If you want to know what happy consultants sound like, look no further than the comments from ghSMART insiders. And no wonder: the firm is enjoying a huge boom in demand for its services while providing an approach to work-life balance that can only be described as idyllic—ghSMART consultants essentially set their own schedules and client engagements, and have the freedom to live and work from almost anywhere.
Comprised mainly of the cream of the crop from the likes of Bain and McKinsey, this is a firm that values expertise—and is willing to pay for it as well. While quality of life is the undoubted watchword—and a major reason that many of the firm’s employees opted to leave their previous firms--ghSMART operates a “work more, earn more” policy that allows those seeking higher financial rewards to simply go out and earn them.
In short, this is a firm that appears to be committed to treating seasoned professionals well. As a result, it has no issues in attracting or retaining top talent, which pays dividends in terms of producing results for clients. While you’re less likely to land a role straight out of school with ghSMART, it’s definitely one to put on your long-term career vision board.
“Amazing and inspiring colleagues who raise the bar daily; flexible work life that you're in control of; helping clients solve their most challenging leadership issues.”
“Choice to choose when, with whom, and how I work. A clear, compelling compensation structure. High impact work from which I can immediately see the results.”
“The coaching and apprenticeship opportunities. The ability to scale your workload up or down based upon your personal goals.”
“Client demand remains high, and our team struggles to say ‘no’ at times, resulting in more work than we might want at any given time.”
“The 100% virtual model puts a big onus on the individual to establish and maintain connections with geographically dispersed colleagues.”
“We are less well-known and often clients don't know who we are.”
“Be part of delivering amazing client impact while building an amazing firm (great colleagues, flexibility, etc.).”
“Freedom and flexibility culture with incredible colleagues and world class client impact.”
“I positively impacted C-Suite leaders by helping them solve their toughest leadership problems, while still focusing on being a great husband and dad.”
“It sounds like the same thing everyone says, but we really do have the best people in the industry, selecting the best MBAs from McKinsey, Bain and BCG as well as deeply experienced business-focused psychologists. Our people are not only super smart, but also humble, curious, giving and driven to support our clients' agendas.”
“Unparalleled exposure to senior executives on high impact and interesting work while working less and earning more than at other prestigious firms.”
Quality of Life
“At ghSMART, I have complete control over my work: how much I take on, when I do it, and where I sit while doing it. I love being able to spend time with my kids whenever I want to—and never have to explain that decision to anyone else. Having our work co-exist with our lives is baked into ghSMART's culture and freedom and flexibility model.”
“ghSMART has a truly unique level of flexibility in the industry. Consultants have a significant level of autonomy in terms of hours worked and one can easily optimize for personal commitments at any time during the week. If you want to earn more in a given period, you can put in the hours and later on dial it back. It is very easy to plan for time off given that flexibility. Travel is very minimal and if you really don't want to travel you can choose projects that are either local or don't require travel.
You can also live anywhere you want since the work is remote, as long as you can reasonably get to an airport. “
“I feel 100% in control of my schedule, my location, and my workload—and this isn't because I've uniquely ‘earned’ that level of control or found the right pocket of players in the firm that honors it. There is simply no match to this experience that I've seen across my 20 years in consulting and industry roles.”
“This is where we shine the most as a firm. We operate in a culture of ‘free choice’ which allows consultants more autonomy and flexibility than they might get anywhere else. They can choose how much they want to work and with whom (both clients and teammates). Our compensation system matches this, so people's take-home potential maps to where they set the dial on work effort. The result is freedom and flexibility to shape one's career at ghSMART, and that leads to ultra-high team satisfaction.”
“We have more direct interactions with CEOs and Boards than any other firm. I love that sense of impact that comes from providing very meaningful and appreciated advice to clients that value our work.”
“Base pay and 401K contributions could be higher, but it is largely offset by the ability to generate commission from the volume of work served. There is a clear path to make the same or more than MBB firms if that is what you prioritize.”
“Best: the more you work, the more you earn. Worst: if you're financially motivated, it can lead to overworking yourself. You have to be able to draw your own boundaries and stick to them.”
“Incredibly clear compensation package that is consistently followed and ensures no discrimination. Very nice 401k match. Employee stock purchase program with fantastic dividends and capital appreciation.”
“Receiving a delivery commission for work completed demystifies the compensation structure completely. There are times when I would prefer to work hard and earn more, or work less and earn less, and the ghSMART compensation model readily allows for this.”
“The best part of the firm's compensation is how transparent it is. The math is very simple and the compensation structure is openly shared for all levels in the firm. Given the flexible working model, compensation scales very quickly based on how much revenue you want to serve.”
“Fantastic development and growth opportunities.”
“For me, the key differentiating factor is the ability to truly chart your own path and create a portfolio of clients and projects that is energizing and helps you learn and develop.”
“ghSMART promotes a very fair promotion process for consultants. There are clear scorecards for each level and direct coaching provided to each person on what you need to get to that next level. I love that we've started/built a fellowship program to provide experience/opportunities to diverse undergraduate talent.”
