day in the life of a consultant

Many candidates ask our coaches what a typical day in the life of a consultant is like. In a way, it’s a tough question to answer because there is no such thing as a “typical” day. Most days differ vastly, and no two consultants will give you the same response. But on the whole, there are some commonalities that you can expect.

In order to shed some light on a day in the life of a management consultant, allow me to share the story of Jane.

On the Move

Jane’s alarm goes off at 4:30am. Even after three years in consulting, she still hasn’t gotten used to the Monday morning wakeup call. She quickly showers, dresses, and rushes to her Uber waiting patiently outside. She sleeps on the short ride to the airport, groggy from a restless night anticipating the week ahead.

On the plane, Jane relishes in the comfort of her vanilla latte, to which she asked the barista to add an extra expresso shot – she needs to work during her commute. At 10,000 feet, she flips open her laptop, connects to WiFi, and braces herself for an influx of weekend emails that she put-off reading.

Two hours and twenty emails later, Jane lands at Chicago O’Hare airport, feeling awake and organized. She’s ready to take on the week.

At the Client Site

After a short drive in her rental car, Jane arrives at 9am – before most people in the building have even had their morning coffee. As her clients and teammates slowly trickle-in, Jane begins preparing the agenda for her team’s weekly check-in. She glances at her calendar and realizes that she doesn’t even have a break in her schedule for lunch. Again she feels grateful for that extra shot of expresso.

At 10am, three clients join the consulting team in the “war room” (aka, the conference room where the consultants work). Jane kicks-off the meeting by reviewing the agenda she sent out ahead of time and, after facilitating an efficient discussion, recites action items for the day.

The rest of the day is filled with a mix of invigorating brainstorming sessions, dull status calls, and challenging client discussions. Jane’s current project is a post-merger integration between two large, high-end clothing retailers. Her role is to facilitate a smooth transition to the newly consolidated e-Commerce site.

Home Away from Home

Her last on-site meeting ends at 6pm, when most of the clients begin packing-up to head home. Jane gazes out the 55th floor window at a breathtaking sunset over the Chicago skyline, making a mental note of what she still needs to accomplish.

  • Host a call with the Japanese team at 6:30pm (8:30am Tokyo time)
  • Refine her synergy-capture model
  • Email her project leaders with a status update from the day

Around 8:30pm, Jane decides to head back to her hotel for a quick work-out and dinner. She’s greeted in the lobby by her favorite concierge, who automatically takes her bag and hands her a warm cookie. She knows most of the hotel staff by name, and smiles as the receptionist upgrades her to a suite for being a frequent guest. She heads straight to the gym after dropping her things in the room.

Winding Down

After thirty minutes on the treadmill, she heads back to her room and orders room service. She enjoys her usual Caesar salad and sends her last email of the day before receiving a text from her work bestie. Great news – their reservation for tomorrow night has been confirmed for that cute new Asian fusion restaurant across the street. Over a glass of Pinot Noir, Jane reflects on her busy day, grateful for a job that both challenges and inspires her daily.

Jane’s story captures many aspects that are typical of a day in the life of a consultant: early morning travel, jam-packed schedules, dynamic work, and making the most of your “home away from home”. Many aspects of consulting are glamorous and sexy, but some are also challenging and dull. The questions you may want to ask yourself include:

  • Do I like being busy rather than bored, and do I thrive on hustle and bustle?
  • Am I comfortable with not having consistent routines in my life?
  • Do I crave challenges and succeed on steep learning curves?
  • Does travel give me energy?

If your answers are yes, then you are likely to enjoy the life of a consultant!