Context is that I’m in professional services, the rung right below partner. My firm is up-or-out so I have a defined timeframe to be elected partner. I thought I was up this year, but just received bitterly disappointing news that I will not be put up for partner election this year. The feedback was very vague but was something along the lines of “not seen as partner material”.
Here’s where things get a bit weird. I am not a “traditional” path in my staid, old-school profession. About 3 years ago, I started developing an interest in using big data and advanced machine learning to leapfrog some of the issues with my clients and staid processes at my firm. It’s made huge impact, but also a lot of enemies (who saw their jobs become automated and obsolete). A “rabbi” of mine who was in the room for the discussion on my case pulled me aside and told me 1) the discussion was tightly framed along a very rigid definition of partner profile that dates back to the 1980s, 2) there was a lack of understanding and in one case “outright fear” from some of the “old school” partners about what I was doing and how it would affect them.
He suggested that I drop the data and analytics stuff and just do what I am supposed to do (the “path of least resistance”) and wait 2+ years to be elected partner along the traditional path. In addition to my rabbi, I also spoke to my priest and my imam, and got their takes as well.
It looks like I have three options:
- Do what I am supposed to do. Pay my dues. Drop the technology angle. Slowly work my way up. Partner election, best case scenario is 2 years out.
- Transfer to a different division of my firm that values technology and data. Continue doing what I am great at. Partner election is still possible, but less certain. It may be 2-5 years out. And the partners from that division are regarded as “second class citizens”.
- Leave. What I am doing is quite cutting edge in my field, and I have very high confidence that others will pay handsomely for it. There are three problems with this approach: a) I really do love the firm I am at, and more importantly, the people there, b) defecting to a competitor is very poorly looked upon and I fear I will lose the relationships I’ve built over the years, and c) given the staid nature of my profession, its likely that any competitors will exhibit the same “fear of the future” roadblocks I am encountering here.