Reflections on CGI

I originally wrote this article about my now former employer, CGI Solutions and Technologies, back in January 2014 when I was lamenting what appeared to be the apparent demise of the company which I had originally joined in late 2011.  Unbeknownst to me at that time, I was to be made redundant a few months later in May – last week in fact.

The thoughts and feelings I had at the time I originally wrote the article below – just after the Christmas/New Year period – were sincere and well intentioned, so rather than let them disappear into the ether, I’ve decided to publish those thoughts anyway, in the aftermath of my recent redundancy.

Note that the following will be, as originally written, in the current tense rather than past tense.

Draft: January 2014

The holiday season has always historically been a time for reflection and planning for me.  It’s the rare time of the year when projects and work tend to simmer down as society generally slows over the shutdown period.  This year was slightly different in that we were moving into a new property, so my world was slightly more chaotic than usual.

Despite the changes, I still had time to reflect upon 2013 and began to consider my options for 2014.

The company I work for, CGI Group (Australia), has undertaken a significant transition having acquired another larger company, Logica, in late 2012.  I suppose that the decision to buy Logica was a good one – it certainly bolstered the stock price – however, I think it has been rather disastrous for my local Business Unit (BU) in Australia.

When I originally joined CGI (Australia) in November 2011, I was somewhat astounded by the number of long term employees – particularly the ones who were consultants – which was most of them.  It’s pretty rare to find consultants who have served more than a few years with a single consultancy, since the nature of the job tends to put skilled people in contact with firms who are in a position to make attractive offers to hire them away from the consultancy (sometimes even when this is in conflict with legal safeguards).

Even without the chance of clients nabbing top consulting talent, if a consultancy only has a small group of clients  the top talent could get bored and decide to move on for better challenges or better money.  Some consultants leave because they don’t like the ebb and flow of work – i.e. not being comfortable with the occasional spell on “the bench” – i.e. not being utilized.

So having said all that, it was an unexpected shock and (pleasant) surprise to see a long list of tenured consultants at CGI.  However, all things must change?

Last year saw the integration of former Logica personnel, and the transition hasn’t exactly been smooth.  The Australian BU has swelled from around 120 people to over 600, and the merging of systems has been, in a word, difficult.

The culture of the company in Australia has certainly changed, and some management initiatives have seen the introduction of a number of unpopular changes in business practices.  The company doesn’t have that “family feel” anymore, as employees are increasingly being treated as numbers.  Long serving staff have been treated poorly, and loyalty doesn’t seem to be a valued currency anymore.

It has also been very hit-and-miss from a work perspective.  My regional branch of the Business Unit went over nine months without any business development personnel – with only enough staff to maintain existing clients.  As a result, our ‘pipeline’ of potential and future work has dried up to nothing.

I’m left wondering what will come next.

I honestly don’t like the mercenary style of working – changing companies on a routine basis – because I’d prefer to invest my time and effort with a solid technical team of consultants over a long period of time (strength in numbers).

The people I’ve worked with over the past two plus years have generally been of a high caliber both personally and professionally.  The management at the local level has been outstanding and I feel a strong sense of loyalty and belonging here, in spite of the recent changes at the broader BU level.

However, I have a professional and personal revulsion to most of the changes which are occurring at the national level.  The decisions being made and the changes to some of our performance metrics and other aspects of employment are no more or less better than any other consultancy.  Add to that the lack of project work…  and the question must be asked: how long does one wait until they consider looking at other opportunities?

To quote “The Clash” – Should I stay or should I go?

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