Exposed: How I Was Discriminated Against By a Big 4 Firm for Being Male
Growing up, I would have been considered a minority of sorts.
I’m a first-generation Australian who grew up in the working-class western suburbs of Melbourne and went to low-budget public schools.
My parents moved to this country in the 70s from Yugoslavia with little education, no grasp of English, and little money. They spent three decades doing backbreaking factory work to provide a better life for their young family.
Despite this inauspicious start, I studied hard, worked hard, and through a series of trials and errors, hustled my way into coveted gigs with the likes of EY, KPMG, and Macquarie Bank.
I then took a risk and threw it all away.
I spent the better part of a decade tirelessly building an innovation consultancy. We worked with almost 100 large brands across the globe, incubated 100 startups, and generated millions in top-line revenue. We were named one of Australia’s fastest growing new companies by the AFR in 2018. We received numerous write-ups in top-tier publications over the years. I wrote a handful of complementary books and grew our supporting podcast to over 1 million downloads.
We had, by all accounts, a great run for a small business.
As is custom to do as a business builder, I eventually sought an exit.
I pursued large management consulting firms as our first port of call.
I reached out to a big four firm’s digital team to explore a potential acquisition.
The initial response was overwhelmingly positive, with several lunches and meetings with senior partners stretching far beyond the originally allotted time.
I prepared numerous decks and a data room and had half a dozen meetings with senior partners.
The general consensus was that “we see you providing a wealth of value and thought leadership to the firm, and can help us build out our innovation practice”.
And then I received a text from one of the said partners.
“Got time for a chat?”
Naturally, I picked up the phone.