Ugly Consultants

April 26th, 2010

The Ugly Consultant

Consulting is very diverse. It has to be. We make money from understanding our clients, no matter their cultural background or heritage. It pays us dividends to have a diverse employee body – we can sell that multicultural workforce and boiling pot of language skills to help up our utilisation rates.

There’s no inequality or racism in this industry (fascism don’t pay so well)– which is something I’m truly proud to say. However – and you will laugh at this – however, I implore you to find an ugly consultant.
That’s right. There are no ugly consultants.

The graduate intake this year had people every hair and skin colour you could imagine and all 200 of them magically avoided getting a good hard slap with the ugly stick on their way into the world. I don’t mean that the welcome day was like standing backstage at Milan fashion week but there was no one could could really say was unfortunately featured.
The women were all generically medium height and build; no one had much in the way of a few pounds to spare or any outstanding body morphs like immense breasts or stubby legs or double chins. The men are all well built and fall neatly into either ruggedly handsome or soft-middle-manager foppish -you know the type, drinks cocktails and likes cricket. Everyone has good teeth, skin and hair and a big friendly smile. No dodgy haircuts, bad makeup or tasteless clothes on show either. Demure suits, understated accessories and an all over natural look was the key trends being rocked at the newstarts induction event. It was quite refreshing, really, to escape the plethora of orange faces and skinny jeans.

Where to they get this seething mass of “normal” people? It all starts at the interview. I’ve often pondered what the optimum brains:sociability:looks ratio is for the interviewees. There’s the clear specification of having exceptional school grades, a “good” degree from a “good” university and buckets of life and work experience but I wonder what the unmentioned appearance specifications are. Do they score down a first in a maths degree with being overweight with bad skin? Will they take the person with the less technical background because they look more presentable and has a gleaming smile with no fillings? Maybe you’ve never worked a full time job in your life but it sure sounds like you can sell snow to the Eskimos so we’ll take you.

At first, I felt it was hugely unethical until I remembered that consultants are essentially salespeople. You bid for a piece of work, you send your photo in on your CV, you attend an interview for most client projects you go on. The client is paying an arm and a leg for your services and whether we, them or anyone else wants to admit or not, they want to feel that they they’re getting a premium rate service and that means looking that part. When I pay for a top of the range business hotel in the heart of the city I EXPECT more than the three star sun, sea and sand resort I stayed in last summer with the late deals of teletext. At the end of the day, the client wants us to help them with a piece of work, and at the end of the day I want a bed to sleep in. Beyond the transactional level, I’m not only expecting my expensive hotel to not only serve my needs but it has to have tea and coffee making, padded walls, a fitness suite, room service. Needless to say, the client is also expecting the bells and whistles of a friendly, sociable, confident and approachable person who doesn’t come with hidden surprises like a spliced snake tongue or tattoo sleeves or the worst eyeliner since 1986.

We are here to sell work and sell the company and like it or lump it, there’s a huge body of literature out there saying that ugly people are percieved differently from non ugly people. It’s part of our sad human condition that we automatically assume attractive people to be happier, smarter and earn more regardless if this is true or not. It’s not morally “just” but it is true.

2 responses

  1. Haydon comments:

    Wait… what about me?

  2. Consulting Reality comments:

    I’m sure you aren’t that bad!

Leave a comment