Logic20/20 - A day in the life of a technology consultant
After I graduated from UW with my undergrad degree, I quickly caught on to the 3 questions every person asks when they meet you for the first time:
1. What’s your name?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. So…what do you actually do day-to-day at work?
9 out of 10 times, question 2 is answered with a role or formal title that one assumes at work however this never provides the insight and understanding that people are looking for (which leads to question 3). I’m sure this is a scenario that a lot of folks—especially consultants—can relate to whether it be on the giving or receiving end.
I’ve had my fair share of misses when trying to adequately explain what it is that I do every day and the truth is, it really does change depending on what project I’m placed on and what role I’m resourced for. Currently I’m supporting one of our biggest clients, more specifically with their b2b digital marketing campaign operations and overall execution. Here’s a look at one of my typical days…
5:50 AM: Wake up and get into the office….
I like to start my days a little earlier than most folks. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting your day between 8 and 9—in fact most consultants at my firm get in around this time. However, I like to get a head start so I can be ‘full on’ and in stride by the time my client’s business is up and running. This is especially true on Mondays, as it’s the beginning of a fresh new week just waiting to be conquered!
7:00 AM – Caffeinate, caffeinate, go through inbox, and plan out the rest of the day/week
I am not a morning person. For whatever reason it takes me some time to get going (another reason why I like to begin my days a tad earlier than most) and I dislike any form of conversation prior to downing at least 20 oz. of coffee (drip or americano, no room please). As I enjoy my fresh cup of joe I go through my emails to see if I missed anything urgent over the weekend and then move on to planning out the rest of my day and week. I have a Type A personality, always have and always will. This means that I’m most effective when I have a plan lined up and I know exactly what I’ll be doing throughout the day down to the minute. I hate the thought of wasting time and I’ve found that I am much more productive when I reserve slots and timebox myself for specific tasks. This part of my day will take a little longer on Mondays as I’m planning for the whole week at a high level as well (see, Type A).
9:00 AM – Internal Consulting Team Meeting
I’m part of a larger team (~20 consultants) that supports the Marketing Operations arm of our customer, which supports their B2B business. This large team consists of 5 smaller teams and each team lead participates in a Monday standup where we spend time sharing our priorities for the week, surface any issues or blockers, and collaboratively brainstorm on how to continually improve and grow our team.
10:00 AM – Client Team Meeting
I have a similar meeting with my smaller client team which involves key stakeholders that are full time employees. We share what we’ll be working on that week, communicate any dependencies or key deadlines, and highlight any issues or blockers. We are currently knee-deep into campaign planning and have a launch date set which means little margin for wasted days. Marketing campaigns in the B2B space involve several different teams and moving pieces so it’s a challenge getting everyone aligned and on the same page in terms of marketing tactics, goals, desired outcomes, and execution methods.
This meeting is much more tactical and specific than the previous one with my internal consulting team and often turns into workshops where different team members can fill in different gaps. It’s much more deliverables-focused and involves granular tasks vs. strategic big picture topics.
11:00 AM – Grind time
Now that I’m caffeinated and have connected with all internal/external team members and stakeholders, I can now spend time doing actual work (something that is counterintuitively hard to come by as a consultant)! I’ll typically go hide in a conference room and dedicate the next few hours to pure execution and work time. This is where I enter ‘the zone’ and prefer not to be disturbed (if possible) until I crank out the deliverables at hand. For this project my most common deliverables include PowerPoint presentations (commonly called ‘decks’ in the consulting world) which I’ll need to present later in the week, documents that capture marketing campaign goals/requirements, and reporting files such as Excel or Power BI. My job is to project manage the entire campaign which means I am held responsible for all communications, processes, hand-offs, and overall marketing operations.
I lean on my deliverables to communicate the right information to the right people at the right level. The stakeholder ecosystem is so vast and diverse I’m finding that I need to tweak the tone and lens of my presentations and communication based upon the audience. Technical folks like to get into the X’s and O’s, whereas Marketers and more business-minded folks are geared more towards performance, metrics, and outcome.
1:00 PM – Tactical Campaign Meetings and lunch if I haven’t had it yet…
Once I’m at a good place with my deliverables and execution time, I rush over to meetings that I have with marketing campaign stakeholders. As digital marketing campaigns increase in complexity, our team works to connect all the dots and facilitate the process. This allows the marketer to focus more on the strategy and adjusting/iterating the campaign. I use this time to address questions and remove blockers from all the involved teams. Maybe the reporting team didn’t get insights into an important outcome, or maybe new content was added but it needs to map into user flow with the right tagging for reporting and personalization. These scenarios need to be handled quickly and efficiently to mitigate any risk to the campaign launch date. Our client is a global company, so any decision or tactic needs to be assessed on a global scale. In between meetings, I find a quick minute to grab a bite for lunch.
3:30 PM – Review, assess, and improve processes
I’m typically so busy throughout the day with meetings and delivery, that I miss out on big picture strategy and process optimization unless I carve out and dedicate time for it. Our customer is in the midst of developing best practices for integrated digital marketing campaigns, and I have first-hand knowledge of pain points and inefficiencies because I’m in the trenches managing a few. With this perspective in mind, I need to standardize and improve the way our customer runs these campaigns, knowing that they’ll continue to rely on them for corporate growth.
I look back at processes and marketing tactics that I think will be common and core to the majority of campaigns going forward. I then identify key teams involved, associated tasks, any areas of improvement or bottle necks, dependencies, and more in order to streamline and speed up the process from idea inception to going live in market. The idea is to standardize and operationalize these large efforts into robust processes so that they are easily repeatable.
4:30 PM – Final review and light planning for the next day
I typically start wrapping up my day around 4:30PM and perform one last review of my inbox and deliverables so that I can go to bed stress-free. I also spend time scheduling any meetings for the next day and do some light planning so that I don’t have to plan from scratch the next morning (see, Type A personality ?). I typically head straight to the gym after work and then unwind at home for the next day.
As you probably pieced together, it’s very important that I make the most out of my time and that I stay extremely organized and punctual. Every minute I go over in meetings means lost time for actual work and execution. It’s a challenge balancing everything, but once you work out and develop that muscle, it eventually becomes second nature.
The life of a consultant is busy, fast paced, and intense, which means its not for everyone. However, if you’re someone who enjoys learning new skills, being challenged, are eager to grow, and would like exposure to multiple industries then I highly recommend this career path!
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