Dangers and rewards in the Fortune 50

A Fortune 50 Executive said it was one of the more difficult times of his life.  He was in charge of identifying 2000 MBA’s in their organization who would receive layoff notices in December.  These were dedicated workers from top schools who were earning fat salaries.  They were putting in long hours on important projects, sure their futures were secure.  Just before Christmas they would get their pink slips.  Their lives would shatter.

Of course he had been on that same track and made it past middle management.  He was actually going to be well rewarded that year.  He was dramatically cutting costs.  His bonus was tied to how heavily he slashed employees.  It was tough, but every person fired was a little more gravy for him. He was earning more than he could have at any mid-sized company.

The rewards are great, but so are the risks in the Fortune 50.

Most of those huge companies are divided up into groups and divisions so that they run a lot like a mid-sized company with strong financial backing.  That does provide stability and a chance to be part of a high risk/high reward project.  However, all that strong financial backing can disappear when 3/4ths of the company has a bad year.  Then out come the knives.  The most profitable divisions also have job cuts at those times.

Just last month I was talking with my son about the Fortune 50 company he is working for that is cutting folks at a division with a 50% profit margin and high growth rate.  Sometimes it seems odd.  There is always a good reason somewhere when they do something like that.

Is it better to work for a mid-sized or small company?  No one knows.  That’s because no one knows the future.  I’m sure that at least half of those 2000 MBA’s went to mid-sized and small companies after they were cut loose.  Their experience and education got them all new jobs within 6 months or a year.

When you get a chance to work for a huge company, remember the risks as well as the rewards.  There is no free ride.  Reward and risk always go together. Don’t forget the rewards of experience as well as the money, or the risks that come with being part of an organization where you are an expendable replaceable cog.

Something to do today

Look at your own job stability.  How subject are you to layoffs not related to your area’s performance?


Coming up

Scrabble and muck and get ahead

When to give up and go elsewhere


And a final thought about the same question and the government

You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly too.  (John Kenneth Galbraith)

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