Morning Coffee: How to fake 80 hour work weeks and get promoted. Hedge fund personality tests

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If you thought the hours in consulting were easier than the hours in investment banking, you were wrong. They're as bad. - And that's very bad indeed. Helpfully, however, an academic has studied how top consultants fake working long hours so that they can still get star ratings and achieve promotions.

Erin Reid, an assistant professor of organisation behaviour at Boston University's Questrom School of Business, interviewed more than 100 people at a 'global strategy firm with a strong US presence.' Writing in Harvard Business Review, she describes how, like corporate finance professionals, the consultants were expected to be constantly 'on': Many reported 60- to 80-hour weeks, with little control over when those hours were worked and whether they might have to travel. Work was expected to come ahead of other life responsibilities.'

When the male consultants attempted to pullback and spend more time with their families, Reid said they were penalized and missed promotions. Extra family time was unacceptable, although time off for expensive holidays was perfectly fine. Here and there, however, Reid came across clusters of male consultants who'd figured out how to work short hours without the company noticing. One senior manager admitted to spending the previous five work days skiing with his son, saying "I took calls in the morning and in the evening...No one knows where I am."

Others worked in a team where everyone agreed to work 9-5 and to pretend to the rest of the company that they were far more diligent. "We’ve really designed the whole business [unit] around having intellectual freedom, making a lot of money, [and] having work–life balance," one team member told Reid. "It’s pretty rare. And we don’t get pushback from above because we are squaring that circle—from the managing partners— ’cause we are one of the most successful parts of the company." Bankers should take note.

Separately, be warned if you're going for an interview at Tourbillon Capital Partners, a hedge fund in New York City. Tourbillon reportedly puts all its new hires through a 'three step personality exam'.  The nature of the exam is undisclosed, but the fund is apparently looking for 'openness to change and grit.' It categorizes its hires into three groups: excellent, dangerous and nuisance. Dangerous hires are the most brilliant: They are “impervious to pain” and “reckless,” said CEO Jason Karp.


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