Something for Congress to investigate

I write to tell you about a conspiracy more insidious than the Clinton pardons. I may be discriminated against for what I say here, but the public needs to know what I have uncovered.

Like many seniors, I began this year thinking about my future. Like many in the class of ’01, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life. So, I decided to pursue two avenues that would allow me to put off this decision for a few more years: applying to law school and consulting jobs.

But I digress.

Last semester, I visited a posh room at the Omni Hotel. I sat across the table from a well-dressed, well-groomed member of Generation X. And I told him how I would go about expanding the capabilities of a broadband infrastructure company.

This was a typical consulting interview. The well-dressed man worked for a prestigious consulting firm, and he started the conversation by asking me about my resume. He nonchalantly listened as I spoke of my achievements at Yale and my academic interests.

Then he popped the “case question.”

I’ve come to realize he was part of a massive conspiracy. He told me the problem he asked me to address was one that a client had asked him to solve. Immediately, I grew suspicious.

I grew more suspicious when his nonchalance turned into avid interest as I described what I thought the company should do. He took copious notes on my plan.

Basically, in answering his question, I was giving him an opinion on which he could turn a profit. And as I was answering his question, a student at another elite university was offering their opinion. Down the hall at least three more Yalies were doing the same thing.

It’s not hard to see what was going on. Consulting firms send out their agents to the most revered institutions in the country. They pose as “interviewers.” But they do not come unarmed. They are armed with problems that corporations have asked Andersen, McKinsey and Monitor to solve. Their mission is to gather as many potential answers to these problems as possible.

Upon achieving their mission, these “interviewers” return to headquarters in New York and other major metropolitan areas where they pool the various opinions of the intellectual elite. Then they choose the best answer, turn it into a Powerpoint presentation and slap on a few graphs to make it look like they actually did some research.

Consulting is a sham. The firms are actually mere money vacuums. They take on problems that companies can solve on their own; then to save themselves the trouble of answering them, they pass on the work to college seniors. Oh, how insidious.

Sure, the firms may hire some of the people they exploit. Give them cushy salaries. And of course, require them to sign a confidentiality agreement. Then they may give them some mock cases to work on for a while, build their confidence in the company and show them that they do valuable work.

But soon enough, they send those same college graduates out on the type of unconscionable mission I have described here. At first, they are merely hospitality officers. But soon enough they are promoted to spy. The partners sit the associates down. Tell them the real business of the company and then unleash them.

Since they’re used to the cushy jobs and bound by a confidentiality agreement, they don’t protest. They head off to plunder the intellectual capital of the universities. It’s like John Grisham’s “The Firm.”

I say Congress should investigate the fraud that the consulting companies are perpetrating on the corporations of America. I implore those on the inside not to be fearful. Besides, if you come forward now, you can avoid blowing all of your savings on a last-minute presidential pardon.



Phil Fortino is a senior in Saybrook College. His columns appear on Fridays.

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