A Typical Day of our Consultants
by Peter McMenemy
Staggering out of bed at a very early hour to catch the early bird flight allows us to get into the client offices in the UK by 9am. Working on very demanding projects is a great challenge but can sometimes also test the stamina levels. There are days when all the meetings seem to blend into one another and it is only after 5 pm when there is time to start our "real" work. On the client site the focus is always on the project and ensuring we deliver to the very high standards that our clients demand and also that we set ourselves. We operate collegial teams that aim to build close and trusted relationships with clients, however we also take the time to ensure a good team spirit on and off the project. The project team nearly always stay in the same hotel during the week and so we often try and shake off the pressures from work through our weekly rituals of playing badminton (which can be rather dangerous when you get 8 highly competitive people who all want to win) to the more relaxed cinema evenings and the sometimes very relaxed dinner and drinks night outs.
Running a major project with a team of colleagues, a very large number of project workstreams and a virtual project team of hundreds of people involves a lot of dedication and a lot of meetings! Client interactions can range from operational design reviews (identifying how to remove time, obstacles to the project progressing and controlling costs) to strategic planning sessions (to improve the future processes/products being delivered). There is no room on our projects for consultants who shy away from client interactions either, we need the blend of subject matter expertise, technical and business consulting skills with the ability to engage successfully with all levels of the client team members. Our projects tend to be reasonable long affairs, anything from 6-18 months is possible and though every project is different, there are key traits that always remain: we need to deliver on time, to budget to a very high standard that hopefully exceeds client expectations; all this usually needs to happen with less than 100% of the information that we would like, in a timeframe that is just a couple on weeks too short and with a scope that often drifts just that bit more than is comfortable. But if it were easy we wouldn't be needed!
We always encourage our consultants to strive to make a real difference to not just our client's organisations but also our own company and we are always open to new ideas about how we can make or do things better both inside and outside of the projects we run. Taking the time to really understand what will drive the most value throughout the project and coming up with creative ways to overcome every obstacle that is thrown up is a given, but what separates us is our willingness to do everything that is required to guarantee success through our ability to blend the consultant's strategic picture with the auditor's attention to every little detail. A necessary balancing act that can be difficult at times to master. What is clear to me, is that if you don't enjoy what you do on a daily basis, you will not be successful. Consultancy is certainly not for everyone but for those people that relish the challenge it can be a hugely rewarding job and one in which your successes within the team can be clearly measured and that often makes for a satisfying night's sleep.