Position: Associate Consultant (2016 Graduate)
Degree: Bachelor of Commerce (Management & Finance)
University: University of Melbourne
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6.50am | Sunrise
‘Circle of Life’ starts playing full blast from my phone as I lie in bed listening in a half-dazed, sleepy confusion. Yesterday I struck upon the genius idea of starting my day with Disney’s rendition of the sunrise in the African Sahara, which I am now regretting. I eventually get up and going, rushing off to the station to catch my train, realising how distracting the Lion King soundtrack was. As part of my New Year's resolutions, I’m reducing my “screen time” with technology and instead, am devoting my morning train rides to a bit of introspection and planning for the week ahead.
8.30am | Getting my ducks in a row
First thing I do as soon as I come in every day is check my emails for any important notifications or emails from clients/directors I am currently working with. I have recently noticed that quite a few members of my team use Microsoft OneNote to organise their tasks so it’s a new thing I’ve picked up to write my own daily to-do lists that I can check off.
9.30am | Advice: adaptability
Every Monday and Wednesday we have a Financial Modelling scrum, which is a 15 minute stand-up for all the members in the group who work on financial modelling engagements. The aim of the stand-ups are to help create visibility across the group around what projects are happening, to discuss progress, and most importantly, to allow people to get involved with different projects when they have some spare capacity and would like to learn more about a certain area. As a graduate in consulting, you get to be involved in a lot of different projects across various service lines. You may not know exactly what you want to do after completing the Graduate Program, but it helps to get involved in as much as possible to maximise your exposure to working with different types of people in different environments – this makes you adaptable and helps build your soft skills which are essential when it comes to working in consulting.
10.00am | Concentrated on the client
After chatting to one of the directors about a project raised in our scrum, I quickly go upstairs to attend one of our industry sector group meetings. We have a few of these groups established in the team. The one I am going to is for Health and Care, the idea being that we use the meetings to understand and discuss strategies on how we - as the Consulting group - are looking to target clients in this industry. Today we are compiling a list of the clients and prospective clients we are looking to invite to a health focused conference that we will be running in a couple of months’ time.
11.00am | Baked goods break
Banana bread time! One of the managers in our group is an excellent baker so we often get to be the test guinea pigs for his latest batch of baked goods…mmm. Must make a tea to go with the banana bread.
12.30pm | Lunch 'n' learn
We have a brown bag lunch session in one of our presentation rooms today, which occur every few weeks and offer the chance to learn a bit more about a certain subject. Today the session is about financial modelling. We all bring our laptops and run through some of the new modelling standards that we will be adopting across the group for future modelling projects. Our facilitator shares a few key formulas that we might like to use and we try out some exercises in Microsoft Excel, using the new standards and formulas that we’ve just learnt.
1:30pm | Knuckling down
I start on some of the work I picked up earlier on in the day. In this case I’m doing a model build which involves going through the information that has been provided by the client and setting up a sheet of assumptions and inputs for my model. I talk to the project manager who gives me some guidance around what I need to consider, and offers me examples of similar models to work with. At first glance, the idea of putting numbers and creating links in a spreadsheet seems pretty tedious, but over my past few months of experience in modelling it’s actually quite a creative exercise. I really have to sit back and think about what may be the best way to breakdown costs and how certain items might affect the values of other expenses, and the nature of those relationships. As I go through, I write up a list of questions to take to the client and clarify with my manager.
2.45pm | It's business time
Time for a client meeting! This particular project involves running a strategy workshop on developing a new business plan for the client to run with for the next five years. We head into the client's office and begin discussing the current state of the business, his vision and the areas that he would like to focus on. A key part of working in consulting, and why I picked this area, is that even in the course of a single day you could be working on several very different projects in different industries, so there’s never a dull moment. This is especially good for people like me who enjoy a constant change of scenery and like to be challenged to be engaged in what they do.
5.15pm | In the hot seat
The meeting runs for longer than expected and we make it back into the office just in time to pack up. I fill out my timesheets, which logs everything I have worked on for the day, and pack up my desk. I check where I will be seated tomorrow and note that I'll be sitting next to one of my colleagues that I'm currently working closely with. We recently moved to activity-based working, which means that our seating arrangements are flexbile, encouraging us to sit where it is most suitable for us to complete our work and to work collaboratively.
5.30pm | Fun and games
Our group runs a regular social event which forms part of the ‘Consulting Games’, which is a bit of fun where the group is divided into four teams who compete to score points in various social activities. The next upcoming event is golf, and as one of the team captains, my friend is putting together an email to send out to the group about it. Us consultants are a fun, creative bunch, and as a consequence I find my friend using paint to stick the captains’ faces onto the bodies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
8.00pm | Dance class
Today is my favourite day of the week because I have my dance class, Bachata, a form of Latin dancing. Dancing is my way of unwinding and having a bit of fun during the week while catching up with friends. After class we have a social dance where anyone can come in to dance socially, which is a great way to meet new people outside of work.
10.45pm | That's a wrap
It’s been almost three hours and I’m still not sure I’ve had my dance fix (does anybody ever?), but it’s been a big day and I need to be fresh for tomorrow. Time to head home to sleep!
A Day in the Life, originally published on GradAustralia.