For a managing consultant, no two days are alike. Sometimes it can even be quite hectic. Getting the kids ready for school, catching the train on time and preparing for a meeting and training session with the client along the way. Colleague Lonneke van Schaik knows all about it, and here she shows us just what a day in her life is like.
When the alarm goes off at 6:45, my kids have already been up playing for a while. I hop in the shower and think about what I’m going to wear. Something that’s appropriate for the day’s meetings, of course. I'll be leading a training session, but I have a steering committee meeting later in the day as well. After the kids are dressed, breakfast is finished and lunch boxes have been packed, next comes the daily challenge of rounding up everyone’s coats, shoes, gloves, scarves and backpacks so that we can make it to school on time. Oh, right – just need to run back inside and grab the duplicate football cards. Got to have something to trade during the break, after all!
As the school bell rings, I head across the street towards the station and buy a coffee. Fortunately, the train is on time and I manage to find a nice spot by the window. Today’s trip is over an hour, so I open my laptop and go through my e-mails in peace and quiet, occasionally looking up to enjoy the view outside. Once I arrive, it’s less than a 10-minute walk from the train station to the office of the retailer we are working for. My colleague is already there setting up all the training materials.
The 30 participants slowly trickle in and drink a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, I take a quick moment to coordinate the last few practical things with my colleague before we kick off the training session. In front of us today is a group of branch managers whom we’ll be training in a new way of working that prioritizes efficiency in terms of both costs and sales. It’s pretty exciting to see how the training will be received. This group will be part of the pilot, and after months of preparation it’s now time for the implementation to really begin.
Thankfully everyone seems to be interested and eager to find out how we can help them. They are also critical, but that shows their engagement, which is a good sign. We work through the training material smoothly and chat with the participants during the breaks. When we conclude the training at the end of the afternoon, I first take a moment to reflect with my colleague: what went well, and what can we do better next time? We agree that we have the right structure and format for the training, but think we could still do a better job of “selling” the whole package to the participants.
Then I rush off to the meeting with the steering committee. It’s for the same project, but with a completely different group of people: mostly board members. They have very tight schedules, so we have to get right down to business. After a brief progress update, we look at the biggest risks and have to decide which actions we’re going to take in order to reduce them. The project is of major strategic importance for the organization, but finding sufficient support remains a challenge. Nevertheless, we manage to make a crucial decision which will ensure that a key operational process will be centrally restructured in a way that is beneficial for all stores.
Tired but full of new ideas, I get back on the train. Even though there’s a mound of e-mails waiting in my inbox, I decide to clear my head a bit first and stare out the window for a while. It has gradually gotten dark outside, so grab I a book and read just a few chapters before I get home. My husband has picked up the kids from after-school care and they’re eating dinner together at the table. Great, all I have to do is pull up a chair!
Once the kids are in bed, it’s time to flop down on the sofa and I talk about my day with my husband. That’s it for the day: a nice glass of wine and Netflix take care of the rest!
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