Thoughts on international Yoga day


India has contributed a lot to the civilized world – and Yoga is definitely in “top 10″ category . In a world where everyone seems to be stressed out , celebrating a day in honor of the ancient practice of yoga makes a lot of sense to me . Plus – it is a huge honor for India. 

I am not a practitioner of yoga – but my mom, my father in law and several others in my extended family , as well as several friends and colleagues are yoga practitioners . I would resist the temptation to call them yogis , given I grew up listening to tales of yogis who have moved on to a different plane of mind . These folks I know – to the extend I know – are kind of early in that journey , and do it today mostly in lieu of daily exercise . I definitely am planning to start learning yoga asap. 

I saw some folks resisting international yoga day by attaching religious reasons for that . This makes very little sense to me, who grew up celebrating Christmas and Eid just as much as Onam and Vishu . For those folks – I hope they are tolerant enough to view it as a way to honor their country and a good way to get some exercise . Diseases of body and mind don’t descriminate between Hindu and Muslim . 

It would be naive to think there is no religious aspect to BJP government pushing for yoga day . There are many hardliners in the ruling party who think India is for Hindus , and they may look at yoga as a Hindu tradition . But that is misguided . It’s hard to correct these people – so let them be .

That is all the good stuff . Now about some things that bother me about yoga day . 

Amongst the most pressing problems that need attention , yoga is not a top ten item for India . A good number of people cannot eat three meals a day in this country . Similarly the health care situation is pretty pathetic for a large section of society . Those are all things that need a lot of time and resources to fix . A hungry man would choose food over yoga every day of the week , how much ever it is advertised . 

Then there is the issue of pollution . Between the increase in number of cars , the felling of trees , the number of houses and offices that use air conditioning and so on – air pollution is significant in pretty much every big city in India . Practioners of yoga – especially those that do it outdoors – are going to deeply inhale highly polluted air . I have to wonder if there is any point to this exercise , including the spectacle of Guinness record winning crowd in Delhi doing it in public . 

Talking of pollution – water and food are also subjected to poisonous stuff to a great degree . In the last three weeks here on vacation , I saw three separate programs on local TV showing heavy use of chemicals on fruits and vegetables . Several people I know are now growing their own vegetables because they can’t trust the stuff they buy in open markets . What exactly is the point of doing yoga and then eating and drinking such polluted food and water ?

Hopefully there will be great planning and execution by the government to make India holistically healthy , and that this yoga day is just a good first step .

Open source Hana – some random thoughts 


Dennis Howlett penned his thoughts on open sourcing SAP Hana http://diginomica.com/2015/06/17/should-sap-open-source-hana/ that  led to a fairly good debate on Facebook , and I thought I will share some thoughts on the topic here on my blog

Hana is a great piece of software which is a full fledged database , and have some lightweight app server capabilities . While it could very well be a general purpose database – historically it’s been used mostly under SAP business suite and business warehouse , and some data mart type use cases . It’s a well crafted piece of software and of course I am a bit partial to it . So what about open sourcing it ? 

I was a big proponent of open sourcing Hana when it first came out . I no longer think it is a great idea . Here are six random reasons why 

1. By now , there are way too many open source databases optimized for many different things . No first mover advantage remains for sap 

2. These open source databases all have large community following . SAP has a very large (larger than most open source databases) and loyal community who need to be nurtured on to Hana . That is a much more pragmatic approach than getting say Hadoop developers to switch to Hana 

3. Hana is rather limited on drivers . If widespread adoption by community is needed , SAP will need to support drivers for many languages on Hana . I don’t see the need for that investment given the heavy focus on S4Hana for near future . River was not the right approach in my opinion – that is not how real life developers build apps . That is an academic view of the world . 

4. Developers need software they can play with quickly and decide if their use case is a good fit . The trial needs to be quick to install , learn and tweak . People are happy to pay for support and enterprise grade features . Don’t confuse between open source licensing and open source business model . SAP can keep Hana commercial and just focus on making Hana extremely developer friendly for unlimited trials to get to the same results

5. What is really different between an open source database company that employs all (or most) of its commiters and SAP ? In both cases the company controls product direction – with of course some input from company . This is not a valid reason for SAP to open source Hana in my opinion . Of course not all open source companies employ all their commiters – but many successful ones do exactly that . Essentially that negates the argument that no one has all answers to a problem . The better solution is in vendors working together to make interoperability work better – consistentcy in driver support , security , provisioning , HA/DR etc 

6. Hana is not the only game for SAP. For SAP business model – till cloud can pick up significantly in net new business , it makes more sense to have Hana as high ASP , lower volume as sales model . That is the opposite of typical open source subscription model by other database vendors . SAP already sells Hana as a subscription I think – but doing it at scale , at a comparable price point to say MongoDB , Cassandra etc is just too disruptive in my mind . They might get there at some point – and to do a subscription business , software doesn’t need to be open source licensed necessarily .

