Written by John Greenhough, an Associate Consultant at Accenture‘s London office. Prior to joining Accenture, John graduated from Edinburgh University with a M.A. degree in History in 2001.
10:30 am. The plus side of signing up for evening shifts is that I can come in a bit later which on a Monday is always very welcome. I work for Accenture and am currently based in south London, working on a project for one of the largest UK food retailers. The contract we have will last for a number of years. I am currently working on one of their most high profile projects involving the deployment of RePos (Replatforming Electronic Point of Sale) and new Desktop 4 PCs, a network upgrade, a new Infrastructure server and Customer Contact Management System into all of their 469 stores. The project started in June 2002 and will run to the end of July 2003. I joined in October 2002 and I am responsible for the allocation of new Desktop 4 PCs and printers.
In the morning the first thing I will usually do is spend half an hour reading, answering and sorting my emails. I have two separate email accounts – one is used for store specific correspondence and the other is used for my general business admin. My email accounts will be open and checked throughout the day as it is usually my first method of contacting store personnel. Sometimes replying and chasing emails can take up the majority of the day; sometimes I barely have a chance to glance over them. Every day is dramatically different, which can be hectic but is the main reason why I looked for a career in consulting.
11:00 am to 12:00 pm. At the moment we are deploying the new system to eighteen stores every week, so I need to make sure that each of the stores have agreed to their allocation of PCs and printers. Every Thursday there is a deadline to send our contractors a list of the computers they need to build for each store. Attention to detail is critical as each store has different requirements. Sometimes the work can be quite monotonous so I will try and break it up with some of my other responsibilities; including managing the revisits that certain stores require and overseeing the refurbishment and disposal of old kit that is removed from the stores when we convert them to this new system. The phone is always ringing with store personnel and our third party vendors wanting updates and raising issues.
12:00 to 12:30pm. Lunch time! One of the great things about working for a large company and a big project is the number of people you meet, so there is always someone to catch up with over lunch. I actually work opposite a girl who also read History at Edinburgh University but we had never met before. There are eight other Analysts working together on this project who are all a similar age and graduated in the same year from university. Often I’ll grab a sandwich and take it back to my desk. No-one is watching you clocking in your hours and it still surprises but impresses me how much we are left to manage our own time and responsibilities. Every two weeks I provide a status report to my immediate supervisor so she knows where I am and what I’m doing.
12:30 to 1:00 pm. I have a meeting with one of the Consultants on the team to discuss the problems we have been having with the disposal of kit from conversions. We have decided to go and meet our main contact at the warehouse in an attempt to improve relations and thus get faster results. This will mean going to Essex first thing Thursday morning and I have been asked to organise the meeting, take minutes and as preparation familiarise myself with the contract that was signed so that I’m up to date.
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. If I have not yet had a reply from my morning emails, I will chase them with a call to make sure they are being actioned. Experience has taught me that it is better to be polite and pushy in order to get results – the store personnel have a million and one things to do every day and are often grateful for the reminder. When a store’s allocation has been agreed, there are a number of processes I have to follow to ensure that each store is tracked correctly and the correct information is entered in our database. I’ll usually have quite an extensive ‘to do’ list on the go which often includes chasing up issues from the overnight conversions and preparing and updating documentation on what I’ve been doing.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Coffee, check my email, chocolate! Read through the contract I had been given after lunch and try and get approval for holiday in June from my supervisor.
4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Mission Control shift. Mission Control manages the technical deployment of the conversions and is a single point of contact for the engineers on site who will call in with updates, queries and issues. Before Christmas, I was working an overnight once every two weeks but now we have been asked to cover a day shift every week and one weekend day shift every two weeks. Shift times vary from 6am to 4pm to the more preferable 4pm to 8pm. We are allowed to take time off in lieu so it is up to us to manage and organize our work hours; sometimes I’ll come in late, leave early or get approval for a day off. The hours can be frustrating but working in Mission Control certainly adds diversity to my role – I miss the rush hour as I go home and if I’ve had a bad day, I know that tomorrow will be totally different.
I graduated from Edinburgh University in July 2001 with a MA in History degree. While at University I completed an Insight into Management course in the summer before my last year that I found out about from the Careers Service. I applied for Accenture during the milkround and was offered a consulting job with them in April 2001 before I sat my finals, which really helped to take the pressure off. I was able to choose my start date of July 2002 and joined the Products Operating Group. Training lasted four weeks starting off in Milton Keynes and ending up in Chicago. I am still on my first project which will last until the end of July 2003.