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Overview

Introduction

 

Those looking to break into the consulting industry are smart to give ghSMART a closer look. As a lean yet impactful boutique, ghSMART exposes you to endless opportunities to network and develop deep relationships with powerful C-Suite clients—giving you an “on-the-ground” view of the action at an exciting leadership advisory firm. And did we mention that ghSMART is 100% employee-owned? How’s that for owning your career?

Company Stats


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Employer Type


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Size


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Featured Rankings

Vault Consulting 50...


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Major Departments/Practice Areas

Leadership Advisory...


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Major Office Locations

US and UK...


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Employment Contact

Merry Beth Murtaugh- Human Resource Director...

Firsthand Findings

 

Insiders at ghSMART & Co. are hard pressed to name many substantive areas of improvement for their firm. Widely considered an industry leader in the field of leadership development and evaluation, ghSMART has a reputation for delivering a tremendous ROI for their C-suite clients and making a lasting impact for some of the world’s top companies. ghSMART employees take a great deal of pride in the deep relationships they’ve developed with these global leaders, and credit early exposure to executive clients as a key differentiator for people looking to grow their skills at a rapid clip.

“Free choice” is a phrase you’ll hear often when talking to a ghSMART employee; it is the system that governs the firm’s collective work ethic—an dis...

About the Company

 

The early leaders of ghSMART set out to create a top firm in the emerging segment of professional services called management assessment. Nearly 25 years later, the firm is made up of more than fifty consultants and, while management assessment is still the core of their business, ghSMART’s scope has expanded as well. Today, the firm serves clients on a broad range of their most critical talent and organizational challenge.

Who’s on First?

ghSMART is the firm clients go to when they have questions about their people—the “who” that makes an organization work. This is why the firm hires not only top strategy consultants, but also talent from psychology consulting practices, law firms, and corporations. Hiring expert talent from such diverse backgrounds gives the f...

