Consulting 101: A Day in the Life of a Management Consultant

Back when I worked in management consulting , one of the most commons questions was always, “what does your average day look like?”.  I had drafted this in my last couple months at the firm ages and never posted so I thought it might be helpful for some people to share here!

In my experience it is very true that there is no such thing as a “typical day” when you work in consulting. My days ranged widely based on project, client, location, and stage of project. Some days I worked super reasonable 9-5ish hours, other days I worked liked crazy. Some days it was very more execution based; lots of independent work and computer time. Other days it was all meetings.

However, there was definitely some sense of routine that emerged at any given time. This routine could change massively in a few weeks but I thought it would be worth sharing what my most recent routine looked like

A Couple Notes:
– This was an out of town client so I did fly weekly to see them but it was a super short flight
– This client was very chill about time in office, they believed strongly in output ( we even helped them implement a work from home, results based policy for their employees) so my schedule here is a lot more chill than you would see other places
– At this particular time I was a change management lead for two projects at the same client. One was ramping down whereas one was ramping up so I was working on project close and start at the same time this is important to note because the start, end and middle of projects all require very different types of work

A Typical Monday

6:30- Wake up, put on clothes laid out the night before and brush teeth.
6:45- Leave house in an Uber for the airport.
7:00-Arrive at airport and breeze through security ( thank you Nexus!)
7:10- Get coffee and fill up water bottle. I typically don’t eat breakfast until at the office but if I am hungry I will grab something at the coffee shop now.
7:20- Put on makeup in airport bathroom. Probably the weirdest part of my routine but so much better than doing half asleep at home and I always prefer to get to the airport slightly earlier just in case. There has been times when the Nexus line was super long and I just ran onto the plane.
7:25- Boarding starts
7:45- Flight leaves
On the flight I usually read the news- I make sure to download some NYT articles before we leave, I also always keep a fully stocked Pocket or will listen to a podcast. I work mostly with public sector clients so it’s important to keep up with the news and I like this time uninterrupted by emails to read. Unless there is a huge meeting happening today I keep Monday morning flights as “protected time”.
9:00- Flight usually take an hour so by 9 I have disembarked and calling an Uber to the office. Often there are lots of people at the same client who take this flight so we all share a car.
The drive to the office takes around 20 minutes but can be longer with traffic. We usually catch up with each other and then jump into catching up on emails and making a game plan for the day. Occasionally I will have to jump on a call right away in which case I use Skype on my phone to dial in.

9:30- Get to office, finishing replying to emails that I didn’t get to already. Start working on new Learning Strategy document.
10:30- Status meeting. My week started every week with a status meeting with all the leads from my project. I was the Change Management Lead for this project ( a systems implementation) so I managed the communications, training and employee engagement for the roll-out. During this meeting the overall project leads would update everyone on the progress and each work-stream would provide further updates. We would talk risks and see if anything needed to be escalated.
11:30- Start reviewing training documents sent over from our offshore team- start compiling edits and any new content 
12:30- Eat lunch with team.
1:00- Work on Change Management plan ( an official client deliverable) for new project starting. This project is pretty huge, and this document goes to a lot of senior people so this is my big goal of the week.
2:30- Skype with client counterpart( he is remotely located). Get to know each out and chat about the high level plan for this new project.
3:00- Meet with new client communications lead                                                                                              3:30- That was my last official meeting of the day. I head back to our team room and will continue to work on my deliverable and respond to emails. Also chat with my managers who stops by the room on the client relationship strategy we want to have. Being in the team room also typically means helping others troubleshoot any issues they are running into, reviewing each others work etc…It is always hectic but very productive when you work out of the team room.

Also note on team rooms: this looks very different depending on your client/project. At this client we had a room to ourselves in the basement- we didn’t have individual desks but rather big shared desks and some monitors. On my last project I had my own desk in an open concept floor shared between our team and clients. Sometimes you don’t get a dedicated space and just go to client site when necessary. 

5:30pm- Catch an Uber back to the hotel around 5:30. Say hi to everyone we run into ( this hotel became our second home since this project was so long), unpack and probably do nothing for 15 minutes and then bring my butt to the gym.                                                                                                                         6:15pm- I try to use the hotel gyms whenever I can, some weeks are better than others but I typically find Mondays are a good time to go before the week becomes insane.                                                        7pm- After a quick shower I follow the same routine every single Monday night, which is walk to the mall close by to stop by their amazing grocery store and pick up food for the week. I hate eating out all the time so much so I started bringing my own Tupperware and cutlery and going to the store every week to buy salads, apples and snacks to bring for lunch. It’s nice to have some semblance of routine despite being away from home. This week I grab two huge kale salads, 4 apples, a kombucha and a dark chocolate bar. I will also typically grab something for dinner, often just eating it at the restaurant to avoid sad hotel room dinner.

8pm- I typically open my laptop again, review the days work and put the finishing touches on anything that is the topic of a meeting tomorrow. We also have an offshore team based in India that supports us with a lot of content development so I will make sure my briefs for them are good to go and send off any emails and files they need to start their day. We also often have “extra-curricular” or “side of desk” work in consulting which are non-client based things you help with. At this time I worked on our Inclusion and Diversity strategy for analysts and supported the logistics for the Change Management practice, so at this time I will do any work I have for them. Depending on the week, this part of my day can be an hour or many MANY hours.

The Rest of the Week: 

I only kept track of my Mondays but I can tell you approximately how the rest of the days differ

Tuesday- Wake up early and have a call with my team in India in my hotel room, go over the training materials, review the development plan and update trackers.Depending on how long that meeting went I either grab some breakfast at the hotel or just head straight to the office.

Tuesday is my crazy meeting day so spend most of the day in and out of meetings, sometimes listening sometimes presenting. I always have the most meetings on Tuesdays for some reason.

Wednesday- This is typically a big deliverable work day. Because its in between two crazy meeting days, we work hard to try to get everything that was discussed on Tuesday incorporated into work we can discuss Thursday. Spend lots of time on my laptop and with our consulting team putting together materials. 

Thursday-  Another early morning call with my development team. Another crazy meeting day, Thursday is also typically our big “reporting day” in the sense that I have a lot of meetings with client project sponsors and project leadership where I report our progress for big new project I am starting. Really try to make a good impression with both our team( not my immediate team) and the client team leaders so today is both a lot about prepping, presenting and recording information but also  relationship building. 

We always fly home Thursday afternoons so typically meetings wrap early afternoon. We typically try to get on the 5pm flight back to Toronto so we don’t get home to too late. I will often take my last call on the way to the airport as at this time the drive is about 30 minutes. 

Friday- Internal team meetings all morning, talk about what we did, how our projects are going and how we can help each other. Good time to do a pulse check on if we think we are meeting all the clients expectations. Lots of independent client work but also lots of meetings for our “side of desk” work which are like bonus things you do for the firm( help with recruiting, business research, supporting your practice), I honestly find Friday afternoons often my busiest time.

Hope this helped!

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