Incredibly Beautiful India


Over the last couple of weeks of vacation , I have made two fairly long road trips across South India. First I drove with my friend from Bangalore to Ooty and back . Next I drove with my family from Trivandrum to Rameswaram and back . 

The first thing I noticed was the quality of roads – they are quite good . Gone are the potholes I remember from childhood . There are long stretches of good quality highways which are well maintained . This is one area where Kerala could do a lot better .  The slowest stretch on my way back to Trivandrum was from Kerala border to my home in Vellayambalam . That is rather embarrassing . Most stretches were toll roads – and that is one thing Kerala could do better . It is high time to let go of the resistance to toll roads and couple it with a strong will to hold the toll collectors responsible for quality of roads .

The shade of blue that colors Bay of Bengal at Rameswaram was the most beautiful I have ever seen an ocean . And the drive back through coconut groves , organic salt farms , mountains with thousands of wind mills and so on was breath taking .

   
   

  
The two things that need attention along the scenic route are food and bathrooms . Actually the food is pretty tasty – there just aren’t enough signs on the road to direct you to the restaurants on the service roads . Bathrooms need urgent attention – there just aren’t enough of them along the highway and most are not kept clean . It’s high time we fixed that .

I was also pretty amazed that google maps proved to be totally accurate on these roads . They estimated time to drive almost to the minute and many a time , saved us from taking wrong turns . But I should add that big signs along the highway are a must have in these national highways . Highway signs are smaller than the street signs in most of western world today .

The trip to Ooty was the first time I stayed in Masinagudi , in the thick Neelgiris forests bordering Karnataka , Tamilnadu and Kerala . 

  
This land is home to 7000 wild elephants , as well as large populations of Tigers ,leopards etc.  I spotted maybe 500 deer , and a few wild boars . No elephants or leopards were sighted unfortunately despite hearing the warning cries from langurs early in the morning indicating that big cats are nearby. 

  
This picture was taken from a watch tower in our forest lodge . The bamboo trees form a thick canopy over trails that the tribals take to cross the forest . My friend warned me that it is also the place where lone tuskers take the most lives .

     

The lodge had two beautiful dogs – I suspect they are a mix of Great Danes and dogue de Bordeaux. They were quite friendly and partially filled the void of leaving my own three fur kids back in U.S. 

   

The road on Karnataka side of the forest is a lot wider and better maintained than the one on Tamil Nadu side . However , as I saw some idiots drive recklessly on the good roads , I started wondering whether it is such a good thing to make good roads in the forest .

I also saw a spectacular sight of four monkeys beautifully timing a jump through open windows of a moving car in front of us , and jumping back with a packet of cookies . It was even more funny to see the guy get out of car , chase the monkeys and take it back . I wonder if he actually ate those cookies after all

Ooty was great in terms of meeting old buddies and their beautiful dogs . 

   

  
The best part of driving to Ooty is negotiating the thirty six hair pin bends on the hills 

  
But it broke my heart to see tasteless construction making the sleepy old town a concrete jungle . I have been to Ooty several times – but this was the first time I remember sweating profusely there . It was hot – not the Ooty I knew growing up . I hope they rein in the development to responsible levels . Local government should also spend more attention to preserving historic buildings . It was sad to see the iconic old Spencer building near collapse . 
Just one foodie picture this time – in case you need one more reason to visit India . This is the traditional Kerala feast called Sadya , with thirty odd dishes spread across several courses . The fried “karimeen” is not part of traditional Sadya , but it’s my mom’s special dish :)

   
   

A day in TRIVANDRUM , the capital of god’s own country 


I was born and raised here – and lived here for 25 years before moving to US . I am in Trivandrum for a vacation – and loving every minute . This is the first time I have come on a vacation here without a laptop or tablet . And being unemployed , there are no work calls to attend to either . In short , it’s nothing but rest and relaxation – the type I haven’t had in as long as I remember .

