Of an enterprise consultant!
*singing* It’s all about me – it’s all about me!
*wolves howling, babies crying, the apocalypse*
Alright, let’s take another break from Eden posts.
I have been an IT consultant for almost 11 years now. Maybe someday I’ll write a boring book about consulting (that will sell better than any fiction I attempt), but for now I’m content to share thru the Blog. Nothing stops the Blog!
I know there’s a burning question in your throat, yearning for relief: what’s it like to be an enterprise consultant? Is it really like that George Clooney movie? Surprisingly, it is… Let’s take a look!
(note: I wrote most of this earlier in the year when I was traveling to a different client each week. For the past 3 months, however, I’ve been on a larger/static project. Anyway…)
Typically a family day. We might take a little trip, watch some football or whatever. If I’ve been traveling for many weeks in a row, it’s also usually a laundry day. So, Sundays like that are usually “stay at home”. Sunday night, I pack!
Monday mornings usually involve waking up at the ass-crack of dawn to catch a plane. Bleary-eyed, I drive to Bradley Airport and park my car. Monday morning security is always packed, so that takes a little extra time. I sometimes hop into the “family” line because all the savvy business travelers avoid it like a show on the CW (okay, that was unprovoked… I’ve heard good things about Supernatural). What those ‘savvy’ businesspeople don’t realize is that the line moves fast when nobody’s in it! (not too many families travel on monday mornings)
After a flight, I arrive in my destination and head straight for the rental counter where my reservation awaits. Hop in the car, attach Garmin, and I’m off! I usually reach the client site in the late morning for a quick meet & greet. Getting through their security usually takes the longest. At that initial meeting, we discuss (again) goals & expectations and we each tell the other party what we need.
Of course, something typically goes sideways on this first day… the latest example was my suitcase disintegrating on me right after I took it off the baggage carousel in SEATAC airport. For this particular trip, I was traveling with an extra laptop – so, I was a mess heading to the rental car counter.
If the project is more technical in nature, I’m typically hooked-up with a resource and we get to work. Sometimes, I’m given the access I need to be left alone to do the job, but that is the exception. Usually, I’m only there to guide the onsite technical resource and answer questions. In many technical engagements I also provide training in the form of “workshops”. For these, I prepare material and then we all get together to review that material and build compliance content for them right then and there. They learn & build simultaneously.
For a more non-technical project, I’m simply consulting on best practices revolving around security & compliance for whatever IT controls they have in place (or want to put in place). In this capacity, I’m more of a “guide” than anything else. True, we’re using software to achieve our goals of automation, but sometimes clients need some help with overall direction.
At the end of the first day, I find my hotel (thanks to Garmin again) and I call the family on Skype from my hotel room once I get settled. After that, I usually send out a daily update email to the client and my people with my company. I also might answer some emails from other clients. Once all that is finished, it has been a long day – time for some sleep!
Tuesday-Thursday are usually a tad more calm. I wake up and usually eat breakfast in the hotel. If the hotel has a fridge, I’ll go out and buy plastic spoons/bowls and some cereal. The days are filled with meetings to discuss the project and sessions to complete that work. Lunch is usually spent with the client or other colleagues from the software company I’m partnered with. Everyone usually goes home at 5pm (in whatever timezone I happen to be in) and so do I. Most nights, I like to talk to my family on Skype and retain my humanity by writing, playing games or just relaxing. After an update email to the client (and maybe some more email responses to other clients), I usually like to lay the work down. I didn’t beat the snot outta cancer to work all night, every night.
On Tuesdays, however, I need to prep for the next week’s trip as well – secure flight, hotel, car. This also involves some form of coordination with the next client.
Since meals are expensed, I usually find a place to eat… and I usually order dessert. Feck, it’s all catching up to me now. I’ll probably have to fit the gym into my nighttime schedule very soon. Damn my weakness for brownies!
Fridays are usually half work days / half travel days (like monday). I’ll get in early (if possible) and work until about lunch time. After that, it’s a reverse of monday: drive the rental back to the airport, go through security, hop a plane home.
Friends and family, usually. I like to wake up with the kids, eat breakfast with them and play some games. I spend as much time as possible with the family on the weekends, and I actually think I appreciate that time more than ever. Before I took this job, I was *always* home and I think I took a few things for granted. Not anymore! Family is first and I make the most time for them whenever I can.
At the time of this writing, I think we have a handle on the travel. West coast is rough, but hopefully those days are numbered. The owner of my company promised he’d keep me in the Northeast as much as possible, and he admitted it might take some time to “get there”. Well, it’s slowly coming to fruition as I have recently had clients in: Buffalo, Philly, Rhode Island and Stamford (CT). I’d always prefer to drive than fly, so I hope this trend continues.
Another trend I’m seeing is more companies saving on travel expenses. That means more and more days working from home. It’s nice to be home, but with no clear end to the workday – sometimes I work too much. However, it’s nice to put the kids on the bus and be there for them when the bus returns most days. That’s a great perk.
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