Consulting during Covid-19

*Please note: the project I will refer to in the article is a university consulting project integrated into the Strategy Consulting course at Nova SBE. All students were required to sign an NDA, therefore, I am not allowed to mention anything related to the client or the content of the project. This article will only refer to the organizational aspects and my perspective towards the experience and challenges that I feel my team is facing, and hopefully overcoming.

I remember on Class 6, our Professor closing the lecture with something like “I’ll see you soon, if Covid-19 allows it”. It was a few weeks ago, but somehow it feels like ages ago. After all, the evolution of the pandemics was so rapid and so disruptive that we now feel very distant from our pre-Covid lives.

Before this pandemic, our team met circa once a week. (Please bear in mind this project is different from a real consulting project, therefore, our effort, despite being significant, was also done remotely/individually, in order for it to be compatible with other commitments and other course/group-work we were undertaking). We would quickly debrief on our progress so far, we would go through the data we would find and we would agree on how to proceed, splitting tasks and continuing the work to the best of our abilities. The week before a deadline, we would usually meet 3-4 times to decide on the relevant content and put together our presentation.

Once Covid-19 hit Portugal and our beautiful campus in Carcavelos was shut down indefinitely, our “work” changed. We now meet online. It’s weird on one side, because last week we met almost daily. It was good, I think in the end we managed to have a very solid presentation. But it was completely different. You don’t really know if everyone is on the same boat via Skype. I felt like it took us longer than usual due to this barrier among us. We are working from 3 different countries after all. We are dealing with a lot of emotions right now. And when the client updated us on their challenges related to Covid-19, part of me wished this was a real consulting project. I wished our project manager, or in this case, our Professor, challenged us to revolutionize the scope of the project and focus on the real deal: Covid-19. But hey, after all, we are only a bunch of master’s students with a passion for consulting and big dreams. I’m not sure we would have had the capabilities and the knowledge to bring a concrete help to the company, but I guess this is the point of working in a risk-free environment: training us to be flexible, to drop our agenda, to serve the client without self-interest. But, of course, it is different to completely change the scope of a project in terms of grading criteria and course evaluation.

Nonetheless, I am taking this time to read more about consulting. To learn more about consulting. To see what the big 4 are doing in relation to Covid-19. And I am really trying my best to make it a career, hopefully once the airports will reopen and it will no longer be a WFH world.

Have a Safe Journey!
Camilla

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