• Role: Business Analyst
  • Location: London
  • Degree: MA Biomedical Engineering
  • Organisation: ZS Associates

Caitlin McDonnell

Directly after completing my masters I joined ZS Associates in their London office. Having studied biomedical engineering, I was seeking a career that would combine my analytical and problem solving skills with my interest in science. This led me to consider management consultancy and eventually ZS.

I’m currently working on two projects, both of which are for clients in the pharmaceutical industry. The length of projects varies quite a bit – ranging from two weeks to several months.

Here’s a glimpse into my week as a Business Analyst at ZS Associates.


For the past three weeks, I have been working on a management restructuring project with a manager and a consultant. The client, an international pharmaceutical company, will need to make significant changes to their key account management over the next few years as they launch products in a new market. ZS’ role is to tailor these changes in their key account management for each of their 20 European offices.

My team has been collecting data on numerous aspects of each office’s performance and strengths, as well as this new market. We will then conduct workshops with the pharmaceutical company to discuss a specific approach for each office.

Since the beginning of this project it has been clear that although I would receive guidance and support from the consultant and manager, I would be responsible for building a tool that will consolidate and display the data.

This project was my first experience in analytical tool building, and while it sounded a bit daunting at first, it feels great to see the finished project.

Today, I make some final changes and check my analysis before sending my tool to my manager for review. Two of the workshops this week will leverage the tool for discussion. The project manager and a principle will lead the first workshop, and then the consultant and I will fly to Portugal later in the week where I’ll get to see my tool used in the second workshop.


When I arrive at the office I have received feedback on my tool. The manager is pretty pleased with it so I spend the morning adjusting the layout for a presentation view and add a few extra functionalities. I also make finishing touches to accompanying presentation slides that summarise the analysis and highlight key areas for development.

Then I switch gears to arrange for some of the materials to be translated for the client’s German affiliate. It’s a nice opportunity to call my colleague in the ZS Frankfurt office. I’d met her during last month’s training session in Chicago, so we catch up quickly, and she happily agrees to help me with the translation.

Once I’ve updated these documents, I head to dinner with several colleagues to celebrate a job well done on a previous project. There are eight team members at dinner, including two principles, and it’s nice to chat with my colleagues outside the office.

Since I’m flying to Lisbon tomorrow afternoon, I go home after dinner to pack for the meeting.


In the morning, I make a few changes to the tool to prepare it specifically for the Portugal office. The rest of the day is spent reading up on background information for another project.

In the afternoon, after copying the required files on to my computer I head to the airport and board my plane to Lisbon. Since ZS has a culture of traveling less than some other consulting firm, today’s trip will be my first. The fact that most people are regularly in the London office fosters a lively, collaborative atmosphere and that makes all the difference.


The consultant and I meet for breakfast before heading to the client’s office for 09.00. We’re meeting with managers from various divisions of the Portugal office in order to discuss upcoming management challenges across the business.

Throughout the workshop, I take note of the key discussion points and update the tool in real time to prompt further conversation. It’s satisfying to see my tool in use.

Afterwards the client also seems pleased with our work and is eager to implement the suggestions from today’s presentation.


Back in the ZS office I start my day with a client call for the other project I’m working on. This is a market research project for a company launching a skincare product in Australia. I’m looking forward to the variety of these two projects.

Reflecting on the outcomes of yesterday’s meeting, I prepare a summary document for the client.

Finally, I head to the pub to catch up with my colleagues and celebrate one of their birthdays. It’s been a busy week so I’m looking forward to the weekend.

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