Monday, April 20, 2009

Deloitte Bound

I wanted to take a moment to discuss my employment situation. Many in the industry recognize or are aware that BearingPoint filed for Bankruptcy protection with the courts in February. Since then, the business has been chugging right along, with business as usual.

A few weeks ago, the company released an email stating that Deloitte had tendered an offer and that we would all need to wait for the court process to play out.

Well, this has played out to the point where many have already received the initial transition emails inviting us to apply to Deloitte.

Yes, I find it rather amusing that we have to resign from BearingPoint in order to obtain the exact same position from Deloitte. Especially since the BearingPoint power brokers have been pushing everyone to maintain the status quo on each project and not freak out and quit. It's the intellectual capital that makes the majority of the projects valuable. To be truthful, there have been some defectors, but I'm still hanging in there with the best of them.

There have been a lot of assurances that our positions would be preserved but mapped over to a corresponding Deloitte position. And of course, compensation would remain the same, etc.

The benefits seem to be the same or a little better depending on your view. They do not appear to support military reservists at the same level as BearingPoint (or Lockheed, SAIC or many others.) I guess Deloitte is not in the top 50 Veteran Friendly Firms like BearingPoint. Perhaps this will change?

In reality, I do not expect anything to change except the origination of my paycheck direct deposit. I hope that everything will be stable until the cooling off period. Probably in six to nine months, I expect some changes to occur once Deloitte has taken the opportunity to observe, review and critique our business, technical and delivery processes.

I am Deloitte bound next and I will report back on this once I am firmly settled.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Traveler Perk - Rental Cars

I spend each and every week traveling up to Washington DC. Occasionally, I travel out to St. Louis, but the norm is the Airbus trip from Orlando to DC.

It's no wonder then that I rack up a considerable amount of frequent flyer points, rental car gold star points and hotel points.

Well, I got rid of the hotel in January when I transitioned into a room rental in a nice area of Reston, Virginia. It's all inclusive and it saves the company about $1000.00 per month. I don't get hotel points, but I do get my own bathroom and kitchen priviledges. It is run by a corporation and I can charge it to my corporate Amex card. The owners live somewhere in Asia and I have not seen them since I rented it in January.

I made it to Marriott's Platinum Elite Status, which apparently has paid off handsomely for the few times I've had to stay in DC or in St. Louis. Marriott has provided me the keys to the presidential suite during every stay I've made in St. Louis. Unfortunately, this will end as I will not have the opportunity to stay at least 175 days in the Marriott chain this year.

I try to fly US Air because they provide nice non-stop flights and since I fly so often, I almost always get a free upgrade to first class. It's not about the drinks so much as the leg room and the ocassional company. I've sat next to the Director of Kennedy Space Center, the CIO for Lockheed Martin, Senator Mel Martinez, and a plethora of other very well known or exceptionally connected people.

I also fly next to my travel buddies. I don't want to put out names here, but I will say that I travel with the same band of people every single week. It's nice being on first name basis with these power brokers. They work for Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, CSC, KPMG, and many many smaller firms (but, hey they are still well connected and it could equate to work sometime in the future.) Who knows where this economy will blow us up to?

But what seems to be the least important has turned out to be the most important for me: the rental car.

Ever since I came onboard with BearingPoint, I have rented from Hertz. This is mainly due to the free "GOLD" membership that BearingPoint employees receive. This gets you a bus ride to your car and you don't have to scleper inside to sign papers for the rental. It's a great time saver.

Along the way, Hertz upgraded me to their Five Star Service. Unbeknowst to me however, I should have been in the President's circle. Well, it's not that hard to get into the president's circle. All you have to do is make sure they credit you all of your points. Apparently, I have not received any points in the last six months and my point tally went from about 3,000 to over 10,000 after my call to customer service.

Then, I officially became one of the President's circle. Of course, the level of service did not go up, it went down. I'm a stickler about a few things regarding my cars: They little key fob things need to work and it has to have cruise control because I drive a long way.

