If variety is the spice of life then my life as a consultant so far has been spent strolling up and down a metaphorical spice market negotiating and haggling with myself.
It’s difficult to capture the variety and fluidity of life as consultant in the BTS (Business Technology Solutions) Graduate Junior Consultant team in one day. At the risk of sounding dramatic, sometimes it feels like I’m living an essay on the fluidity of identity written by Derrida, Guattari or Foucault. Our role changes all of the time and our flexibility as well as adaptability is our most prized asset. We simultaneously teach, learn, analyse and build ourselves and those around us through evolving relationships. In many ways, our identity is ethereal and shifts across a three dimensional spectrum.
Before I start I should highlight that no two days have been the same. Sure, some have been busier than others and while we often carry out similar activities; they are never carried out in an identical manner as we continuously adapt to the character and requirements of clients, colleagues and other stakeholders.
On this day I have the relative pleasure of working from home; I woke up some time before 6 am and started to make coffee (as per my morning ritual). By 6am I am on the corner sofa, where the apricity of winter sunshine warms the side of my face, I am armed with my notebook, my headset and my precious coffee, for the next four hours I’ll be running a master class teaching experienced sales staff in Australia, China & Japan how to use SAP C4C, the exciting new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that is being rolled out globally through their company. The attendants will be the super users tasked with supporting and teaching their colleagues once the deployment is complete.
Any sense of tiredness I had has disappeared as I exclaim “good afternoon everyone!” and share my screen. There are dozens of power point slides to go through and to prevent monotony for the listeners I intersperse these with demonstrations of how I can create sales quotes, opportunities and forecast on the browser based C4C interface. After about two hours I encourage the listeners to log onto the system themselves and have a play. I remember how foreign C4C & CRM sounded to me just a few months ago, there’s only so much that users can learn through me going through slides and showing the occasional demonstration. As the users start logging onto the system I know that questions will start popping up, and here is where they will really learn.
By the time the last super user has logged off our call it’s almost 10 am, I know I have another one of these calls with European users in just a few short hours. I pour myself some more coffee and briefly go through the notes I captured from this morning’s call, sometimes I don’t have the answer to the super users questions on hand so it’s important that I capture these and reach out to colleagues who do, so that I can provide the answer soon and be prepared the next time the same question comes up. Having done this I can ease my mind a bit, I turn on the news and start preparing for tomorrow when I’ll be travelling to Woking in Surrey to meet with a Brazilian Portuguese linguist who will be helping me record video simulations of the Portuguese language C4C interface. I’m excited for the opportunity to absorb some language skills as we work through the captions that will go on the video, at the moment my Portuguese is limited to explaining that “the goats live on the mountains”.
Before the European master class starts I have quick lunch made up of pasta, tomato sauce and tuna. The European super users start to log on and I’m a little confused by the low attendance until I remember that the Netherlands and France have already gone live so it’s just Italy and Spain today. Deep down inside I’m a little happy about it as I’ll have the opportunity to speak Spanish and Italian, languages I have been using all my life and I know that I will be able to help the users where appropriate by eliminating the language barrier. The super users seem to appreciate this and I feel a distinct sense of pride when they explain the C4C processes & procedures back to me perfectly both in English and in our own languages.
As the last European user logs off I hear an email notification, my meeting room booking for tomorrows linguist has been confirmed. It’s time to pop out and do some quick shopping.
Upon my return I have a call with the 3rd party agency that has been producing C4C e-learning courses in about a dozen languages for the hundreds of users around the world. We’ve been falling behind schedule and if we don’t find a solution soon some countries will not have e-learning courses in their language in time for go-live. I pull out my language by language progress report as well as my step by step chart and process map and start talking through the challenges with the team; we can’t ask the translators to translate any faster without sacrificing quality so there must be somewhere else where we can increase efficiency and save time. We take a meticulous approach analysing the steps that lead up to the e-learning course being published weighing the risks and feasibility of dropping each of the steps. Eventually we agree on three options, all of which have some risk but we feel pretty comfortable with being able to mitigate these risks, we agree to sleep on it and pitch the options to the project lead tomorrow afternoon.
It’s already 3:30pm and almost time to start the super user master class for the Americas, I quickly answer a few emails before getting my headset on and I’m ready to go.
“Good Morning everyone in North & South America”
By the time we’re finished it’s almost 5pm and I’m ready to log off. I had set aside half an hour to catch up on emails and write this here blog post, which I will probably leave for the train ride tomorrow. It’s been an interesting day I’ve been a teacher, a student, a problem solver and an analyst. Life at BTS is full of variety! Now I’m just hungry so soon I’ll be putting my chef’s hat on again.
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By Lorenzo Squillante – LinkedIn