Consultant - San Francisco

I’m a consultant at BTS focused mostly on leadership development for technology companies, but I’ve worked on projects across different industries too. My passion is in helping clients learn how to be their most impactful and effective selves through leadership development and strategy alignment.

Prior to BTS, I majored in neuroscience and psychology with a minor in leadership. Immediately post-undergrad, I studied cross-sector leadership with the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. When I started searching for jobs after Coro, I realized my main criteria were:

  • Frequent change – New projects, industries, types of work, so I wouldn’t get bored or stuck in a rut.
  • Creativity and innovation – Wanted to be at a place where I could brainstorm new ways of approaching problems and be creative.
  • Team-based work – I get really bored working all day on my computer screen. I wanted my work to be social and team oriented.
  • Growth – I want to work in an environment where I am continually growing and developing, and the people around me are invested in my development.
I didn’t realize at the time what a great fit this company and these people would be for me."

BTS fit all of these criteria perfectly. I didn’t realize at the time what a great fit this company and these people would be for me, but a few months after I joined, it hit me. To be surrounded by people that care about supporting me and my career, doing work that makes a difference in peoples’ lives, and continually growing and learning. Wow. I feel really lucky to be here.

Week in the Life of a BTS Consultant

Every day is different at BTS and there is no “typical” day or week here. But I was frustrated when trying to visualize my daily life at BTS, as people kept saying each day was different. So below is my best attempt to capture a sample week in the life of a Consultant at BTS.

Monday – Kicking Off a New Development Project

Today, I’m beginning a new project with a software company. They have asked us to create a practical, relevant, and customized leadership training program for their first level leaders. To start this project, the BTS team of about 3-4 people has an internal kick-off meeting, usually about an hour long. We talk about what we know about the client so far, any obstacles we anticipate on the project, and the timeline moving forward. We also discuss our personal and professional goals on this project, and how we want to support each other to reach these goals. I love that we are invested in each other’s growth from the beginning.

Now it’s time to begin our interview process. For this program, we are going to interview 25 first-level leaders, to understand what behaviors differentiate a great leader at this company from an average one. I’m not the project leader (PL) here, but the PL has asked me to lead the first interview so I can learn. We practice a few times and I have a document with our key questions, but after that, it’s time for the heart-thudding moment where I’m talking with the client for the next hour, uncovering their perspectives. I have to think on my feet, come up with follow-up questions, summarize what I’m hearing, and move the conversation forward. After the interview, the PL and I debrief how it went, what I did well, and skills I can try on the next interview.

It’s towards the afternoon now, and the team has finished seven interviews. It’s time to start summarizing the content. The team and I are in a conference room, writing up on the whiteboard key themes we heard, and any surprising insights we’ve uncovered. This will help us tailor our next few interviews. After all these interviews are done in the next week, we’ll boil what we heard down into a few key learning points and then design an experience to achieve those learning goals. This process involves the team spending a couple days around a whiteboard, ideating and brainstorming different experiences we could make. This is one of my favorite parts, because I get to be creative and come up with innovative ways to teach the content.

Tuesday – Thursday – A Delivery

Today I’m at a delivery for a data analytics company. A “delivery” means that I am facilitating a program, walking 30 or so executives through the experience we designed for them. This delivery is local (Mountain View), but sometimes I get to travel to interesting places to do a delivery. In the past 6 months, I’ve gotten to go to Shanghai, Barcelona, and London. Travel is important to me, and I love to spend a few days before or after the delivery exploring the city.

The morning starts early – usually around 7 or 7:30, so I can get to the room and make sure everything is set up before the participants get there (Projector? Check. Sound? Check. Supplies? Check.) The participants start trickling in around 8 and I introduce myself, explaining that I work for BTS and I’ll be the facilitator for the next few days. These participants are directors at the data and analytics company, around 40-50 years old. Sometimes the participants look at me strangely, because I am so young, but I’ve practiced and researched a lot for this delivery and this helps me gain credibility.

Next, I introduce a business simulation to the participants where they will be running their company for three years into the future. The goal is to provide a forum for the participants to practice allocating resources, understanding trade-offs, and communicating their strategy. By the end of the session, we hope they are more aligned as a company. In this case, the participants have a virtual simulation, so they are at tables of five, making decisions about their priorities and how to allocate limited resources. Business simulations are a bit like monopoly on steroids, and it brings out participants’ inner playfulness and competitiveness.

I feel satisfied that we actually made a difference to the participants."

While the participants are working with their teams, I go around and help them as needed, coach them, ask questions to get them thinking more deeply. After their first simulated year, I’ll explain to them how they’ve done, who’s in the lead, and some tips on their strategies. This is the most nerve-wracking part for me, because I present topics like feature consumption gap and average revenue per customer. With my background in neuroscience and psychology, these business and finance terms are still new to me but I’m learning.

The day wraps up around 5pm, but then the participants have a dinner planned. I usually go with them, so I can get to know the participants and learn more about their business. Eventually, the post-delivery dinners will become a valuable chance for me to discover more ways BTS can help this company, but for now, it’s about the networking.

Deliveries are exhilarating, exhausting, and rewarding all at once. Leaving the delivery on Thursday, I feel tired from socializing and leading people for two days, but I also feel satisfied that we actually made a difference to the participants. I really believe that the experiences we design make people better leaders, and that feeling makes it all worthwhile to me.

Friday – Wrap Up & Design Work

Today I return back to the San Francisco office. I may choose to work from home today if I’m tired, or I can go into the office. I usually chose to go into the office though because I love being around my coworkers (plus the coffee and snacks are way better than what I have at home).

I get into the office around 9 or 9:15 and make myself a latte before settling in to catch up on my emails. I’ve been focused on my delivery the past few days and got a bit behind on those emails. I respond to a client that needs a certain document, my project leader who is giving me feedback on work I did, and our digital team on a virtual leadership experience we’re creating.

Around noon, fellow BTS-ers will wander over to my desk and ask where I want to go for lunch. Usually people go get lunch and bring it back to the office to eat together. I really appreciate that people take time out to eat together each day – it makes me feel part of a community.

In the afternoon, I’ll start to write out the case study for another project I’m on. In general, I juggle 2-4 projects at once. This is exciting because it means I can switch focus anytime I get bored, but it also means I need to have strong time management skills. I’m learning tricks on how to make my time more efficient, like closing my emails down for a few hours or blocking out large chunks of time for design work.

Now it is design work time and I’m at my standing desk, writing the case study for a Challenges & Choices simulation. In this simulation, participants will act as the manager for a simulated team, and they will have to respond to daily challenges from their simulated team. Based on feedback from the client, I choose a solutions management team and start writing the characters. There’s Piper, the young ambitious millennial, and Boris, the analytical methodical one, and Sawyer, the arrogant genius. These characters and case study will become the background for discussions participants have about leadership and managing people well. Writing the characters and case study are one of my favorite parts of my work, because it’s like writing a choose-your-own adventure story. Before joining BTS, I was a bit worried that at a business consulting firm, I wouldn’t have enough chances to use my creative side. That turned out not to be true at all – I spend a lot of time ideating and creating here.

My day ends around 5:30 or 6 and then maybe I’ll go to a happy hour with my coworkers. The team is ready to unwind from the week, and I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone. It’s been a big week!

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