The best way to start the day here is with a strong cup of coffee 

 
Today morning , I accompanied my mom to Palayam market to buy some vegetables , meat and fish . This is a place I have gone most weekends as a kid with her . The Connemara market was established by the King of Travancore about 200 years ago , and named after an erstwhile Governor of Madras Presidency. 

  
The market has not changed much in the last 40 years – except may be a couple of extra concrete structures where they sell fish now . It was fun to watch the vendors compete for my business – and the seller in me appreciated it a lot . 

  
The fish is caught daily and sold here . Prices are a lot higher than I remember from childhood . Inflation is alive and well . Just to compare – a pound of king fish is about $6 in Phoenix and it is $7 today in Trivandrum !

One thing I miss in U.S. Is the variety of bananas . There were at least 20 different kinds for me to choose from today . I just need the time to taste them all 

  

There was a butcher that my family has been buying mutton from for decades – from my grand father’s time . I was sad to hear the old man is no more , but the shop still carries his name . Of course I had to buy some . He slaughters 50 goats on a slow day apparently .

  

Chicken – well , you just choose the birds from a pen and pay . By the time you come back – they would have a packet ready for you, cut to spec . It doesn’t get any fresher than that – assuming you don’t get grossed out by seeing the process . As a kid I have slaughtered chicken many times , so this is not a problem for me . But I doubt my wife or daughter will eat the meat after seeing the process :)

 
On to veggies – it is a one stop shop . There isn’t a veritable you can’t find here . I was spoilt for choice . It was all organic when I lived here – but I am told that is not the case any more , and that there is heavy usage of pesticides . That was a bummer 

  

Palayam market interests me for another reason altogether . Facing the market is an ancient Ganapathi temple . I am not sure if there is another place in the world where this is true 

  

On one side of the temple is the oldest Mosque in Trivandrum , the Juma Masjid . It was built in the 1800s . 

  
On the opposite side of the road is the  beautiful St Joseph’s cathedral which is also from the 1800s , with its three bells imported from Belgium . Pope John Paul had conducted mass in this church when I was in high school . 

  
And sandwiched between the Mosque and the Church is the war memorial honoring the martyrs . Chandrasekaran Nair stadium seems all spruced up – I remember organizing the first Trivandrum kennel club dog show there , and watching India play Russia in soccer as a kid .

Despite vested interests trying their hardest to create a lack of trust between religions , Trivandrum has always lived in perfect harmony . Long may it continue .

On the way back, I passed by the old CSI church . Such a grand old building – probably older than the Palayam pally

  

It’s amazing that I never paused to enjoy the beauty of these buildings while I lived here . And now I can’t get enough of them . Definitely planning to venture out tomorrow and catch up the other parts of town . My resolve to spend my retirement in my hometown is all the more stronger today :)

Time to chill – with a mango milkshake , which amma made from fresh ripe mangos that a family friend sent over with a note that said “no pesticides” :)

  
It’s almost lunch time – wonder what my aunt is cooking for me .  More later – it’s a hard life :)  

Kerala has put the FUN in dysFUNctional engineering education . High time we fixed it


Kerala has 14 districts . It barely has any significant industry or agriculture any more. Outside IT and some government owned companies – there really isn’t much demand for engineers . Yet we have more than a hundred engineering colleges churning out thousands of engineering grads every year . How does this compute ?

I was born and raised in this system that put a premium on engineering education as a big accomplishment . My dad is an engineer too and the sole reason I chose mechanical engineering as my major was because my dad is a mechanical engineer . The big difference is that he is a really good engineer and I am terrible at mechanical engineering . For all intents and purposes – I should not have been a mechanical engineer . I should have studied computer science instead as that is where my talents were .  

 When my batch graduated – the top 5 students in my class got real mechanical engineering jobs . The rest of us struggled to find any job immediately . Some including me went and did our masters , some others found their calling in IT . Few others chose to start non engineering businesses . Only a few did anything relevant to engineering . And of those five top students – to the  best of my knowledge only one chose to remain in a pure engineering job . The other four moved to IT for better career prospects . 

That was in 1992 that I went to engineering college . 23 years later – nothing has changed . Plenty of mechanical engineers come out of colleges every year with supply exceeding demand by a factor of probably 100 or more . There is not any real counseling done to help students pick the right choices in college . Those that do counsel usually have no relevant experience themselves and hence lack credibility , even though their intentions are pure and noble.

