling up the many inexperienced teammates around them. Off-cycle hires have had a much higher failure rate due several factors: 1) supply bias toward more un-fit employees finding themselves in the off-cycle job market 2) a lack of support network to train and learn with upon starting (as compared with on-cycle analyst or consultant starting classes). This challenge is amplified by the fact that many analysts only intend to two-years of consulting, and so the need to fill gaps at the mid-level is greater. Better candidate filtering for historical promotions and trajectories as well as interviews that include Excel and PowerPoint skill testing may improve this problem.

    Closely linked to the hiring matter is the issue of work distribution. Those who are most successful will probably find themselves with unlimited opportunities to dedicate time and effort to the firm. Gaps in project staffing will be infrequent to non-existent for these people, while others find themselves unstaffed at regular intervals. High performers will find many mentors, and likely feel strongly committed to the work products and well-being of the firm. As a result, during difficult projects or negative team situations, it can be challenging to detach from work-related stress and distress. The outcome of this dynamic is that the strongest performers from analyst up to partner level are consistently at highest risk of burn-out.

    Advice to Management

    The analyst class community is the most powerful tool for retention. When morale breaks for a sub-set, the whole group feels it, and when members begin to leave, the likelihood of others departing increases. Continue to support analyst-class events and activities. Show interest in the newcomers even though they are becoming less relatable to you. Keep pushing on the firm initiatives and keep involving analysts, senior analysts, and consultants. Analysts are at the bottom of the consulting power ladder, so the only way to empower them is give them more influence on internal matters. Try to sympathize with their concerns even when they sound like endless complaints.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "So far so good!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Analyst in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Analyst in Boston, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Smart people, great friendships, nice offices, stimulating work, strong commitment from HR and MC to make improvements. It’s unique to find a small firm, founder led, that can still attract some of the same people as the bigger consulting firms.

    Cons

    Long hours, typical of consulting and law...though not worked one weekend since I started. Pay is competitive and benefits are fine. Free gym in Boston and SF.

    Advice to Management

    Keep making improvements, consider raising benefits coverage to 100%


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Fantastic firm. Steep learning curve. Amazing opportunities!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Analyst in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Analyst in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time (Less than a year)

    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


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Top-notch strategy shop with unparalleled TMT expertise"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time

    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.


  7. Helpful (9)

    "You'll learn a lot and then you'll leave"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    • Emphasis on attention to detail and application of more quantitative rigor than most consulting peers give AV&Co. a well-earned reputation for quality work throughout the industry
    • Entry-level staff are asked to build sophisticated models in Excel, a responsibility that would be reserved for more experienced consultants elsewhere
    • Low travel policy enables close camaraderie among peers; strong attendance at company-sponsored happy hours and events strengthens the sense of community
    • Alums go on to coveted positions at impressive companies

    Cons

    • A typical workweek is ~65-70+ hours, with the extremes pushing 90-100. This has appeared to improve in recent months, but there also seems to be a cyclic nature to work life balance pushes, improvement, a pat on the back by leadership, and a return to the original hours. Compensation is typical for consulting, but you'll consistently work closer to investment banking hours.
    • No matter what is reviewed on here, there seems to be a crop of eager, intelligent new hires itching to join every fall. Leadership knows this and manages junior staff ("resources") accordingly, fully expecting to burn through newer hires in under two years.
    • This ambivalence toward retention is felt at every level of the firm, as evidenced by several high profile management committee departures in recent months and near-complete turnover of analyst classes every two years (the factor retaining the vast majority of junior employees for even that long is not job satisfaction but rather the absence of enough free time to apply to and interview for other jobs). In spite of this known retention problem, hastily made hires are routinely pushed out by management (i.e. left unstaffed for several months with the expectation that they'd seek employment elsewhere).
    • The knowledge that all of this is inevitable combined with a prioritization of client satisfaction over employee satisfaction and misaligned incentive structure (management is compensated on commission, not effective leadership) may help explain the inefficiency of work and consistent late nights.
    • One of the founders' disdain for junior employees (or perhaps all employees) is often palpable and his attempts to relate are obliviously tonedeaf; everyone without exception has a horror story in this regard. The other founder is revered but rarely around.
    • The firm positions itself as a meritocracy, but quality of project experience and quality of professional advisorship varies significantly, rendering a fair comparison across employees impossible and favoring those with lower pressure projects or stronger personal relationships with leadership. An empty promise of promotion is often used as a bargaining chip for retention.
    • Leadership is almost entirely male (there is one female principal), making it difficult for women to find role models/mentors and envision themselves growing at the firm.
    • The firm has grown from a once close-knit community to a larger organization, but office gossip has remained strong. It may once have been innocent, but now it's far more insidious; personal and professional matters that should be kept confidential are indiscriminately spread among leadership.
    • The firm pitches itself as focused on TMT, but be aware that in practice this is much more of a 60/40 split between private equity due diligence work on tech/telecom infrastructure (think fiber, cell towers, data centers) and everything else.

    Advice to Management

    • Find a way to message to your staff that they are valued. Thank people for their hard work always, not just after complaints of all-nighters and major personal sacrifices. Do not minimize their requests as whining; do not complain that they are expensive (this is a common occurrence and very inappropriate behavior).
    • Incentivize good leadership, not just project sales; support leadership in walking away from bad clients.
    • Either be more selective in hiring or stand by hiring decisions and invest time and energy in training/professional development; stop flailingly hiring en masse and then lazily labeling people as underperformers - it's not as sneaky as you think and it's bad for already low morale.
    • Invest more in mentorship and build out your alumni network.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Consultant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Consultant in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Consultant in Boston, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great place to learn and progress rapidly

    Cons

    Variable work hours often leading to long hours


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Great place to learn and grow"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Altman Vilandrie & Company full-time

    Pros

    - Generally very high quality work, feel good about giving accurate, impactful insights and recommendations. It's the top TMT-focused strategy consulting firm in the US because of their high standards for their work
    - Supportive peer culture; incredible people that want to help you learn the ropes and will become some of your closest friends
    - Invest in people; they spend a lot of time, effort, and money on employees: company sponsored happy hours every Friday, ski trip, special events, etc. as well a concerted effort over the past few years to improve the day-to-day experience with committees focused on W/L balance, the Analyst program, professional development, etc. and some pointed policy changes and initiatives that have made a noticeable impact

    Cons

    - Variable experiences; especially within your first year, employees will have very different experiences depending on who they work with, what types of projects they are on, etc. Some of this is unavoidable, but more can be done to even it out.
    -Long hours; There are very high expectations here for high quality work, which can often lead to long, unpredictable hours. The culture of "overdelivering" is slowly changing, but it will always be there somewhat - not 100% a bad thing
    -Operational inefficiency - despite its preeminence in TMT strategy consulting, this is not an old, established company that has all of its policies and procedures solidly nailed down. Right now, management is in the midst of implementing new policies, changing procedures and programs, etc. so there is some organizational uncertainty that can be frustrating to some people. It's in the flux stage between a start-up and an established professional services firm, and still trying to figure out its identity

    Advice to Management

    Figure out what you want to be and how you want to get there, tell people what that plan is, and then hold everyone to it.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Fun, bright firm"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Analyst in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Analyst in Boston, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Bright, interesting people; competitive pay and benefits; casual and entrepreneurial environment. Generous company events, lunch 2x. a week.

    Cons

    Infrastructure still evolving - company is at inflection point but some good leadership work is on the horizon.


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