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Vault’s Verdict

Clarkston insiders (or ‘stewards’, as the firm brands all employees) describe a nurturing, growth-oriented culture that maintains a strong emphasis on work-life balance,  professional development, and mentorship.

While those are the high points of a boutique lifestyle, there are also downsides; some insiders note that the weight of high responsibilities, while the firm's limited brand visibility could potentially narrow exit opportunities.

Not that there’s a huge amount of reason to leave: compensation at the firm is fair and transparent, career advancement opportunities are frequent and merit-based, and diversity and inclusion efforts are core to Clarkston’s mission. Add in a cautious growth strategy that has ensured stability in an unpredictable market, and you have a pretty compelling proposition for someone seeking a true boutique experience in the industry.

 

Employee Reviews

Firm Culture

  • “At the entry level, our firm offers what is likely the best opportunity for any recent graduate to enter the industry. They also have a tendency to retain these graduates through strong incentives and internal efforts to address the issues and needs of the employees.”
  • “Clarkston genuinely cares about its employees and its clients. Yes, making money for the company matters, but I've yet to work for (or hear about) a company in any industry that truly cares about both its partners and its employees the way Clarkston does. The culture is set from the CEO on down - treat everyone with respect and make sure the situation plays out as close to a win-win-win (client, employee, Clarkston) as possible.”
  • Ensure you are ready and willing to be a trusted partner to our clients and deliver brilliant client service.  We need people who are 'client obsessed' in order continue to build our loyal client base.”
  • “Make sure this is the culture you are looking for. It is a very ‘involved’ firm. We do much more than serve our clients. If you are not interested in the internal culture and development, then Clarkston may not be the best for you.”
  • “There are very few consulting firms that emphasize the work life balance the way Clarkston does. Though the comp may be slightly lower, Clarkston makes up for that in lifestyle support. Hours are good and PTO is generous. Offers excellent opportunities for career growth. You will always feel supported, in both your career and your life, at Clarkston.”

Quality of Life

  • “Clarkston is very committed to work/life balance. The needs of the client come first, but never at the expense of Clarkston's employees. Hours are always manageable and the annual company meetings have created a company culture of inclusiveness and comradery.”
  • “I appreciate the diversity initiatives and the acceptance of individuals across many beliefs, genders and demographics.  It makes it enjoyable to have so many perspectives not just with technical experience, but life experience as well.”
  • “My workload is manageable and I feel supported by firm leadership and my project teams. I spend a balanced amount of time working throughout the week and time to recharge over the weekend or during time off is encouraged. I enjoy the project teams I work with from both a Clarkston and client perspective. Everyone is encouraging, supportive, friendly, and goal oriented.”
  • “Quality of life has improved tremendously given most clients require travel only when there's a purpose (e.g., important meeting). This new way of working for many clients helps with decreasing travel stress.”
  • “We continue to engage in very meaningful remote work with our clients. By being good virtual partners we are saving client dollars and also utilizing our time efficiently.  The reduction in travel makes the job much more amenable to work/life balance.”

Career Development

  • “A well-defined and standardized promotion pathway ensures transparency and encourages individuals to establish personalized goals, guaranteeing their progress towards desired career advancements. Additionally, every steward partakes in Diversity and Industry training opportunities and are encouraged to participate in networks such as the Pride and Women's network.”
  • “Clarkston affords its stewards (employees) ample opportunity to pursue training within the industries we serve and the services we provide.”
  • “For new stewards that join through a program, Clarkston provides well-rounded and tailored training sessions and opportunities. Clarkston invests in its employees by providing opportunities for formal trainings through the company led by subject matter experts in those respective fields. Resources and support are provided for continuous growth and self-development for all employees.”
  • “Promotion qualifications are completely transparent with rubrics to standardize and provide equal opportunity. Formal and informal mentor relationships are provided to help guide your career. Diversity communities exist to help give support and guidance in a safe space.”
  • “There is significant transparency into the promotion process and lots of focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging from senior leadership. There is a focus on continuous learning, and it is easy to get involved internally in activities that allow you to change your focus within the firm and develop professionally.”

Compensation

  • “Clarkston focuses on transparency and making sure that everyone feels like they have a voice. Stewards are encouraged to speak openly with Partner advisors about compensation expectations and progression. There is also a profit-sharing model in place for yearly bonuses. Moreover, our ‘ClarkstonPlus’ program goes a step further in enhancing your work-life balance. Each steward receives a $500 stipend that can be applied toward a variety of things, such as a gym membership, TSA pre-check, or a standing desk, among others. It's worth noting that this stipend can potentially increase based on your level of engagement within the firm.”
  • “Clarkston's compensation package is competitive within the market and they have engaged with third party providers to audit and compare our offerings with the market and made adjustments as needed. Clarkston has transparent salary bands and progression tied to their transparent promotion practices. Employees have the ability to work remotely and if they are in the area where there is an office, then that is an option for them to attend as well.”
  • “Overall, it feels like a fair and competitive compensation package. I did recently receive my first annual increase, and it was smaller than I was anticipating. I have only been here a year, so that could be a main factor.”
  • “The worst aspect of compensation at Clarkston is that it does not seem to be adjusted based off of the cost of living for where the consultant is located. While Clarkston is open to employees living nationwide, this does policy does not address the differences in regional economics.”
  • “Worst: Salary and bonus could be a little better.
    Best: Everything else. Clarkston does a great job with overall compensation and provides clear expectations around salary progression. They even give $500-$1000 a year for stewards to spend on anything they want as long as it's loosely ‘work-life balance’ related (includes gym memberships, spa day, travelling, clothes, etc.).”

