New York, NY
Incandescent is discovering how to create, build, and run enterprises to do the world’s most important work. Our firm spans three domains: advisory, venture, and research.
We advise top leadership of large enterprises on strategy, organization and innovation. A major part of our practice focuses on systems change, working in partnership with philanthropy and leading non-profit organizations. We are partners to founders, growing ideas into businesses that scale and endure, taking equity positions in these ventures. We invest significantly in fundamental, conceptual research to support our work, and treat our work as a laboratory for the development of ideas.
We orient ourselves as thought partners and catalysts, rather than specialized experts; focus on the larger journey more than the discrete project; and work in smaller teams with team members at all levels inhabiting roles that engage with senior clients.
Focus of the Role
Engagement leaders are the day-to-day owners of work on the high-stakes questions that range from developing the corporate strategic plan for a Fortune 500 to helping a company transform its culture. Incandescent is much flatter than a traditional consulting hierarchy, and we think about team structures in a flexible, bespoke way. Inside a principled, unwavering commitment to the long term, we encourage team members at all levels to contribute to developing lasting relationships with clients and creating new opportunities for the firm. We think about our objectives as broader than simply maximizing the performance of Incandescent as a business. We hold four fundamental commitments–Discovery, Impact, Community and Economic Value–and at different times make trade-offs to give these distinct commitments the weight they need.
We are looking for candidates who will take ownership of important relationships and objectives, and at the same time will be active citizens of the firm, contributing beyond areas of direct responsibility. Successful candidates at the engagement leader level could come from a range of backgrounds, with experiences that demonstrate their ability to drive strategic thinking in the “white space” of difficult, ambiguous, “whole-enterprise” problems; bring together multiple disciplines, reaching beyond their own areas of specialized expertise; lead teams; and navigate complex stakeholder environments, building organizational support for important decisions and driving change. Most hires into this role will have had prior strategy consulting experience; those who have not worked in a consulting firm will have engaged in similar kinds of work in a different environment, for instance inside a large enterprise or in rapidly-growing start-ups. While we do not privilege any specific academic background, an engagement leader should have mastered a range of “MBA-like” skills and mental models, although not necessarily with particular focus on financial analysis.
Our People and Culture
Senior members of the firm lead by example and take the time to teach in a way that embodies, nurtures and develops the attributes we look for in all our team members:
Conceptual thinking: the capacity to see high-level patterns and principles and the ability to translate concepts into concrete decisions and action
Empathy: the capacity to imagine how the world looks to others and to build bonds of trust even in difficult circumstances
Discipline: consistent follow-through and the capacity to translate intentions and decisions into sustained actions and results
Drive to learn: intense curiosity, a commitment to honest self-examination and open feedback, a willingness to take risks
Intentionality: thoughtful and deliberate about each aspect of one’s work; commitment to make each detail express the broader vision
Incandescent is a demanding environment, wonderful for people who are built in this specific way, and not for anyone who isn’t ready to be stretched to his or her limits on these dimensions. When we notice something isn’t working as well as it ought to, we work to understand root causes and to push through to implications.
We don’t have a defined title system and career ladder like traditional consulting firms. Similarly, our business model is not parallel to the large consulting firms and we are not attempting to create a parallel compensation model. We’ve written about in this piece on What Does Becoming More Senior Really Mean?, offering a vivid window into how we think about development and why we’ve designed around structural flexibility in this way.
Why the Role is Compelling
At the engagement leader career stage, a role with Incandescent is likely to feel particularly compelling to an individual with one or more of five profiles:
A person who loves the work of being an advisor, and is drawn to an environment that will provide a supportive context for this development, without the up-or-out pressure or the hard-edged commercial focus that comes with the path to partner in the big firms.
A deep thinker who values the ability to develop themselves as a thought leader. We invest dramatically more time than traditional consulting firms in drawing conceptual insights from our work with clients, offering an intellectual home akin to that of a business school faculty.
An entrepreneurial individual, who values the ability to work across stages, combining work with large enterprises with the ability to play a role in developing and building businesses from the ground up.
An individual who deeply values social impact, who is attracted by the ability to work both in the private sector and the social sector and to draw connections between the two.
An individual who is excited over time to develop a practice in a particular industry domain. We engage with large enterprises and early-stage ventures, and with for-profit and nonprofit organizations. While we do not organize by practice area, we could imagine somebody with entrepreneurial vision and excitement about specific domains might “major” in deeping our work in one of these spaces.