Employee Reviews


  • “We hire the absolutely best people so we can focus all of our energy on serving CEOs, boards, and investors. This focus on the top of the house enables us to deliver the most impact to the entire organization.”
  • “Most high impact work you can do, advising senior executives on their most important challenge, their people...while having complete flexibility.”
  • “We take a data-oriented approach to deeply understanding people and talent issues, allowing us to advise our clients on the optimal decisions to ensure they have highly productive leadership teams that operate well-run companies.”
  • “Our founder is a generous, good-natured, common-sense man who has injected his values and personality into our culture. High-achieving professionals like me rarely get to work for a person like him so we have no real reason to look around once we are at ghSMART. This allows us to always hire and retain the top talent in this industry.”
  • “If the candidate is someone who enjoys working with people, thinking about people and talent issues, brings strong analytical and communications skills, and is comfortable working in a generally virtual environment, there is literally no better firm than ghSMART!”
  • “I partner with the best people in the world to drive significant impact for our clients in a challenging, fun, and diverse culture.”
  • “Absolutely outstanding. I work hard, but it's on my terms. I travel in a typical week about one day, sometimes two, and it's very easy to juggle that. I take off the time I want to take off, which is important to me.”
  • “We are a virtual firm so all work from home. After well over a decade in a large consulting firm where we worked in office, coming to ghSMART shows me that we can do higher quality, meaningful work, all while being able to have a healthy home life. It's been life changing. I get to work with some of the largest companies in the world, offering a tremendous amount of impact, from home.”
  • “The freedom from an office and any "face time" requirements, coupled with the ability to work when and where convenient give you an unbelievable ability to structure your life. We work hard, and on high stakes matters, but we can structure the work in a way that works for our lives.”
  • “The most important thing they do is let us work virtually. We can choose the routines and atmosphere that let us work our best and take care of ourselves. For example I work from home so I can meditate in the middle of the day, work standing up or sitting on the floor, eat food from my own kitchen, etc.”
  • “Rather than offering formal programs, we create the space for consultants to pursue health and wellness in the way that most suits them. Our "free choice" culture enables consultants to design their career at ghSMART, including how they want to integrate health and wellness (and all of life) into their work and vice versa.”
  • “Our culture is based on the bedrock concept of "free choice", which means we treat everyone as adults and allow them to choose how much they want to work. This includes vacation. We don't have a formal policy, but rather encourage our team to take vacation whenever it suits them. Obviously, we coordinate with our clients and teams, but it is still up to the consultant.”
  • “We offer a base, bonus, and commission, where the bonus covers a range of items on the job scorecard and the commission covers direct delivery. That's what enables the free choice model to work so well. Because we offer the same scorecard and compensation to everyone, everyone has the same opportunity to make money. We are completely transparent about how it all works, so nobody is ever surprised by what they make. As people progress, we layer in additional bonus and commission dollars for higher value-add contributions. Most of our team would say they can make the same or more here as anywhere else.”
  • “Compensation is competitive with other leading firms (e.g. Bain/BCG/McKinsey). You also are appropriately compensated for when you put in more work (i.e. pay increases in a linear proportion to time invested). It is also relatively easy to turn it up or turn it down when needed.”
  • “Compensation is highly tied to activity. The more work you take on the more you get paid. It's nice to be able to see a direct link between how much effort you put in and the value you create for the firm and client and the value you get out.”
  • “Great base salary with the opportunity for additional income through commissions and end of year bonus.”
  • "I am confident that our firm pays equally regardless of issues such as gender. We have been very open minded and clear on these fronts. These are the best aspects. The worst aspect is that even though I have sold business, I receive no payment unless I bring in an individual project or client over $500k. It is disheartening as I have brought in a few six figure clients, though they do not meet the $500k threshold.”
  • “It is largely a commission-based model, which is great. If you want to work the base amount, you get paid the base salary. If you want to work more, you make more, and it can be quite rewarding.”
  • “In addition to extensive onboarding and ongoing formal training, our firm is a well-oiled machine in terms of its apprenticeship model. You have the opportunity to shadow the work, be observed and coached doing the work long before you do the work on your own - and even then, you are peer-reviewed along the way to ensure continued learning and that we do the right thing for our clients. If you ever don't know something or need guidance, there are always tens of colleagues willing to help. Plus, we just moved to a more systematic promotion process, whereby your performance and development are constantly being reviewed, targeted guidance is provided, and when the time is right, you are promoted to the next level.”
  • "My firm is very encouraging of entrepreneurship and innovation. There is very little stopping someone from creating their own role as long as it will lead to genuine value.”
  • “Our development breaks down into three, distinct elements. First, we train our team starting with a rigorous on-boarding program that introduces new consultants to our team and teaches them the basic skills of the job. We supplement that with periodic deep dive training throughout the first year and beyond. This includes a recent addition of unconscious bias training. Second, we assign a mentor to everyone from day-one, and consultants can rotate their mentors every year to get different perspectives. Consultants meet with mentors about every other week to talk about career development, projects to consider taking on, how to navigate ghSMART, and more. Third, we put a lot of emphasis in on-the-job training and give constant feedback after client interactions to help people learn and grow in real time. Finally, we are in the process of layering on top of all of that a rigorous professional development approach where consultants will have a PD manager actively supporting them in concert with mentors. As for promotion, we give the team scorecards that lay out clear expectations for each role, and promote when people are both interested and ready. We don't have time constraints or an up-or-out policy. People can choose the pace at which they want to grow. It's worth noting that 55% of our consultants are women (and 44% of our partners, which continues to grow as we grow).”
  • “The best aspect is the ability to learn and grow from working with the most talented and amazing colleagues imaginable. People are very generous with their time, and willing to help you learn and grow. It's a very supportive professional development/career development environment here, based on meritocracy, learning, and freedom.”
  • “The best aspect of ghSMART career development is that it's a choose-your-own-adventure approach. The firm is highly supportive of allowing it's people to focus on what they feel is right for them, be it a partner-path or expert-path, and also on what particular sub-areas of focus. In that way, everyone can focus and develop in the areas that are best suited for them.”
  • “The firm is still growing and expanding our professional development program, but our introduction training and mentorship has been the best I've seen and experienced. There are clear promotion scorecards and significant attention is paid to development - both in terms of formal training as well as informal mentorship.”
  • “Today, 55% of our consultants and 44% of our partners are women, and we continue to work to increase our leadership ranks with women. 17% of our consultants are people of color, and we have raised our goals recently to expand our diversity in that way. Finally, we have many veterans as well. Our scorecards and compensation system treat everyone the same and is transparent, making it very easy to audit if ever something is off. As far as I can tell, we have never discriminated on the basis of any of these factors, but to the contrary, have built an operating model that gives everyone an equal opportunity.”
  • “We are HIGHLY COMMITTED to D&I efforts at ghSMART, and we have a diverse team of consultants at all levels. Pay is 100% fair, as it is a formula that is fixed for all. We are also taking considerable actions to increase how we encourage and influence D&I efforts with our clients and in our communities at large. In fact, we have had committee meetings recently to discuss key actions we are going to take to further enhance our impact in those areas with leaders around the world.”
  • “We have a completely transparent revenue and salary model that is commission based. It is gender blind. We are also over 50% women on the consulting/client-facing team and over 40% female partners.”
  • “Our firm is extremely gender diverse. We have many women at the top level of our firm. We have many veterans in every level of our firm.”
  • “Fairness and inclusion are steadfast values of the firm.”
  • “Our firm is at least half women and a large majority of those women are mothers. I’ve never seen a successful, prestigious firm where half the partners are women. And I’ve never met so many role models that inspire me personally and professionally. It’s truly unique and so special.”
  • “As with everyone else right now, Covid-19 has created uncertainty. However, our clients continue to tell us that they highly value the work we are doing, which makes me optimistic that there will be a near-term hiccup but long-term sustained growth.”
  • "Despite the pandemic, we have managed to stay on track with our original business plan for the year. Fortune 500 and private equity clients continue to call on us to help them solve their trickiest leadership issues, and that seems to have held up despite economic turmoil in the market. Demand has outstripped our ability to serve it for almost our entire history (the exception being in 2009), so we feel bullish about our outlook. We believe we pioneered the “leadership advisory” segment of the management consulting market, and clients and competitors alike continue to tell us that we are the one to beat. This keeps us on our toes, and we invest considerable energy in improving our solutions and model to create as much value for our clients as possible while simultaneously creating the most fulfilling career experience possible.”
  • “The firm is eager to innovate but has yet to crack the code on technology innovation (they are close to a breakthrough here but not there yet). Other than that, the firm easily achieves 25% annual growth and is easily the highest-regarded brand in our space.”
  • “Not only did we not decline during COVID-19, but we are up year-over-year, and continue to operate at full capacity. We are hiring new talent, and remain at the forefront of intellectual property and quality when it comes to hiring, developing, and coaching executive talent.”
  • “Our model is based on interpersonal connections, so it's harder to scale except by adding people, and finding top people is always challenging.”
  • “The leadership consulting market is fast growing and we are the premier provider within the market.”