It is high time supply and demand found an equilibrium in engineering education.

Quality and content of education needs a big revision – my dad and I learned more or less the same text books . The Automobile engineering I learned in college had no relation to the cars coming out into the market in the 90s. Sadly – that is still mostly the case in 2015 too . A good portion of engineering education is irrelevant or incomplete to be useful in actual work environments . I found it first hand in my first job when I could not read a complex engineering drawing of a machine quickly . Why ? Because the most complex drawing I ever did in college was of a piston or a valve . Students are not prepared for real life scenarios in engineering colleges – the onus is on first employers to teach them the basics . It is unbelievable that we send out engineers into the field without a formal apprenticeship . Will you go to a doctor who did not complete apprenticeship ?

Which brings me to teachers . When there are hundreds of new engineering colleges , how do you find teachers ? You essentially hire new college grads as teachers and let them teach subjects that they barely know themselves . It is a huge injustice to a few generations of engineering grads that they will get taught by incompetent and inexperienced teachers . Sure those teachers will gain experience over time – but the damage this practice created will not be undone for the students . Outside the top few colleges , I am not aware of teachers working closely with industry . So their chances of being exposed to latest developments and challenges in their field is minimal or non existent .

If vast majority of demand for engineers is in IT field , why can’t colleges have more IT options available ? Why continue to churn out mechanical and electrical engineers who then turn into programmers ? Why not just teach them what the market wants and needs ? By all means let’s have mechanical engineering seats available for kids who have the interest and aptitude for that . But please stop the factory model for engineering education for fields where demand is low.

There is an argument to be made that the rigor of engineering education prepares students to analyze problems better in later life . That is true and fair . However , there are other things that an engineer needs to succeed – like the ability to make a presentation , file a status report , run a team meeting , create a budget etc . Our engineering educations ignores this aspect completely and transfers the responsibility to employers to act as finishing schools . Innumerable career disasters have happened because colleges do not take care of anything more than theoretical aspects of pure engineering . 

While we learned how to use a lathe and milling machine , we never learned how to use a wrench or a screw driver to repair something . There is zero emphasis on maintenance in engineering education . And in real life , engineers spend most time in maintaining existing stuff than creating new stuff . Professors don’t know this or they don’t care – and probably because they rarely visit a real shop floor . 

It is time to hit the reset button . Incremental changes have happened and they are not sufficient to make Kerala competitive in the global economy . This needs serious disruptive thinking and execution . It needs people from several backgrounds to come together – ideally led by a combination of academics and industrial experts . Time is passing us by and if we don’t act now – it maybe too late to stop this man made disaster . Those of us who have been through the system and have seen its effects owe it to the next generation to help change the system .

Hello IBM, I am home !


Earlier today , I accepted IBM’s offer to join them as a VP & Partner in the Strategy and Business Analytics Group . My primary focus will be in helping IBM customers take their business to its next level using modern big data and analytics solutions . It is a technology agnostic role – which makes it very flexible to craft unique solutions and also makes it great fun . Maybe there is even an opportunity to partner with my old gang at MongoDB !

  
First I am off to India to visit my folks and have a nice vacation before starting at IBM . In many ways , joining IBM is like going home . For all intents and purposes – I “grew up” professionally in IBM . Almost everything I know about leadership , customer success, sales , high quality delivery  etc are all skills I picked up while at IBM . There is a lot more to learn and I am sure this second innings is going to give me an opportunity for exactly that . 

When I decided to leave MongoDB , I certainly knew that IBM would be one of the places I might find a job . I kept my options open and cast a rather wide net . I was talked out of opening a restaurant by some friends (both using data and emotions) . But that still left a bunch of questions on what size of a company , what role ( serious identity crisis having done a lot of different things at work in past ) , location and so on . It was downright confusing – and I took some of my own advice . I started calling my friends and mentors to talk this through . I can’t thank these folks enough for taking my countless calls . Some of them opened doors at places I otherwise wouldn’t have opened on my own  . They are truly my guardian angels .

Those of you that read my blog regularly know my less than gracious thoughts about the broken process of recruiting . Those thoughts are all the more amplified now in my mind . Suffice it to say – more than half the opportunities I stopped exploring happened so because of god awful recruiting processes . Eventually I shortlisted to five companies as potential employers . Four big companies and one startup . 

