• Role: Graduate Management Consultant
  • University: Exeter
  • Degree: Business and Management

Anthony Purcell

I graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in Business and Management, making management consultancy a natural step into the corporate world – motivated by the ability to influence at the highest levels of organisations so early in my career.

Over a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging first year and a half working for EC Harris, I can confirm that there is no ‘typical’ day in the industry – but like any good graduate management consultant I have not let this prevent me from reaching an output that should help to add value to the audience!

Day in the life of a management consultant

8:00 am: I get into the office, fire up my laptop and go through my emails. I’m based in our headquarters for my current project, rather than on a client site, which is a nice change.

I’ve been working with a large affordable housing provider for the past six weeks, undertaking a strategic review of the property function. We will be presenting our findings and recommendations to a large team of senior client stakeholders at an Executive Steering Group (ESG) meeting tomorrow, so my commission manager has emailed me some comments from the commission leader on the ESG slidepack we’ve been working on.

I print out a couple of copies of the latest version and my commission manager and I run through the commission leader’s comments over breakfast and a cup of tea. We divide up the required work between us, and I make some notes on my to-do list for the day.

10:00 am: I work on my portion of the changes to the slidepack – this includes incorporating the output of a focus interview I undertook yesterday with a maintenance manager from the client organisation. The focus interview covered a range of topics including the maintenance manager’s day-to-day role, and her views on the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and her role within it.

I need to review my notes from the interview, draw out key themes and provide insight in the context of our wider findings from the overall review.

12:30 pm: I head out for lunch with my commission manager and a couple of other members from my team. It’s a nice day so we grab some sandwiches and eat them down by the canal. It’s good to get out of the office and catch up on what other members of the team are working on.

1:15 pm: I have a meeting with the global account leader for water, to get some feedback on a ‘knowledge share’ slidepack I’m working on for our asset management service line. The objective of the slidepack is to pull together collective EC Harris knowledge around a particular aspect of asset management within utilities.

My involvement with this has highlighted two aspects I really value at EC Harris – firstly, that you can get involved with anything you’re interested in if you seek out the opportunity, and also that everyone from the organisation is accessible and genuinely willing to help out with insight and advice.

2:00 pm: Back at my desk, I complete the changes required for the ESG slidepack, and email it back to my commission manager for a final check, along with a few thoughts and suggestions around the content and our delivery at the meeting tomorrow.

3:30 pm: This afternoon I’m facilitating the monthly meeting for our operational excellence service line. I’ve taken a role looking after team governance, which means organising and facilitating team meetings, capturing sales and performance statistics for the team dashboard, and driving completion of actions from the previous meeting.

This month we discuss potential sales opportunities and bids, and have a team de-brief of the Lean Six Sigma training that the majority of us have recently completed.

5.00 pm: My commission manager and I catch the train from Kings Cross –the Executive Steering Group meeting is in Yorkshire tomorrow morning, so we’ll be staying the night near the client’s office. It’s rare to be away from home on a Friday, however for meetings like this it sometimes can’t be avoided.

On the train we run through the output we’re presenting tomorrow – I’ll be leading part of the session, so I note down some of the key messages to make sure I’m clear on what I need to say and how I’m going to say it.

7.15 pm: We check into the hotel and meet the commission leader for the project – we have dinner in the hotel restaurant and talk through the output. After dinner we head to the bar to discuss our roles for tomorrow’s meeting over a pint.

As built asset consultants our role is to give honest and trusted advice to our clients, which sometimes means we have to deliver hard-hitting messages. Talking through potential scenarios and planning how to respond to these helps ensure that we get our point across without getting bogged down in client ‘politics’, and the commission leader has a wealth of advice drawn from his extensive experience on similar projects.

9.30 pm: I head upstairs to bed – the Executive Steering Group session begins at 8am tomorrow and we want to make sure we’re well-rested so we can make a really powerful impression. If all goes to plan tomorrow we’ll be celebrating a job well done!

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