Why Work Here


Racial Equality and Diversity

ghSMART acknowledges that bias, prejudice, and violence against Black people and other underrepresented groups exist in the United States and around the world. We believe a key part of the solution is leadership—on all of our parts, in the public sector as well as in the private sector. We believe that a great leader, more than anything else, elevates the quality of life of the individual, group, and society. Not satisfied with the status quo, ghSMART is increasing its commitment of resources and time to hiring and developing more diverse leaders, including leaders of color, within our firm, within our clients, and around the world. We stand together with anti-racist people from all backgrounds, taking action to improve the state of freedom and justice for all.

Getting Hired Here


  • “My firm has a very selective but rewarding interview process. Candidates often leave the process feeling like they learned surprising insights about themselves. My firm is seeking a people-oriented, data-driven strategy consultant who knows what it takes to perform at the highest levels in places like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and who has the presence and synthesis skills to engage with C-level and Board-level clients.”
  • “Process: We start with an introductory call and two phone screens to test interest and vet qualifications. We also ask the candidate to complete a case. If both the candidate and ghSMART remain interested, we conduct a rigorous, 4-hour assessment where we walk through the person's career asking the five questions described above. We follow that with references and a background check, while also giving the candidate a chance to speak with around 5 or more of our colleagues, including our managing partner. We are seeking 1) exceptional strategy consultants with high EQ who understand the people issues, 2) exceptional PhD psychologists who understand business, and 3) operators with an unusual combination of IQ, EQ, and passion for leadership challenges.”
  • “The ideal candidate has performed in the top 10% of his or her peer group at a top consulting firm, is highly-regarded by peers, has advised at least a dozen CEOs and senior executives of major companies. [She or he] has generosity & gratitude, has a propensity to lead, is empathetic and persuasive, graduated near the top of the class at a top university, is coachable and committed to their own personal growth & development. [They] deeply enjoy helping leaders to amplify their positive impact on the world.”
  • “We are looking for individuals that are highly interested in human capital space, focus on people, but are also strong problem solvers and can be highly effective trusted advisors to very senior executives.”
  • “We are seeking individuals who are: 1) Highly motivated and top performing, 2) Passionate about people, talent, and organization, 3) Smart and analytical in their reasoning, 4) Strong at communicating and influencing in tough situations, both in verbal and written form, 5) Highly collaborative, especially in virtual settings, 6) Organized and with solid project management skills. I'm sure there are some aspects I am forgetting, but the general sense is that we are looking for the best and brightest people-oriented people from top consulting firms or PhD psychology backgrounds.”
  • “We have an extensive interview process with multiple rounds and an in-depth SmartAssessment.”
  • “ghSMART uses it's own hiring process, as described in our best-selling book, Who.”
  • “We are the leaders when it comes to hiring talent for key roles, and have a proprietary process for doing so, as documented in the book Who, released in 2008. To that end, all of our recruits go through the same rigorous process, which begins with several phone screen interviews, proceeds to a thorough in-person SmartAssessment interview, and then if they successfully pass through those stages, there is also extensive follow-up calls and references before we make the ultimate decision. As a result, we only hire the best of the best "people-people" from top consulting firms, PhDs in psychology with significant work experience, and more and more folks with diverse other backgrounds who meet our high bar.
  • “We put all consultant candidates through a series of interviews and also a case study. One of the interviews is a 4-5 hour deep dive on the individual's life and career - which is the same tool we use when assessing executives.”
  • “ghSMART has the most rigorous hiring process of any firm I've heard of… The process is a career interview (goals, strengths, areas for improvement), followed by several other shorter interviews, followed by a 4-hour in-depth chronological interview that covers your whole life span, followed by 7-10 reference check interviews and a background check, Q&A with the Chairman & Founder, the Managing Partner, and the CFO. It's extremely thorough and the hiring success rate is well over 90%.”
  • “What will your most recent boss say about you? What metric most highlights your success? How would you have re-allocated your time in role x so you would have been more successful?”
  • “We use the WHO interview as one of the steps in our process. That is as thorough an interview as you could possibly go through. It is the same interview we conduct of C-level execs for our clients.”

Perks & Benefits