I have continually received garbage cars from Hertz. I have repeatedly made requests for foreign cars because all of the American cars seem to have problems. Hertz makes no guarantees, but you would think that as a "President's Circle" guy I would have some clout.

Well, after listening to my whining, I will give you something good to read. I will now provide you with a list of cars that I would buy today if I needed to based on my rental experience. At the same time, I will provide a list of cars that you NEVER want to buy.

I would buy:

1. Avalon: Outstanding car, quiet, great mileage, comfortable, same as a Lexus ES350, much cheaper.
2. Toyota Camry. Utilitarian, quiet, great mileage.
3. Toyota Corolla. Great mileage; hums along at highway speeds.
4. Mazda 6. Peppy, awesome mileage, neat features inside.
5. Toyota Matrix (same as Corolla but nice fold down seats)
6. Toyota Rav4. This was quiet, commanding on the road, plenty of power, AWESOME mileage.
7. Chevy Aveo (built by Daewoo). Small, long list of extras, great mileage. (this is the four door)
8. Honda Accord - This car is simply one of the nicest rental cars I have ever driven along with the Avalon. With the four cylinder, it gets excellent mileage. It's roomy, tracks well on the highway and has excellent design and functionality.

Cars I would buy if I couldn't afford the list above:
1. Hyundai Sonata
2. Mazda 3. Like the Mazda 6 but real noisy inside and a bit small.

Cars I would NEVER buy and neither should you:

Anything from GM. I have rented just about every GM car they offer and almost all had some type of cosmetic and physical problem.

1. Pontiac G6 cars. They are hard to see out of and burn too much gas. I have had several. The key fob did not work during the week we had really bad weather. It sucks to fight to get into the car. I received another G6 and not only did the key fob not work, but the internal door lock/unlock button did not work, so to secure the car, I had to walk around the car and manually set all the buttons to lock. Why you ask? Because the stupid car unlocks all the doors when you put it in park.

2. PT Cruiser. Nice looking but absolute garbage. It's based on a Dodge Neon. Enough said.

3. Chevrolet Malibu. This is a poorly engineered and badly designed car. Noisy and non-functional interior. This design explains why GM is where they are at today.

4. Chevrolet Impala. I've had very good luck with these cars, but I would not buy one for the price. This is much better than the Impala. Too many better built foreign cars though. For the record, Hertz gave me a Chevy Impala SS by accident. That car hauled a$$ but it also took two fillups that week.

5. Ford Mustang. Throaty roar, thirsty engine, noisy interior. Lots of fun, but still a Ford. If I thought it would last, I would consider buying one, but it seems flimsy.

6. Chevy Cobalt/HHR. The HHR is built on a Cobalt, which was the replacement for the Cavalier. The HHR is fun to drive and the Cobalt seemed reliable, but something just felt really cheap about the car and not solid.

7. I've rented a few Mercury Marquis. They are very large and hard to park in the city. If you are going to travel on the highway and carry either big people or lots of luggage, this is an ideal choice. It did not get real good mileage, but then again, I drove it like I stole it.

8. Ford Focus. Strangely enough, the last Focus I rented was superb. But this week, I got an absolute piece of work. It looked like a city car that hit every single pot hole. On top of that, the wheels singed like an 18-wheeler. It was so loud, I couldn't make phone calls and hear any of the conversation. I turned this in for another.

And that's how I'll leave it for now. At least with Rental Cars, if you are unhappy, I know that Hertz will allow you to return the car and swap it for another without any charges.

Deloitte or Bust? What is it anyway?

If we had a water cooler to huddle around to discuss the pending Deloitte acquisition of BearingPoint's public services "crown jewel" then you would probably hear things like:

1. When will it actually take place?
2. Will I get the same rate of pay?
3. Do I get to keep my laptop?
4. Blah, blah blah, ad nauseum.

I am not worried about the transfer to Deloitte as much as I am concerned with the difference in culture that exists between Deloitte and BearingPoint.

