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The Day To Prepare The Return To Consulting

“From the first day of working in industry she realized that management consulting is her true calling “

Ali emigrated from the Former Soviet Union with nothing. Ten years later she holds undergraduate and MBA degrees, having achieved both cum laude with highest distinctions. She is a director in a Fortune 200 company. From the first day of working in industry she realized that management consulting is her true calling and is the best reflection of who she is. She aims to go back to consulting within a few years, after serving out her current role so as to depart on “good terms.”

Between Sep 2013 and Sep 2014, Firmsconsulting is running The Women Premium theme. This article is part of our Sunday Routine series focusing on the theme by exploring the lives of some remarkable female clients in our program.

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RISE AND SHINE I wake up between 6-8am, depending on how late I went to bed the night before. The first thing I do is make myself a cup of green tea and I have it with few pieces of dark chocolate while reading the New York Times for about an hour.

CARDIO, YOGA AND PODCASTS Next I put on my gym clothes and do a cardio workout, usually aerobics, for about 45 minutes followed by yoga for about 15 minutes. I don’t enjoy doing cardio. I do it because I have to. I listen to podcasts while I am doing it. The podcasts I am now listening to are usually some combination of HBR Ideacast, the McKinsey Quarterly, McKinsey on Finance, BCG Perspectives, Econ Talk, Economist, and some podcasts targeted at financial services professionals. On the other hand, I love doing yoga. I try to do sun salutations later in the day as well. I feel my body needs it.

CHORES After a quick shower and grooming I do chores. I head to the convenience store to buy whatever we may need for the day. Sometimes I may walk to the office to pick up some work and bring it home. When I first joined the bank, I worked at the office every weekend from 8am until about 8pm, but recently we were given an option to have a laptop instead of a desktop and now I can work from home on weekends. I also no longer need to work such long hours as I cut back on my oversight of some internal projects, for the division leadership, I used to work on. The return on investment of my time and energy to assist with such projects was not sufficient to justify my further involvement.

WORK I try to finish my banking related work before 2pm, so I can get few hours to work on a strategy article that I am researching and writing, and for my general reading and professional development. I loved my previous job as a management consultant. After completing my MBA, I thought it would be an opportunity to get industry experience. I always loved financial services projects and thought banking will be a good fit. I could not have been more wrong. I felt deeply unhappy doing my job on every single day ever since I left management consulting. This switch also made me realize how lucky I was to find the work that I really love earlier in life. Now it is a trick of moving back to management consulting after serving in a demanding role that I committed to while trying to leave on exceptionally good terms. I am working on the strategy article because I miss management consulting work too much and this allows me to do consulting work of my own. I previously published two articles in prestigious journals and both were well received, so my fingers are crossed for the 3rd article which I think is my best piece so far.

This switch also made me realize how lucky I was to find the work that I really love earlier in life. 

LUNCH From 12 noon to 1pm my husband and I take a break as both of us work on weekends and we have lunch together. Usually it is some kind of baked dish as both of us don’t have time to cook. It is often crab cakes or chicken and some vegetable such as mushrooms or green beans. We try to eat healthy food so we try to stay away from red meat and pasta. We may have a half of a glass of wine with lunch.

BACK TO WORK From 1pm or shortly thereafter we are back to work. I am wrapping up my banking related work so I can start on my own work. At some point during the day, when I feel my mind is getting tired, I will do my weekly cleaning of the house which usually takes at least 1.5 hours. I clean the floors, bathrooms; do laundry, dusting and ironing. All the things that are an extreme waste of time but have to be done. I plan to hire someone to help with this in a few years. I listen to podcasts while cleaning the house. Then I am back to doing my work.

CALLING THE FAMILY In the afternoon I will call my family via video call on Skype. I wait for when they come online, and this is not always predictable. All of them are still back home, living in the same apartment as 10 years ago. I miss them very much. I have a big family, with 3 siblings and my parents. They gather around the computer and we talk about what happened during the week and what is ahead for the week to come. If my sister is at home, we always try to carve out some sister talk-time for just the two of us. My sister is almost 10 years younger than I and leaving her back home was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do. The plan was for her to come and join me, but life happened and she most likely will marry a local guy and build her life in my hometown.

DINNER At around 6pm we may have dinner. It may be just popcorn and a glass of wine. Both my husband and I don’t eat much. I suspect it is because both of us live in front of the computer due to our line of work. While eating we will watch something on TV. Usually it is a TV show such as Elementary, House of Cards, or The Good Wife. After dinner we usually will go for a walk in the city. We try to go and see different parts of the city. I am in constant search of a nice coffee shop but I could not find one for years. Maybe I need to lower my standards or open my own coffee shop. At the end of the walk we likely go to buy groceries for the week. The store is about 20 minutes walking distance away from our apartment, and if bags are not too heavy we will walk home. If we buy too much, we take a taxi.

FINAL TOUCHES AND UNWINDING At around 8.30pm or 9pm we will be back home. I do a couple of things to prepare for the week, such as ironing my clothing and packing my lunch for the next day. Then we will read in bed for a while. My husband will read news and magazines on the iPad and I will read HBR or some book. I usually read a few books at the same time. I love business books, especially memoirs of successful entrepreneurs or CEOs, such as “Tough Choices” by Carly Fiorina and “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. The amount of time I spend reading certainly does not reflect how much I love it. We usually put the lights off around 10pm to get some sleep as I am up at 5.30am during the workweek.

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