Is working for big corporations better than small companies?

All my professional working experience has been evolved around big multi-national companies. Prior to working full-time, I was exposed non-profit organizations and also small companies on Wall Street, New York.

After being exposed to different working environment, personally without a doubt working for big corporations is preferable for several reasons. There are other cons too, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Obviously not everyone can and will have the opportunity to work for big corporations. If given the chances, I would highly recommend that you take “going” big route. In this blog I will list some of the pros of working for big corporations. My next blog fill focus on the cons.

If you read my previous post, I was lucky enough to be hired by Arthur Andersen. You may not heard of this company because it is no longer in business after the Enron crisis. Arthur Andersen was one of the big 5 public accounting firm up until early 2000.

After leaving Arthur Andersen I moved to Citigroup and remained there for 12 years. Finally, I’ve landed a senior manager position at HSBC, one of the biggest banks in Asia.

Exposure

Big corporations allows exposures at all level. Big companies are like well oiled machine and the require all cogs and wheels to turn at the same time. The opportunity is limitless if you put in the work. Work means getting things done 110% and do it above and beyond what is asked of you. Once you are recognized for your work, you will be recognized by all level of management.

Movement within Organization

Companies today, like HSBC, care about its employees well being. They care because studies find that it is cheaper to retain “A” employees than continue to hire entry-level employees. Hence, to ensure employees are happy some companies allow movement within the organizations. HSBC is a UK-based company and it my tenure at the bank, I’ve known several colleagues moved from UK to US, and from US to Hong Kong. Movement within the US is also encouraged.

Higher Salary

Most big corporations do pay better than small companies. Not only because they have the means to afford high salary, it is the same reason as above to retain “A” employees. Of course this also depends what department or business you are in within the corporation. Taking HSBC as an example, employees who are in the investment bank will probably pay higher than employees in Human Resources. As an example, my salary (including bonus) increased by 700% when compared to my salary at Arthur Andersen 21 years ago.

Recognition and Achievement

Working in a big corporation is great but it is important to keep your personal goals in check. Are you happy in what you are doing? Are you being recognized for the work you have done? The answer is quite simple if you want to achieve your personal goals: work smart, not work hard. If you work hard, sooner or later you are going to burnt out. Work smart includes how do you do things better and more effective. Companies recognize employees who are able to do things more effective at a shorter time frame.

Fringe Benefits

Big corporations continue to provide health care and other benefits to their employees. Depends on the industry, things are not what is used to be. Prior to the financial collapse in 1998, big banks would give all kinds of benefits to their employees. Today things are very different as a lot of the banks trying to cut costs. Citigroup stopped investing in pensions for its employees after 1998. We no longer had free lunch during training sessions and employees are absorbing more healthcare costs as health insurance costs starting to spiral out of control. Some companies such as Google, Facebook or other “hot” tech companies continue to provide their employees a log of fringe benefits that most small companies are not able to.

If you disagree any of my points above, I would like to hear them. Feel free to comment.

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