The recruitment process with IBM was super fast compared to what I expected . Every one from my hiring manager Jerry Kurtz to the GM of North America Lori Steele took the time to meet with me and answer my every question . It was also kind of fun that the executive recruiter Jennette was the technical recruiter a decade ago that originally recruited me into IBM . And last but not least – I owe a lot to my long time friend , mentor and former boss Ken Englund for all his encouragement and support . The extremely high quality of leadership talent that IBM has is a big reason for me to join them . 

My wife did not put any pressure to pick one offer over another . But my ten year old daughter Shreya made it crystal clear that she would like to see me back at IBM . In her first grade – she wrote this inner journal , and it is still her dream job to be a globe trotting IBM engineer. I am glad she won’t be disappointed :) . Turns out my father in law was also rooting for IBM behind the scenes – although he did not explicitly tell me so while I was going through the process . 

  
It is an exciting time for me to get started again at IBM . The company is in the middle of a significant transformation and I am excited to be part of the journey . Wish me luck !

The path to partnership in big consulting firms 


Having gone through this process successfully and in somewhat of a fast track manner , I have often been asked by several people on what does it take to make partner in a consulting firm (or principal, VP, MD or any of the other terms that are equal to a partner).  I have asked several of my seniors on their experiences of the process to prepare myself when I went through the drill myself. Given this is still the primary aspiration for many big firm consultants, and I continue to get asked about this topic a lot  – I thought I will share my personal views for what they are worth.

Warning : It is a VERY long post – and if you are not a big firm consultant considering going through the process – you will be bored to tears. Still with me ? Lets get started with how you become the top dog :)

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1. Decide if you REALLY want it 

On the good side – Partners usually make more money and have better perks than others in a firm , and have a lot of power . On the bad side – they have a really hard job (at least till they are sufficiently tenured) . Trust me – it is not as beautiful as it looks from the outside .  It takes a toll on you to make partner . Crazy work hours , extreme multi tasking , globe trotting in cramped economy seating and living with uncertainty for years all take a big toll on you . Only you can decide if it is worth the trouble for you . Think long and hard and then think some more . It takes a lot of commitment and drive to push through the process

If you want to make partner, it is 100% on you to make it work. Don’t expect your firm or your manager or your counsellor to own it. They won’t own it. They can only facilitate it to some degree. There will be hundreds of obstacles and excuses on how the deck is stacked unfavorably for you. If you constantly find yourself in that negative zone – you probably are not ready for the big job.

2. Start selling early in your career

At a minimum you need to have sold a few big multi million deals and managed a few big projects . It takes time to get the sales skill . So start really early in your career to sell – even if all you get to do at first is fetch coffee for the proposal team . Find the best sellers in your firm and watch them in action closely . Delivery skills are something hat you will pick up organically . However, Sales does not come naturally to some people (like me ). You have to work at it

Also – find out early on how credit splits work in your firm . Some times partners share credit , some times you have to split with a partner . Learn the rules before you put in the effort to sell or manage revenue . I have lost count of how many people I know of who played without knowing the rules and then ended up in extreme frustration

3. Do something useful to existing partners and get noticed

End of the day, even if you have all the sales and revenue numbers in the world – if enough number of partners don’t know about you, you will not make partner. At most big firms – you need explicit support from 15 or 20 partners for your case to go through the vote. If you try to do something useful for 15 partners one at a time linearly, you will waste a lot of time. So find out who are the powerful ones and get access to them. Contribute to their projects , ask them for advice, learn from them. If they think you add value – they will help get you the support of other partners.

There is a certain hierarchy of partners in all firms. People who are not partners do not always know this. Not all partners have the same clout. And most firms will try to give an impression to employees that they are all partners of same stature. That is NOT true. Find the ones who have tenure (in firms where tenure matters), or ones in more senior bands and build great working relationships with them.

Don’t wait till you are a senior manager to start this process. Start as soon as you decide if this partnership route is the one you want to take

4. Find three coaches and start taking their advice on next steps

a. Someone who made partner the previous cycle and remembers the drill well enough to guide you

b. Someone who has run the process as co-ordinator in the past ( partners typically take turns)

c. Someone who runs an industry or service line , or if that is not possible – then one of their direct reports

Whatever you do – try not to get one of the recent direct admit partners as one of the three coaches if you can help it. People who made partner in another firm might not know all the rules of the game you are about to play.

