Tuesday 20 August 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'Consultants are taking the PwC'

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Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

It used to be that smart Irish mothers would tell their children to get into the law. Smart Irish mothers knew that everything always ends in tears and that when it inevitably does, lawyers are there to ramp up the aggro, and with it the billable hours. There will always be a living in things falling apart and love turning to hate.

But now smart Irish mothers are telling their kids to get into consultancy. Consultants are the new cockroaches. They'll outlive all other professions, poring over what went wrong and producing reports on it. As long as people cock things up, there'll always be work for the consultants, and people always cock things up.

But even the smartest Irish mother couldn't have predicted how spectacularly everybody would start cocking everything up. Everyone basically cocks everything up now. You're nobody these days if you don't have some firm of expensive college graduates in raking over the coals of the latest cock-up.

Some bodies, like the FAI, might even have two firms of consultants raking over more or less the same coals together.

Soon people will be calling in consultants to figure out what went wrong with the last consultants.

It's all the rage in the state sector, too. Whenever there's a cock-up, kick it into the safe hands of the consultants and then say you can't answer any questions about it because the consultants are looking into it. By the time the consultants report back, everyone has moved on, so you just say that you accept the recommendations and you will be implementing them all.

And, of course, the great thing about being a consultant is that you don't need to actually know how to do anything yourself, you just tell other people what they're doing wrong, like an annoying backseat driver.

Indeed, as bosses become more and more terrified of making any decisions that could come back to bite them, consultants are now involved in helping with future direction and decision making, too. This involves coming in with a whiteboard and Post-its and asking everyone to shout out words, which are then whittled down to three words, and bob's your uncle, that's the answer to everything: "Passion, integrity, drive", or "People, future, hope". You get the gist.

Consultants are gradually taking over the world. Now that Brexit is stalled, we should take the opportunity to call in the consultants. And surely America needs to get out the post-it notes.

Word is PwC is even setting up a domestic disputes division where you can call in a college graduate to examine what went wrong with everything from household chores to who is bringing the kids to GAA.

And the best part is, once the consultants are in, you can't discuss the matter with your other half.

Sunday Independent

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