Those who have worked with BearingPoint personnel often comment about the dedication we have to our customers in addition to the serious tone that we place on work/life balance. It is one of the main themes that have differentiated BearingPoint from our competitors.

And of course, the inability to keep our financials in check; but hey, who's counting right?

Deloitte is a purely an accounting firm that has branched out into the consulting world. This is not the first time they have acquired other companies but I believe that this is the biggest move they have made in this area.

But, back to the culture shock theory. I listen to the questions being asked by many of the people in internal conference calls, and it tells me that:

1. These folks are running scared.
2. They probably have not experienced as many layoffs as I have.
3. They do not know what is around the corner and have no way to speculate or form any kind of vision.

That's too bad. Our folks will have to work very hard in the beginning to earn the trust of our new bosses. That's very simple. We need to just continue to perform in the manner in which we are accustomed to performing and there will be no issues.

On the other hand, if you KNOW you are dead wood, then I would start chopping my way out of the lair now.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

To Fly or Not to Fly?

Many people I work with wonder what it is like to fly up to Washington DC to work and then return back home. I do this each and every week.

I usually board my flight Sunday evening of each week and return home on Thursday evening late.

On Friday, at least twice per month, I will go to the SEARISC and perform my Army Reserve duty. I owe the Army two "weekends" per month. My Reserve unit is actually located in Vermont, but I've never been there. In fact, almost no one goes to Vermont. The unit members are scattered across the Eastern United States. Since the unit drills on MONDAY nights, most people find their way to a Reserve Center and perform the duty. In my case, I have no reserve center close by, so I choose to work from home.

This covers two Fridays. I also handle yard work and perform any owner repairs on my rental property.

After the work is complete, I have time to spend with my family. We usually go and eat out lunch on Saturday or dinner at Anh Hong's, a great little Vietnamese eatery at the corner of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive in the heart of Little Vietnam of Orlando.

But my real love is flying. I love to fly little Cessnas around in the sky. But as of late, I have not felt like flying too much.

Last year, instead of buying an airplane, I bought a membership in a flight club. The club provides a nice array of aircraft for a very affordable price.

I am very superstitious about my flying. If everything is not just perfect on the plane, I will not fly. If I am a little tired, I won't fly either. Also, it's getting a little old flying around by myself.

My son does not have an interest in flying, probably due to his mother telling him all about spiral crash and burns. My wife cannot fly because she gets terribly ill from motion sickness. For her, it's really bad. She actually went with me about two months ago and it took almost three days for her to get better. My daughter loves to fly, but at three years old, I am a little hesitant to take her because I cannot predict what she will do and I need to concentrate on flying the plane. Last time we went, she fell asleep within five minutes of take-off, but then my wife got sick.

I have had a few conversations with friends or associates, but have not yet set a date to go flying with any of them. I wish I had someplace to go or a reason to fly, but I am a practical individual and I do not like to waste money.

With the economy the way it is, I don't like to spend money unless it has a purpose behind it. It seems like this expensive form of entertainment may have to wait until the economy gets a little better.

Unless of course, a trip to Miami beckons for a Media Noche and a nice Cafe Con Leche.

Unbelievable or is it?

Well, it seems that the timeline to buy BearingPoint has been set. I received an email that said something about the court date and the potential closing date for Deloitte's eventual takeover of the Public Services division. Of course, this is all public record, but I am reluctant to release much here.

I have heard a lot from my friends, associates and others who are well meaning, who are encouraging us all to hang in there to see what happens. I appreciate the words of encouragement and I plan to do just that. Buckle up and hang in for the ride.

It seems unbelievable that BearingPoint is just going to dry up and blow away in the wind, but that's exactly what will happen.

After the purchase and disbursements of the saleable assets, the remainder of BearingPoint goes to the smelter. This is where the stockholders and subordinate/junior credit holders get teleported off to some distant planet where credit no longer matters.