The key to make partner is to be part of a group that needs more new leaders. If the ERP business of your firm is declining, even if you check every box – you still might not make it through the process because the firm has no use for one more ERP partner. You should immediately move to a group where there is growth for at least next 5 years. This is critical information your coaches can tell you about. Don’t kill yourself through the grind in a group that has no future in the firm, even if it was once a darling and created a lot of partner jobs.

5. Enlist the support of some customers – ideally at CXO levels

Firms like to see positive feedback from customers. Their reason to promote you to partner is essentially in hopes that you can convince customers to buy from you. Nothing gives confidence like a customer who says good things about you. If you build good relationships with customers, then take them to a dinner or social event that one or more of existing partners are present. Make those introductions proactively – once you make partner, you will need a hundred favors from your peers to survive.

Also get some partners involved in the deals you run. Let them watch you in action and take their feedback . Your goal is to get a bunch of partners really confident that you can do work at their level, and take feedback like an adult.

6. Enlist the support of ISVs and IHVs

Consulting in IT works only if the consulting firm has excellent relationships with software and hardware vendors. Unlike with customers, it is a LOT more easy to build relationships with ISVs and IHVs. Work with them, develop a good professional relationship, get them into some of your deals . They will reciprocate and that will get the attention of the panel evaluating your case. Again – it is one of those things that takes lot of time. So start early.

7. Develop your drafting skills and keep fine tuning it

There are two things you need to be good at – writing really aggressive sales documents ( RFP responses, proposal decks etc) and really conservative contracts . Some partners coach their senior managers on these things – but not all do. Take the initiative to learn from good proposals and SOWs. This will get noticed and is one of the best ways to get the attention of partners who will then pull you into sales pursuits and projects. The one mis-step that a lot of candidates make is that they get good at drafting but fail miserably when presenting it internally or to the customer. If you need to brush up on this – join toast masters. Ideally you should be able to do a solid presentation if you have made it to senior manager. But it is not universally true. A bad presentation can reverse your chances – so please work on your presentation skills.

8. Act like a partner before you get the job

For the most part, as a senior manager or Associate partner, you are already running most of the projects and sales pursuits. Now is the time to act like a partner would. Try hard to look beyond the day to day project plan, and get into advising customers on long term topics. Find out from your peers on what they are seeing in their gigs and clue in your customers on important trends. At some point – you will start operating in a different level and you will know it. While it does sound vain – and it is vain – dress matters too. If the partners in your firm typically wear a suit to work, wear one yourself too. And start coaching your junior colleagues and help them get to your level. That is a skill you will need in plenty once you make partner. You will be a coach or counsellor to many people in future – and the firm needs to see you have that in your DNA.

The one thing you should NOT do is jerk around your team in your assumed role as partner. That would be a terrible thing to do.

9. Don’t do anything stupid or unethical

I can’t stress this enough. It should be the most obvious thing but some occasionally screw up on this front. For example – Don’t try to do a bad deal to up your sales numbers in time for your partner process. Most likely someone will find out and then you probably have shut the door on your chances for good. if someone in the panel even remotely suspects a lack of ethics or inappropriate behavior – they won’t go through with your case. No firm will risk that.

10. Now the easy part – just show up for interviews and know your lines

The easiest part of the process is the actual partnership interviews and case reviews. Panel already has opinions about you before they call you for the discussion (you have done all the hard work already). You are in good shape if you made it this far. You need to be confident ( not cocky and you should know the difference) when facing them. They need to feel that you will be a great peer. They need to see something more than they have seen in you as a senior manager. They need to see someone who thinks about the big picture, opportunities for the firm, potential pitfalls etc.  But those are all things you would have already picked up from one of your three coaches.

What if you fail to make it ?

Not everyone who starts the process ends up as a partner . You need to have a plan ready on how to deal with the rejection. Some firms only let you try two or three times at most. Get a realistic view from your coaches on whether you have a fair shot at making it next time. If there are specific things to work on – like getting more references from customers , it is manageable by the time the next cycle starts. Vague reasons like “poor communication skills” are usually red signals. You need to decide if you are happy to not make partner (you still can make a lot of money in non partner jobs, and hopefully a better work life balance). You can also decide that you want to move to another consulting company and try your luck there (all the prep work you did will help – but you will need to build a network there and that will take time). Take a break and think through it before you start the process a second time.