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Consultants at firms like McKinsey, BCG, Bain opt to work on a flexible basis – The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Kartik Dhar, a senior associate consultant spent close to 2.5 years at Bain before taking a six month break in September 2013. He and his IIT batch mate and fellow senior associate consultant Nitish Bhushan are starting-up Clothzy.com, which is an online portal that will connect designers and apparel stores to customers. Dhar will rejoin Bain this April, but will also be involved with the start–up in a part time role. “I wanted to take some time to do something on my own, and I’m thankful to Bain for giving me this great opportunity to pursue my passion,” he says. His venture, Dhar says, is similar to Zomato, then Foodie Bay, when it was co-founded by ex-Bain consultant Pankaj Chaddah while he was working at Bain in 2008. Like Dhar, more and more consultants at top firms like McKinsey, BCG, Bain and also those from audit and advisory firms KPMG and PwC are opting out of punishing 15-18 hour work days the job sometimes demands. Many are increasingly opting to work on a flexible or contract basis, working 2-3 days a week or even taking sabbaticals and entrepreneurial and rejuvenation breaks to pursue their passions. “There’s a wide variety of opportunities out there, and many of our young – and not-so-young – colleagues are interested in exploring these options, as they look to do something else that they are passionate about,” says Nikhil Prasad Ojha, strategy head of Bain & Company India and a partner who oversees HR. Two years after McKinsey introduced the Take Time sabbatical policy in India, the number of consultants seeking flexible work arrangements have risen from 8% in 2012 to 10%. At Bain, more than 20% of the 200 consultants have sought flexible work options over the past few years. A partner took a six months’ break to do an Alaska to Zanzibar trip with his family. Adarsh Nair, a Bain consultant who was passionate about soccer, took time off to do an ‘externship’ with Baichung Bhutia and helped the soccer star set up a football academy. “The opportunity with a start-up allowed me to use my problem solving skills in a completely different environment,” says Nair. While he was not entitled to monthly salaries at Bain, Nair continued to be covered under other benefits like company-sponsored insurance. His mentors and reviewer kept track of what he was doing, and through frequent chats with them and the feedback from the academy’s leadership team, Nair was given tenure credit, which meant he did not lose out on appraisals and promotions . Nair rejoined Bain in March 2012, but he left again in September 2012 to pursue his MBA from London Business School. Two years ago, Bain introduced Take Two, which allows employees to take an extended break (typically two months) to rejuvenate or fulfil personal goals.
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