Insights Article

Why I came back to consulting after 10 years

Joining Intact after a decade on a sailboat

Brian Liddy
Project Manager
July 8, 2024
Published
July 8, 2024

Two decades ago, it seemed I had every defining feature of success in corporate America: I worked at a large and successful consulting company; I had helped grow it to more than five times its size over the course of my 12-year tenure; I had learned a lot about IT service management; and I was on track to be made a partner. 

 

But I was deeply unhappy.

 

The long hours, constant travel, and relentless pursuit of revenue and chargeability became suffocating. We were at the mercy of what felt like arbitrary numbers targets—and the bottom 10% of performers, as relative to these targets, were cycled out of the organization constantly. This resulted in continuous elimination of colleagues I was close to, mentors I admired, and mentees I cared deeply about regardless of whether they had been high performers the year before or missed a sales quota by 1%. The fear of missing these targets created a high-stress environment. You either got promoted, or you got the boot, and there was little room in between to enjoy or thrive.

 

It was this industry-wide focus on profits over people that eventually burned me out. After 12 years, and much to the surprise of some of my colleagues, I quit.

 

Taking time off

I have a wide variety of interests and hobbies: I love living on the water, I love theater, I love traveling (for pleasure). I had taken sabbaticals before—sometimes three months, sometimes as long as six months—to pursue many of these interests. The pace of work required these kinds of breaks. I knew that this next break would be different and longer, but I hadn’t yet realized just how long it would be.

 

I became a sailboat charter captain. I taught sailing and pursued a passion for being on the water every day. I felt like the luckiest person in the world, getting to do something I loved every day and make a living off of it. Two years stretched into three, and before I knew it, this chapter of my life lasted for over 10 years. It was 10 years of recovery and repair, and I have endless gratitude for the opportunity to have done it.

 

Planning for the next chapter 

About 10 years into my life on the water, I began to feel the itch to return. But I promised myself that if I also returned to consulting, it would have to be for a very different kind of company: one that allowed me to work remotely most of the time and one that approached people, work, and company culture in a radically new way.

 

I found Intact at the most perfect moment possible.

 

At Intact, my interests outside of work and my desire to contribute to a valued-based workplace were viewed as assets—not liabilities. This was made clear to me right at the outset, in my early hiring conversations with the leadership team. CEO Jesse White and others impressed upon me clearly that at Intact, they prioritize people above everything else. Customer success is the primary KPI, over revenue and profits, and “do the right thing for the customer” feels emblazoned in the company’s collective consciousness. It creates a culture that is far more humane. And it also delivers excellent results.

 

The Intact way

Coming to work every day is a deeply affirming experience. The Intact team has each other’s back, and we consistently strive toward doing the right thing and aligning with our core values. 

 

In situations where we are navigating scope creep, for example, a traditional consulting firm may evaluate me by my ability to strictly stick to a contract or to maximize contract profitability. The room for error is slim, and the consequences are severe. At Intact, however, we navigate those situations very differently. We ask: is this the right thing to do for the customer? Is this going to be valuable and impactful for them? While we still take into account costs and resources, we understand that sometimes the most effective solutions require a more flexible approach.

 

And we’re finding that this approach is working. By prioritizing customer success over profitability, we are prioritizing excellent results and rapid growth. This is readily apparent to customers—which is one of the many reasons why they love working with us. Shared incentives for success deepens trust and relationships in tangible and intangible ways. I am available to my customers whenever they need me, without worrying about profitability, scope creep, and how the company may penalize me for not delivering efficiently toward its profits. 

 

An ongoing voyage

My return to the consulting world has been joyful and meaningful. I am proud of the work I do every day. I feel a part of something bigger than myself, something of consequence, something I believe in, and something that I am heartened to see is growing. It’s also something that the rest of the consulting industry is taking note of.

 

I like to believe that there are many parallels between my chapter sailing and my current chapter at Intact. By living our values and commitment to customers every day at Intact, we’re charting a course through new waters, putting people over profits and relationships over metrics. And I get to be a part of this adventure from my home near the Gulf of Mexico, just five minutes from Mobile Bay. It is a life of fulfillment that I did not think I’d find in this profession and one for which I am full of gratitude.