Community Engagement

  • “Clarkston has made great strides when it comes to DE&I over the last decade or so, and there are no signs of things slowing down. From the Clarkston Diversity Council to our different ERGs - the Women's Empowerment Network, The Black Steward Network, The Pride Network, The Pan Asian Network, and the Neurodiversity Network, Clarkston really makes a place for everyone. Clarkston has also recently committed to 3-, 5-, and 10-year DE+I goals that will propel the organization forward.”
  • “DE&I has become a focal point at Clarkston, with a concentrated effort in defining 10-year DE&I goals as well as 5-year, 3-year, and 1-year feeder goals. Each Partner at the organization owns and is accountable to a specific goal. All of which is transparent to the organization, and feed into our DE&I Goal management team. This is leading-edge and I don't see many firms leaning into DE&I as much as Clarkston, which is already paying off dividends. Outside of the goals we have a strong DE&I Council that focuses on all aspects of the employee experience as well as manages our five ERGs”
  • “In 2019 we launched an Consistent and Equitable Career Experiences initiative that has evolved into both internal and external awareness and value added actions to ensure all people at our firm and within the communities that we serve in have access to information, as well as interesting/ high quality work and promotion opportunities. There's always more work to do—we're on the right path.”
  • “The firm has made an emphasis in the past year to define its vision for DE&I. The firm has made it a goal to have firmwide representation equal to that of the US demographics broadly, and its client base as well. In my opinion, this is a commendable goal for the firm to put its values into practice and promote voices to leadership and decision making that historically may have been looked over.”
  • “We have a plan for increasing DE&I within the firm and aiming to meet diversity goals within the next 10 years, with shorter goals in the interim. We are already ahead of where we should be from day one of the initiative.”

Business Outlook

  • “Clarkston has exceptional leadership. They are transparent and open to suggestions from employees who have ‘boots on the ground.’ From employee and client satisfaction to keeping up-to-date with industry trends, Clarkston keeps their fingers on the pulse to stay agile and ahead of the curve.”
  • “Employee morale is high, and many employees choose to make their career at the firm. We are well-positioned within our verticals, and we have had consecutive record-breaking profit years.”
  • “I think the company is in a strong position heading into the end of 2023, but the market is tricky right now and it is hard to predict how things may shift. Uncertainty in a market can effect employee morale but the company does make efforts to reinsure the workforce of our continued success and stability.”
  • “Much of the work that is done is in implementation, which continues to be strong.  Strategy roles continue to be limited, but several projects in new areas have been won/delivered in the last year and the target is to continue to grow the practice.”
  • “We seem to have a lot of great momentum pushing us forward. Morale seems good. Even with a slower economy, our services help clients succeed, so I foresee us continuing to have success. I really have nothing negative to comment on.”

Hiring Process

  • “For entry level/ associate positions: A recent college grad with business experience who is a while learner and an effective communicator. For higher level/manager positions: someone with industry knowledge and experience managing others.”
  • “I believe Clarkston is seeking motivated, hard-working, and genuine folks who welcome challenges and look for continuous growth and self-improvement opportunities.”
  • “Our firm is looking for candidates who are problem solvers and eager to learn and advise about the industries we serve across management, operations and implementation services. We look for stewards who are culture-adds and bring something new and refreshing to our firm so we can continue to learn and grow together.”
  • “The interview process for an entry level position typically consists of 3 stages of interviews, an initial callback, an interview with a current steward and the final interview with firm partners. In my experience this process did take some time but it was during the pandemic which had some unusual circumstances.”
  • “We hire many industry experts who help to guide individuals coming right out of college. The best candidates have an excitement to learn and contribute to the firm's culture.”

Interview Questions

  • “Case questions tend to be specific to either past industry work (retail for me) or broader for entry level. Mine was a strategy question on how I would go about presenting a strategy based on the case information given.”
  • “Explain a time you had to sell an idea to someone you did not know. Explain a time you had to help a person understand and accept change. What do you do to build trust with new people whom you must work with?”
  • “Please give me an example of when your communication skills made a critical difference in the outcome of a problem or event on the job.”
  • “Tell me about a time when an idea, proposal, or recommendation of yours was rejected by a customer (or someone else). What was the proposal and what did you do when it was rejected? What was the end result?”
  • “You are on a project team at a major beverage bottler who makes regular and diet cola. Lately, the company’s revenues from the sale of regular cola have dropped by 30% in the Georgia market. It is your job to help them understand why. How do you go about researching this issue?”
Clarkston Consulting

2655 Meridian Parkway
Durham, NC 27713
Phone: (800) 652-4274

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
CEO: Tom Finegan
President: Mike Hackett
CFO: Faith Kosobucki
2023 Employees (All Locations): 400

Major Office Locations

Durham, NC (HQ)
Atlanta, GA
Boston, MA
Bridgewater, NJ
Detroit, MI
Escondido, CA
Philadelphia, PA

Major Departments & Practices

  • Consumer Products & Life Sciences
  • Strategy & Innovation
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Supply Chain
  • Quality & Regulatory
  • Operational Excellence
  • Organizational Health
  • SAP Advisory and Implementation
  • Technology Advisory and Implementation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Data & Analytics
  • Managed Services
  • Project and Program Management