“I've had some of the best mentors of my career at ghSMART. They are generous with their time and genuinely care about your success. Given we're in the business of talent and leadership development, that's probably not surprising. Promotion criteria for all levels are very transparent and readily available for anyone to view. Very tenured people run the formal training programs, which are high quality with great content not only on the craft but also how to be a trusted advisor. They provide training on topics that I have usually seen reserved for partners at other firms.”
“Strong investment in onboarding and continuous learning, with a focus on practical ways to enhance effectiveness. Career development is comparable, and in some ways better, than what I experienced previously at Bain & Company.”
“Our firm is extraordinarily merit-based, and the remote work plus freedom and flexibility model gives extraordinary access to the work that we do. Our firm has a higher percentage of female partners than I've seen anywhere.”
“Over 50% of our consultants are women, including 53% of our partners. Over 35% of our team are diverse in some way (racial, ethnic, LGBTQ+, veterans, etc.) All of our committees have strong representation from all groups to ensure our leadership teams are diverse. Along with this, our highly transparent scorecards (job expectations) and compensation system apply equally to everyone, ensuring everybody has equal access to work and gets rewarded the same way. Our surveys with external benchmark providers tell us we are in the 95th percentile with respect to our DE&I practices.”
“The firm has made strong efforts to increase diversity of the firm. As an underrepresented minority, I have felt fully supported and have equal access to interesting/high-quality work and opportunities to elevate.”
“This has been a major focus and source of pride for us over the past few years. We have not only made it a huge priority to recruit diverse talent, ensure equality across all our processes, and remove biases from our assessment work, but we also have formal days in which we make D&I top of mind for everyone. We bring in guest speakers to share their experiences, and we provide a day off for people to engage in the community and to reflect on this. And yes, I 100% feel that all consultants at ghSMART have equal access to quality work and promotion opportunities regardless of their backgrounds.”
“We're continuing to push to increase our D&I efforts, including a more active focus on ethnic diversity. We have a fellowship program that brings in super-talented people of color from top universities to give them exposure to our line of work and experience with real projects. We're more women than men as a firm, which is awesome, and we're very open to diversity, actively seeking it out.”
“Even though we continue to hire more and more consultants and support staff, we seem to be perpetually sold out, or very close to it. Our reputation continues to grow in the industry, even as there is more competition. We're also focused on innovation to help keep us ahead of the pack, not sitting on our laurels.”
“I believe we’re the leading firm in our space and have excellent growth prospects.”
“Market leader in a growing market of leadership advisory. Company has strong talent and employee retention, list of marquee clients, and is extremely healthy financially.”
“There continues to be more demand for our business than we can serve. We have a premium service that clients are willing to pay for. While we're in a niche segment of the consulting market, we've been innovative in expanding the breadth of our offerings to further amplify the impact we make on our clients.”
“We grew at a record pace in 2020 and 2021 despite the pandemic, and remain on track to produce another record-breaking year. Our clients continue to call us to help them resolve their thorniest leadership issues, and that seems to be true whether the economy is expanding or contracting. Demand continues to outstrip our capacity to serve it.”
“As a leadership assessment firm, ghSMART practices what it preaches with respect to its own hiring methods. Each candidate is assessed via the firm's SmartAssessment process, an in-depth, ~4 hour life and career walkthrough, after which they are assessed relative to the role's scorecard. As a result, many of the consulting team are top performers from top strategy firms in the past, bringing strong intellectual curiosity and abilities, a passion for serving others, and tremendous emotional intelligence.”
“In my career, ghSMART has had the most gold-plated approach in terms of how they treat their candidates through the recruiting process. Even if I had not received an offer, I would think positively about the firm, the culture, and the people.”
“We conduct an initial introductory call to explain what we do and explore interest, followed by a phone screen and a case study. If the candidate passes and wants to continue, we conduct a SmartAssessent which is where we walk through their career in depth using the 5 questions above. If they pass that and want to continue, we conduct reference calls and a background check, and give them a chance to talk to about five to eight members of our team, including our president and Chairman.”
“We have an extensive process that is based on the same methodology we use with our client assessment work, so anyone who we hire has already been through and experienced the approach they will be putting to work in their client engagements. We are very selective, and take our time, ensuring we get the right people. This can mean the process takes a while, but results in very few mis-hires.”
“Read "Who" which will outline the entire interview process. There are no tricks. We use our proven interview process for all of our candidates.”
“We follow our own "A Method for Hiring" as outlined in our best-selling book "Who". We practice what we preach!”
“We have a case study and then a in-depth five-hour career walk through.”
"For each job a person has held, we ask:
- What were you hired to do?
- What accomplishments are you most proud of?
- What were the low points in the job? What didn't go as well?
- Who did you work wtih, and what will they say about you when we reference them?
- Why did you leave that job?”
Employer Type: Private
Chairman: Dr. Geoff Smart
Vice-Chairman: Randy Street
President: Jeff McLean
2021 Employees (All Locations): 125
U.S., U.K., and Germany