Written by Punam Ghosh, a Manager in the strategy division of the financial-services group for Accenture. Prior to joining the London office of Accenture, Punam did her undergraduate study at Cambridge University and earned her MBA degree from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford in 2003.
I am currently a manager in the strategy division of the financial-services group for Accenture, the global management consulting firm. Based in the company’s London office, I have been developing solutions that can be implemented — rather than devising theoretical ideals — for our clients on a number of interesting projects. I am also the manager responsible for recruiting and resourcing for Accenture’s strategy division.
Back in my final undergraduate year at Cambridge University, I did an internship in Accenture’s (ACN) strategy practice. I enjoyed it and joined the firm upon graduation. I worked on a variety of projects, such as business-change programs, post-merger integrations, and pre-merger analysis for our clients. My interest in mergers and acquisitions led me to join Goldman Sachs (GS ) as an investment banker, where I was able to hone my financial skills. After earning my MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, I made my way back to Accenture.
Here’s a typical day in my life:
7:58 a.m. — Alarm goes off on my mobile phone. I turn on my radio to hear the news of the day. I still haven’t learned how to set the timer on my radio.
8:08 a.m. — After listening to the day’s headlines, I emerge from under the sheets and draw the blinds. The sunlight hurts my eyes, and I escape into the darkness of the bathroom. I hate mornings.
8:40 a.m. — Staggering from the shower, I throw on a suit and swallow some vitamins. I am running late. I’m glad I live in the city. Otherwise I’d never make it to work on time.
8:59 a.m. — Arrive at the financial-services client in a flush, having run the whole way. I log onto my laptop and check my voice mail. I have one new voice mail telling me to submit my time and expenses, or the Accenture Police will get me.
9:10 a.m. — The client and I walk off to get our bagels and cappuccinos. When I return to my desk, I learn that we have an emergency meeting with the CEO and CFO in 20 minutes. I start frantically amending the PowerPoint presentation: creating boxes, writing straplines, fiddling with numbers, changing graphs, reducing font sizes, and all that good stuff.
9:23 a.m. — Send eight copies of the presentation to the color printer, but it’s jammed. I panic, press some buttons, open and slam a few doors, curse, and the printing resumes.
9:29 a.m. — Arrive at the meeting room on time. The CEO and his crew all enter the scene shortly. They are in good spirits, and I present to them. They like it, except for a few colorful words. I promise to tone down my language.
10:30 a.m. — Walking out of the meeting, I reflect on how cool it is to be working among the leaders of a top 100 company, discussing how to articulate the firm’s direction to the media and market. I return to my desk and make more changes to the presentation.
11:40 a.m. — My mobile rings. It is a consultant at Accenture who wants to transfer into the strategy division. This is music to my ears. We have ambitious growth targets, and good people are hard to come by. After a discussion about his background, I encourage him to apply.
12 p.m. — Lunch. With this client, I can actually sit down with the team in the canteen and eat my lunch. Otherwise I’d have to bring a soggy sandwich back to my desk while tapping away at the keyboard.
12:30 p.m. — Return to my desk. I discover a voice mail from my flatmate telling me that we have lost our wireless connectivity at home. I panic. How will I instant-message my friends? Unable to worry about such a problem at this point, I delegate this thankless task to him and return to my day job.
2 p.m. — Meet again with the big boys. This time I learn of new business developments that I must incorporate into the presentation. They are less cheery now, as the developments negatively impact the financials. I go away and think of how to convey the information more positively.
5:30 p.m. — Hand the latest versions of the presentation to the clients for their bedtime reading. I receive CVs from MBAs by e-mail from our recruiting team, and spend a total of 30 seconds reading through each of them, before I make my yeas and nays.
5:51 p.m. — Suddenly, I discover an error on the presentation I had handed to the clients. I panic. The numbers don’t make sense. In my vain attempt to put a positive spin on the story, I was overzealous in stating that revenues had grown by 111% rather than 11%, and my graph is wrong, too. The CEO and CFO are leaving at 6 p.m., and I only have nine minutes to rectify the situation and reprint the presentations. I make the changes and pray — while running to the printer — that there is no queue, and that the color ink cartridges haven’t run out. (The yellow one runs out a lot.)
5:58 p.m. — Grab the presentations off the printer and run across the client floor (there’s a lot of running in my job). I see the CEO and CFO chatting outside their rooms, so I give the amended presentations to their secretaries. They smile at me knowingly and swap the presentations just in time.
6:01 p.m. — Phew. The CEO and CFO walk out of the building with the correct presentations. I get myself a congratulatory cappuccino and resume work again.
7 p.m. — I’m heading out the door — and it’s still daylight. Off to the gym for my daily run, before I embark on an evening of fun and games.
11:45 p.m. — Mum rings my mobile. She wants to know where I am and why I’m not in bed. I receive this courtesy call every night, even on weekends. Why isn’t she in bed?
1:30 a.m. — Check e-mail again. Glad to discover wireless connectivity is back up.
2 a.m. — Bedtime. I really should go to sleep earlier. Maybe then I would like the mornings.
When I reflect on my MBA experience, I think it consolidated the skills I had learned at both Accenture and Goldman Sachs. Furthermore, it allowed me to benchmark myself against peers from different backgrounds, and confirmed my decision to return to strategy consultancy.
If I had to go through business school again, I would study a foreign language. Being in school offers much more time than working life. MBA students have structured timetables providing great flexibility, compared with consultants who have to respond to client needs as and when they arise.
Now in my second stint with Accenture, it remains a fun place to work, and I continue to build good friendships with clients and colleagues.
Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek.