It is not uncommon managing 3-4 projects and working on various tasks for different clients at the same time. Our roles change from day to day, so it is hard to say what a typical week is like, because no two weeks are the same. Here is a representation of what my week could look like.
On Monday morning when I step into the office, I say, “hi” to my dear colleagues, who I have not seen in weeks. We chat, share all things happening in Asia, exchange ideas and feedback and then start working. To start my week, first thing I do is make a list of all items that need to be done for the week. Then, I prioritize and fit them between pre-scheduled tasks, such as, client meetings, client interviews, workshops or internal brainstorming sessions. From my experience, things rarely go as planned, but having a plan helps with the unexpected changes and I feel ready to start my week.
I will continue analyzing the performance of a potential client, identify the challenges they are facing and discover new opportunities that can be helpful. Sometimes, I arrange for a face-to-face meeting or conference call to consult my colleagues who have worked with a similar client in order to gather more insight and exchange ideas. Based on the analysis, I will work with the Account Manager to prepare for a meeting with the client.
In the afternoon, I might have to carry my luggage to the airport and fly to a destination, most likely in a country within Asia. I usually take some time on the flight to fine-tune and rehearse for the workshop I am going to deliver over the next two days. If I have more time, I will write or respond to a few e-mails on the plane. If not, I will connect to the internet after landing and finish up my emails. After landing, I usually take a taxi to meet my colleagues who fly in from other offices. We do a brief recap and then meet our client. This meeting is to make sure BTS provides the best experience to the workshop participants, discuss whether there is anything we can further improve on and check in to see how the client has been doing since the last engagement with BTS. During these meetings, we commonly discover more opportunities for BTS to help with. Afterwards, my colleagues and I will check into the hotel and set up the venue for the next day. Usually, the workshop will take place in the same hotel that we are stay in, so we save commute time in the morning.
BTS trusts us to be involved in every process, to contribute, to learn by actually doing and owning the work."
Tuesday and Wednesday are the delivery days. My colleagues and I will be the facilitators of the workshop and focus completely on the delivery of the program. My recent project is an IT-based simulation program that BTS has developed for a client. The purpose of the program is to help the company successfully implement the new strategy by making sure their employees (the participants) of the workshop, are able to understand the strategy, have confidence in executing the new approach and feel the urge to make changes after going back to work. Normally, my colleagues and I will get to the venue early in the morning to set up, greet all participants and host the workshop. During the workshop, we need to speak clearly and observe carefully, making sure the participants have adequate discussion time on every piece of material given to them and full participation in activities we designed for them. Participants are usually put into scenarios similar to their daily business environment and asked to come up with strategies and ideas utilizing the materials provided. Later, the participants testify on the platform BTS provides to them. As consultants and facilitators, we need to monitor the discussion and guide the participants thinking. After thorough discussion, we evaluate and comment on the decisions the participants have made as a team. When the participants take a break, we are often racing with time to gather data and information to put PowerPoint decks together and print materials. Offering our feedback is the most challenging time for us during the workshop. When giving feedback and facilitating the discussion, we link decisions and actions participants took during the simulated scenarios back to the real business setting and to current trends and events in the company and industry. This is a very exciting moment, because all of the preparation efforts BTS puts into the development of the program is providing leveraging results. It is a wonderful feeling to see first-hand how the participants appreciate the exercises and the entire experience. In return, the results and information collected help us gain better insight into the client and allow us to make further improvements. This is when we see the impact we have made on the client. It is absolutely amazing to see the participants switching their mindset, their way of thinking and even behavior in such a short period of time.
Thursday, after returning to the office, I switch myself from facilitator mode to my consultant mindset. I dig out the interview questions I drafted after digesting all the external information I compiled in order to have a general understanding of the new client we are working for. Next, I will arrange for several interviews to gather more information from the client. Usually there will be one more colleague to conduct the interview with me. We take turns asking questions and both take notes. The purpose of this interview is to verify our assumption after research and also gather more insight that we can only get internally. After the interviews, I will summarize the information, and previous research to make new assumptions; these will be valuable and critical for upcoming internal brainstorming sessions with the project development team. A project team normally consists of three core team members and a project leader. The leader is responsible for the quality of the project and usually the most experienced person on the team. During the Solution Developing Process, we work closely with and rely on the assistance of coaches, subject experts, graphic designers and word check team. To make it is more challenging and interesting, members of a project team can come from any of the eight BTS offices in Asia or other regions, which means working with different time zones and strong dependence on virtual management.
I usually save some administrative work for Friday. For example: preparing the necessary paperwork for the upcoming workshops, getting materials printed, booking airline tickets and accommodations, collecting invoices, and preparing expense reports.
Before the next week comes, I clean up all the emails I was not able to respond to while traveling. It is very important to recap on the status of my current projects in order to plan for the next week. Some clients are requesting proposals, some we have just finished the delivery and require a follow up on the results, others are just waiting for my email, and some are expecting a review meeting. It is crucial to make sure we collaborate internally and fulfill client needs proactively and on time. A development project often takes more than three months, so it is critical to follow the project plan. If I am the project lead, I make sure every team member is on track!
It may seem crazy that we are dealing with so many different assignments in one week, but it also demonstrates how BTS values a consultant like me. BTS trusts us to be involved in every process, to contribute, to learn by actually doing and owning the work. We are given the opportunity to develop professionally and personally with the constant support from senior leaders and coaches. By looking back and trying to recall what a typical week is like, I realized how much I have grown and how much I have accomplished in so many strategic projects. I still believe there is more to learn!