• Role: Graduate Trainee
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: Natural Sciences
  • Organisation: ZS Associates

David Bradley

I joined ZS Associates straight from university as a Business Analyst. At university I studied Natural Sciences, specialising in Chemistry. Although I discounted a career in scientific research, I was still very keen on finding a career which used the analytical and problem solving skills which I had developed during my scientific degree.

This led me to consider management consultancy as a career path. I eventually chose ZS because of its highly quantitative approach and because I received very good impressions of the company throughout the interview process.

Current assignment

I have worked on a wide range of projects in my time at ZS. Currently, I am involved in a number of projects including a restructuring of a sales force in Sweden. The length of projects can vary, mine so far have been between three days and six weeks.

A week within the sales force restructuring project

For three weeks I have been staffed on a project with a manager and a principal, with the aim of providing a client with some qualitative suggestions backed up with analytical rigour on how to adapt their sales force structure in Sweden to allow greater flexibility to cope with loss of personnel.

Since the beginning of this project it has been clear that although I will receive guidance and support from the manager and principal, I would be taking responsibility for all the work for this project. As daunting as this sounded at first, this project has allowed me freedom to grow professionally, learning to stand on my own two feet, so to speak.

I am flying out to Norway later this week for the first meeting of our sales force restructuring project. Working abroad and travelling can be common in consultancy, although this has been my first experience of it after six months in the job. At ZS we tend to work in our office whenever we can. This morning, I am in our London office. I normally like to get in quite early, as this gives me time to read my emails and plan what I need to do for the rest of the day.

Today I am performing some final analyses that we will be discussing in the upcoming meeting. The principal I am working with will be presenting the material to the client on Thursday, so I set up a meeting during the afternoon to discuss the results of my analysis and the next steps.

At ZS we have developed some sales rep territory design software called Javelin Territory Designer®. Using this software in the meeting I show the principal several potential sales force alignments that could be used with different sales forces structures. After a few suggested tweaks, the principal seems pleased with the work I have done.

After a successful meeting yesterday I now have all the analysis I need to finish the presentation the principal will be using to guide the discussion in Thursday’s meeting at the client site.

Being more scientific than artistic, I seek help from the manager on the project for some suggestions on how to make the slides look less minimalist and more visually impressive.

At the end of the day I email the presentation to the principal and manager for feedback on the look and layout of the material. I’m flying out to Oslo tomorrow afternoon so I go home and pack, checking my suit is clean and pressed ready for the client meeting.

When I get to the office I receive the feedback on the presentation, and spend the morning making small changes to wordings and layouts. After copying all the necessary files to my laptop, I head out to the airport with the principal.

Luckily he has flown a few miles in his time, so we are welcomed into the airport lounge and enjoy some drinks and snacks before the flight. Since there is no work for me to be doing at the moment I can relax with a newspaper, a rare treat!

We arrive at the hotel moments before the restaurant closes, so we quickly grab some dinner before retiring for an early night ahead of our meeting tomorrow morning.

We head to the client office for 09.00. Today we are meeting with managers from various stations in the client’s Nordic business unit to discuss potential solutions to their sales force problems. The meeting lasts several hours and I am constantly jumping between different files and software, answering questions the clients pose during the presentation.

Overall, they are happy with our suggestions and very impressed with the Javelin Territory Designer® software. We eliminate several of the potential solutions and discuss the next steps for the project. We set a date for our final meeting, next time in Sweden, and we depart for the airport to board a flight home.

Back in the ZS office, I catch up with admin and my colleagues. I gather all my receipts and prepare my expense report for the trip. Since the principal is out at another meeting today I brief the manager on the progress in the meeting, and then use the remainder of the day to meet with the project manager for another project I am being assigned to. This will be a tool building project, which I am looking forward to as I’ve recently developed an interest in coding.

I also have a training session today which will take up most of the afternoon. I leave the office early and head to the pub with a few colleagues, it has been a very busy week and I’m looking forward to the weekend!

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