Let's begin with the fact that this isn't a traditional consulting firm. It is hard to define what would be.
What we do is bring an outsider's point of view to support, reinforce or accelerate the execution of a business' strategy.
We are a medium size firm, less than 400 globally, supporting very large firms across very diverse industries. We tend to be generalists until we become specialists in certain industries or functions. Because of our size (and potentially the fact that we are Swedish), our exposure is a lot wider, and very fast. You have the opportunity to build your own brand and your own growth and career path, work with great people and constantly learn new things. We begin as resources within projects, supporting an Account Manager for a client, but we are also all working on multiple projects at the same time. Accordingly, even before I might be managing a relationship with a client, I am already quickly exposed to managing multiple tasks, personalities and my own time. We specialize in experiential learning, and we actually end up learning by doing most of the time as well.
On a regular day, there are three main buckets of activities that I might be doing, or a combination of them all: I might be at a client site facilitating a program for a group of executives, researching and designing the next experience we will develop for a new group, or managing projects, accounts, clients and my time.
In the end, no two days are ever the same, be it the project you’re working on, the people you’re interacting with, or the location you are doing this in. People say 'time flies when you’re having fun'"
Facilitating a program is the most exciting and immediately gratifying. It usually involves traveling to a client site or an exciting offsite location, sometimes on my own or with a team of colleagues. I will take a flight early in the week, stay at a nice hotel, dine out daily, and meet new people. It will also involve very long days, starting very early setting up the stage for a program before a traditional workday begins, facilitating the program during normal hours, and preparing for the next day as the night takes over. If planned well, I’ll also manage to sneak in a workout and even some sightseeing. The trip might last a day or up to a week. The program will involve taking a group of industry veterans through a new experience, potentially a simulation in which they will be playing a "game". Picture a team of adults putting on the hat of the CEO of a company that might resemble their own, competing against each other to see who is able to drive the best business results. I will coach them through the different modules; explain to them how their decisions impact the results they achieved, and help them connect these decisions back to the reality of their actual business. They are still the experts on their business, but I will have helped them see their business from a different point of view, as well as understand the interrelationships of their own role with the rest of the organization, empathize with other areas of the business they might've not understood before, and walk out with some new insights which will help them in their decision making going forward. They will also have had more fun than they might've had in years.
After the program, I’ll fly back home and head to the office the following morning. Back in the office I will probably be working with a different team of colleagues on the research and development of a new project. The project will involve interviewing executives in a different area of the same company or maybe a completely new client and industry. I will get to ask these leaders questions about their roles and goals, trying to gain insights into their business, and understand where the biggest challenges are for them to be able to execute on their current strategy. They might've come up with this new plan on their own, or potentially a different consulting firm (a more traditional one) had performed an assessment and told them what needed to be done. We are now going to help them understand how to make it happen. After the interviews, my colleagues and I get to create the next simulation. We will try to bring to life the recurring challenges the company is facing. I will come up with a business case, a simulated market, the companies within it, and the challenges that they will face, based on the research that we'll have obtained from the interviews and the industry analysis. It will eventually look like our very own Monopoly game or SimCity, but better. It might take a few weeks or sometimes months. It is challenging, because I won't know how impactful it will be until the work is done.
The best part will be getting on the next flight to arrive to a new location, and take the first group of people, sometimes 30 or maybe 1000 at a time, through the experience we just built. Again, they are still the experts, but after living their job for a decade or more, it'll have been the experience we built that will help them discover something new. Here I get to see the impact of what we spent months building. I'll hear them say "this is so familiar" and watch them struggle with the decision, and make a completely different choice from their colleague in the same field. Then we'll have a discussion around it, and we'll all walk out with a broader perspective, potentially a different answer, going forward.
The days running these programs are the longest, while building the solutions might be relatively more traditional. The rest of the time I’ll spend managing the different tasks or projects that might be on my plate. This is the double edged sword. The reason why I chose consulting and specifically this firm to practice it was the diversity of projects and opportunities that it exposes me to. Being able to multitask, and switch hats between teams, roles and responsibilities is a constant challenge, but is also the biggest learning opportunity. I get to work with different sets of people, both internally and externally, of all ages, functions and levels of expertise, and I give to and take from all of them. As an individual I am responsible for handling my calendar; as a project manager, I need to coordinate this calendar and a team of people on milestones to complete the solution we might be working on while we are all responsible for multiple other projects as well; and as an account manager I am additionally responsible for ensuring that my clients are not only satisfied with the solution we deliver, but are getting the support they need before, during and after to ensure that the experience is not just fun, but actually continues bringing results to their business after.
In the end, no two days are ever the same, be it the project you’re working on, the people you’re interacting with, or the location you are doing this in. People say “time flies when you’re having fun”, and it definitely flies here. It is hard to tell what a typical week is like. One thing it is not is boring.