Transferring office locations - tips on making the move?

lemony's picture
Rank: Monkey | 53

Hey all,

Incoming consultant here to big 4 firm.

I will be working out of an East Coast based office, but I'm hoping to transfer to a West Coast based office at some point - has anyone done this and if so, any tips?

Thanks.

Comments (22)

Dec 15, 2014

It's fairly easy at Big 4, but I think you'll have to put in a year in your current location before you can make the move.

Most important thing is to make sure you are doing exceptional work - no office will want to take you if you've got a shitbag work ethic/poor ratings. Reach out to colleagues in your target office and start networking/try and get staffed on an engagement with them. Shouldn't be too much of a hassle - just make your intentions known when its time.

Dec 15, 2014

Much to what stig said, its pretty easy. a few things that might make it difficult is if the target office you're looking at in the west coast is not a big office for your assigned industry/sector. This would vary by big 4 company and their approach. But some big 4 firms assign their class by industry (e.g. FS, Consumer products, Healthcare etc.), so if the office you're trying to leave to is not a big office for industry it can be tough.

Otherwise, its really easy usually. I've seen more than 30% of my start class move offices. I cant speak to how all big 4 operate, but its more industry focused than geography focused. So switching offices is usually a lot easier than switching your industry.

Dec 15, 2014

Hugo and stig - thanks! Very helpful insights; will keep those in mind.

Jan 6, 2015

@"Hugo Stiglitz" or anyone else with B4 experience - have you ever heard of anyone transferring earlier than a year?

Jan 6, 2015

You could sneak move in like 6 months. With this all being said you need to way the pros and cons of moving early. At some firms you can put yourself back no matter what if you transfer. While they won't say it will affect your rating / evaluation it most likely will. But if you will be happier and you don't look at consulting as a long-term option (or your firm specifically) then it shouldn't really move.

Also, sneak moving is where your residence is really in another city - might be really hard to go from coast to coast; way more common for Midwestern rust belt offices to migrate to the big offices nearby (Chi, NYC, ATL).

Jan 6, 2015
Bluevball8:

Also, sneak moving is where your residence is really in another city - might be really hard to go from coast to coast; way more common for Midwestern rust belt offices to migrate to the big offices nearby (Chi, NYC, ATL).

Do people really do this? I know it may be feasible if you don't go in your home office much, but won't they see where your travel is originating from? Or on your paperwork?

Jan 6, 2015

Well it also depends on the alternative travel policies, where you're staffed, and a multitude of other things. It's risky and many times takes a career sacrifice to accomplish. Realistically though, you can do it. Pretty much the entire Cleveland office at my firm doesn't live in or near Cleveland anymore. Most of them stuck it out for a year then moved, but it is possible and happens all of the time.

Overall, you have a ton of options and just need to make the best decision for yourself. Also, just as an FYI, if you have family / S.O. in the other city people will judge you a lot less for heading there often / asking to transfer after a year. In fact, in many cases, the ramifications are heavily mitigated.

Jan 8, 2015

I've actually had colleagues transfer within 8 months I think? It kidn of depends on how that specific B4 is structured, mine is purely by industry. Location doesnt have too much of an impact, or at least thats what i've been told from HR and our leadership, so as logn as the office you transfer to is also a hub for said industry you should be fine.

Also, the reason for your transfer is can also help with the speed of the transfer- if its family reason or something big, then they will allow you to transfer faster, or if you're a high-performing individual, then will also do what they can to help you.

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Best Response
Jan 6, 2015

I changed home offices this year after 10 months with my firm. Many good points have already been made but the surest and quickest way to move (and possibly get them to sponsor it) is to get staffed on the West Coast. If there is a business need and you are a high performer after a few months on the project I'm sure the partner on the project would sponsor your move. Its very simple math. Just calculate your typical monthly expenses (airfare, rental car, hotel, etc.) and you have a compelling argument for why your firm should allow you to move.

It also helps to have more work in the pipeline on the west coast that you align well to demonstrating that the move is a sustainable one.

Hope this helps!

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Jan 6, 2015

@"6pence" and @"Bluevball8", thanks for your input. "Sneak moving" is definitely not possible in my circumstance - the firm has made clear that newer consultants are expected to pay their dues and show up at the home office on Fridays (along with heavy networking, coffee chats with senior practitioners, helping with recruiting, etc) for the first several months.

The industry I'll be aligned with has a good number of clients across the country, and I know for a fact the West Coast office has a decently sized practice group in this area. From what I've read online, it seems like the firm has consolidated its West Coast offices, which could be the reason why getting placed there wasn't possible through recruiting. I've already met a couple of senior practitioners from my home office who are staffed on West Coast projects (thank god for flexible travel arrangements) so I'll continue to get to know them and hopefully align myself with work in the region.

Out of curiosity, what are people's thoughts on cold-contacting other consultants in West Coast offices on Linkedin or otherwise (especially if we have mutual friends and/or common alma mater), and shooting them a quick note? Something along the lines of: "Hi, my name is XYZ from the ATL office, looking to transition to SF office at some point - would love to hear about your projects over a Friday call"

Thanks all for your help. Very useful stuff - keep it coming.

Jan 6, 2015

I transferred from the west coast to NYC 8 months into my first year at a big four firm. I had a business case and coming from West to East is easier due to need.

With that said - around when I left the firm they were sending a good amount of people to SF as they had a large advisory need at the time.

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Jan 7, 2015

How easy is it to move internationally within Big 4 Consulting after a few years, from say London to the US? I understand some companies like Deloitte are organised as different entities for different markets. l know of a few cases of it going the other way from NY to London, but have you seen this happen before?

Starting out of UG next year, and would definitely like to spend a few years in the States 2-5 years down the line.

Jan 7, 2015

At my old firm, the international mobility starts kicking in about 3 years in. You have to show good performance and loyalty to the firm.

Jan 7, 2015

Thanks @NYCBarca, that's in line with what I was expecting. I did hear that moving from US to London or Singapore is a much easier move than the other way around. Do you know if this was the case at your firm?

Jan 9, 2015

There are formal exchange programs too but generally aimed at seniors and managers, short term and long term. Be a top performer, make a business case and get partner buy in.

Jan 10, 2015

For those of you who did transfer, did it feel like you were starting all over again? I'm surprised know one has mentioned this. I was in a similar situation, and it turned out for the better overall, but when it came time for performance reviews in my new office, I felt like I would have had much much more of an edge if my colleagues had had a longer history with me and, therefore, more to say about me. And not just that, but them also having a better sense of the trajectory of my growth through the company and confidence that any positive experiences with me were due to something fundamental about the way I work and not just a one or two time thing.

Jan 10, 2015

worded - thanks for bringing that point up, that's a very valid question. Aside from facilitating the transfer, what are people's suggestions for ensuringf a smooth transition into the new home office? Any major dos or don'ts?

Apr 8, 2015
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