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Life after Consulting | Consulting exit | Ex-Deloitte Consultant, Amanda Wright (transcript)

Sudeshna 0:04

Hello, everyone! So, you are listening to the Abundance Psyche. This is a part of the not so corporate series that we are hosting. I'm Sudeshna and I am your host. And today, I am with the very special Amanda Wright from the Wright company. With 15 years of experience as a management consultant in Deloitte, Amanda is the founder of her own six-figure solo consulting business. And she can actually show you the straight path to quickly launch your own business. So all of you who have been telling me that launching a business is scary. Amanda is here to help. And Amanda holds an MBA with a specialization in finance. She also is a BSc in molecular biology, and she's earned a project management professional designation as well. Along with all the smarts, she also has two lovely children. And she is a supporter of women who want to earn their own worth. She also has a coaching program, which we shall talk a bit later about. So excited to have you, Amanda, welcome to the show.

Amanda 1:22

Thank you for having me. Thank you so much, I'm excited to be here.

Sudeshna 1:26

Yes. So tell. Tell us a bit more about your corporate journey, Amanda?

Amanda 1:33

Yeah, well, so like you said, I've been working in the field of management consulting for about 15 years now. I was hired right out of my MBA program by a company called BearingPoint, which at the time was another big kind of global professional services firm, but they were quickly acquired by Deloitte back in, I think it was 2009. So then I spent several years working at Deloitte in the strategy and operations service line, and kind of moved around a bunch between different areas of focus, because I have a lot of interests and kind of a variety of different skills. So I did some work in tax and revenue management for a while, finance and performance management, and then the public sector. I started focusing quite a bit on public sector workers in the last couple of years of working there, and I think that is mostly because I live in Victoria, British Columbia, which is the capital of the province. And so a lot of the work that can be found locally is with the provincial government here. So that's actually quite a big focus for me in my own consulting business, as well as public sector work. I was at Deloitte for a number of years and had my two children while I was working there. And I think it was really when I came back from the second maternity leave that I started, just realizing how hard it was to balance the demands of consulting with raising a family and wasn't really feeling like I could keep up with everyone else around me anymore, especially some of the men who maybe didn't have children, or who had a partner at home, who can take care of the kids. And so I just kind of went through this period of burnout and tried to figure out what it is I wanted to do career-wise, and took some time off and realized I still really loved consulting work. But I just wasn't really loving that big, firm culture and environment anymore. So I made the decision to quit and started my own business. And that was seven years ago. And it's been like the best professional decision I ever made. Because I really love being my own boss, and having my own company. So that's kind of that's how I've kind of progressed over the 15 years. And now I'm in a spot where I really, really love what I do. And I'm actually really excited to start helping other women kind of go along that same path. If they're finding like the big firms aren't working for them anymore, they might not have realized that they have the potential to start something up themselves.

Sudeshna 3:48

Right, you sound so familiar, your story sounds so familiar, because I think that is essentially every woman I talked to in consulting. And it's funny that you mentioned strategy and operations and tax and finance in the public sector in the same journey because personally, I had a very, very similar journey. Actually, I was with Deloitte for the longest. Well, not the longest, I was with PwC for exactly pretty much the same amount of time. But Deloitte was my first consulting role. So yeah, they are quite good like that. I think they let you try out various things. Was that your take away from consulting as well?

Amanda 4:38

Yeah, I mean, Deloitte is a great company. I still feel like that's a great place for people to go and start their careers and consulting because they do offer such amazing opportunities for, you know, learning and growth and training and mentoring and opportunities to try different types of consulting work. And they were always very accommodating in terms of either moving me around between projects because I had an interest or trying to let me scale back on my client commitments when I had the two kids. So yeah, I had a good experience there, and I met some wonderful people who were still really, really good friends of mine. And I continue to work with Deloitte people on projects quite frequently, actually. So for me, it's been a really great experience. I don't have anything really negative to say about working there. But I did find, yeah, they gave me a good chance to sort of move around between different parts of the business and try out different types of project work.

Sudeshna 5:30

Yeah. And I saw you here, I mean, so many women ultimately drop out of consulting because of that clash between, does family come first? Or does my career come first? And I guess the way you have found your path is, well, it can be this and that, you don't really have to choose so. So tell us a bit more about the phase of the burnout? What were you feeling like what made you say that, Okay, that's enough Deloitte, that's enough big firms? I quit.

Amanda 6:08

Yeah, I mean, it felt pretty dramatic at the time, you know, because I was really just overwhelmed and exhausted. And I had made this arrangement with Deloitte, where I was on what's called an alternative work arrangement. And so I was supposed to be working 70% of full time in exchange for 70% of my salary. But what happened is, because I think of just my personality, I'm always someone who wants to be kind of overachieving, or you know, getting excellent reviews and things like that, I ended up working probably more than 100% of FTP in exchange for 75% of my salary. And that became just way too much to handle. And I started feeling really kind of pissed off about my compensation, in relation to the amount of work that I was putting in and the value that I was delivering for my clients. And at the time, unfortunately, I also had like a performance manager, a coach who wasn't really very supportive, or at least maybe couldn't understand how challenging my life would be relative to his, for example, as someone who had a full-time stay at home wife and a full-time live-in nanny, whereas I was sort of the primary caregiver for my two kids, and trying to to do excellent client work at the same time. So I sort of just reached this point where I couldn't even physically go into the office, I was so burnt out. So I took a three-month leave of absence, actually, and just used that time to sort of chill out and reflect and do a lot of work kind of just examining myself and what it was that I felt like I should do next. And yeah, ultimately, I just kind of came to that conclusion of actually really, really love consulting work. And I don't want to quit doing that, but I just couldn't stay in that company anymore. So that was sort of like what it felt like for me for a period of probably three months.

Sudeshna 7:58

Right! I hear this so much like, I think it's gradually coming out, like all of the Big Four firms. I mean, it's funny, all my friends in big fours, especially women have had an episode of burnout and this, this has to be not something that's rare anymore. Right. So we need to talk about that more openly. But Amanda, the question then, when you were going through this period of burnout, did you feel okay, just coming out? Or did you have to sort of think, okay, is it really burnout? Do I really need to think this through? Like, was there any hesitation? Or did you know that “okay, now I need to take this three-month sabbatical, and that's it.”

Amanda 8:51

I knew I needed the time off because I was like, physically feeling terrible. And I think I wasn't sleeping and I wasn't eating. Well, I lost about 10 pounds. I was having issues with my relationship and felt like I wasn't being a very good partner. I wasn't being a very good mom. I just felt like I wasn't doing anything well. And I kind of almost got to the point where I couldn't go to the office or just do my work because I would be kind of crying or getting upset if anyone was like, are you okay because I was not okay. So it was pretty obvious that I needed to take some time away. And I'm glad I did that because it gave me that space. And that time to think more clearly about what it is I wanted to do long term.

Sudeshna 9:30

Right. So tell me if I'm getting too personal. But before you took the time off, how long were you working these crazy hours and feeling like this?

Amanda 9:42