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09/04/2013

Do Something Every Day that Scares You - Lauren Morrell

ScareDuring my senior year of college, I received what can only appropriately be described as an onslaught of life advice.  Fortunately for me, all the advice came together quite nicely, and by the time I started looking for full-time jobs I knew definitively that I had to:

Not worry about a getting a job (it all works out!) while also landing a GREAT job (because it doesn't always just 'work out').  Explore new fields (be a Renaissance woman!) while making sure to stay laser-focused on my passion (you gotta know what you want, and go get it!).  Work hard because this is critical career-building time (30 is not the new 20!), while also remembering to have fun while I still could (because, honey, youth is wasted on the young!)

Call me a freshman in Philosophy 101, because I'm having a full-blown existential crisis.

In all seriousness, while it was incredibly challenging to work out the signal from the noise, there was one piece of advice that always stood out to me as being unequivocally true: 

Do something every day that scares you.

Now, THAT made sense.  Scaring yourself means stretching your limits and putting yourself in a new, different situation in order to come away a more experienced, knowledgeable, and interesting person.  Whether I did or did not live up to the other expectations being put upon myself and the rest of my graduating class, I felt confident that if I could continue to stretch and, for lack of a better word, “scare” myself, I would consistently grow, learn, and progress as I made my debut in the professional world.

So, what did that mean?  For me, I knew I wanted to 1) be put in situations I had never been in before, 2) travel to see new places, and, most importantly, 3) never, ever be bored.

And if I wanted to support myself while doing that?  Follow my heart to become: a professional base jumper, an Olympic gymnast, or a consultant.

Yes, a consultant.  A business-casual-wearing, often desk-sitting consultant.  Let me elaborate:

  1. Be put in situations I've never been in before:  A neuroscience major more used to the lab than the boardroom presenting the business case for our pharmaceutical client's new R&D initiative?  Hadn't been there, now I've done that
  2. Travel to see new places: Office in New York, project in Atlanta, alt-travel to Paris?  All in a week's work
  3. Never, ever be bored: Working at a new company and in a new industry every six months?  Check and check

At the risk of being that 3rd party providing unsolicited advice, as you decide on a post-grad career path, I strongly suggest that you keep in mind the importance of stretching, challenging, and, yes, scaring yourself in your new role.  I am fortunate to have found that opportunity through my time as a consultant, but whether your dream job requires a jumpsuit for a three-piece suit, you should never shy away from an opportunity to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. 

But, hey, that's just my two cents!

Meditations in an airport gift shop - John Michael Cassetta

Bzi_ris_glb_ho_668_loAlong the darkest, loneliest corridor of United’s terminal at Dulles airport is the so-called Gift Shop of America. It was in this store that I found myself trying to decide on my souvenir from DC: a magnet of a rather stately Obama family bedazzled with plastic rhinestones, or a pink ceramic mug festooned with “THE FIRST LADY” and an oddly monarchical crown. Big Decisions.

Before I joined the firm I spoke to a few Deloitte consultants who told me that what kept them at the firm was the knowledge that every day was going to be totally different from the last. I didn’t quite understand that at the time, but now nearly three years, many clients and even more cities later, I’ve realized that every single day has indeed been totally different. And that it’s often been exciting and challenging at the same time.

Other than finding space for all the mini shampoo bottles I seem to bring home, the biggest challenge for me has been remembering all these every-day-is-different days. As I see it, you’ve got two strategies:

1. The Foursquare Approach (aka REMEMBER EVERYTHING). Check-in to every last suburban Chili’s to earn the “two-for-twenty for one” badge; have your mom laminate and tack above your bed every version of every excel model you ever built to solve a challenging problem; instagram that transcendent slide you made that totally saved the day when—wait, that last one is definitely against the confidentiality policy, don’t instagram your slides…

2. The Quirky Souvenir Approach (aka the airport gift shop). For each new city, grab a (hilarious) souvenir to give to a friend or keep for around the house: a First Family fridge magnet that makes you laugh when you go to get the milk, or maybe a “Gas Stations of Los Angeles” coffee table book that starts conversations with friends. Here it’s about having a data point to remind you of that unique experience, more than an exhaustive list of everything you’ve experienced.

Not surprisingly, I come down on the side of the quirky souvenirs. When you apply that strategy to client work, it’s easy to see why: One of my most memorable project experiences was working with a client team to develop a fairly complex sales forecasting tool that could still visualize data in a straightforward way. Sure the models were slick, but when we all got together to look at the data visualization, something wild happened: sales people were jumping out of their seats (literally) to take control of the visualization tool to prove their hypotheses, challenge each other’s views and plan their business strategies together.

I’ve still got a folder the size of my iTunes library with all those models I built. But what I remember from that project isn’t a series of models, it’s the intangible feeling of having enabled an organization to predict and influence their future. That meeting is a story; it’s what I bring up first when people ask me what we did on that project because it’s a quirky, funny souvenir that reminds me of the hard work we did and the challenges we had to overcome. Not unlike the crown-topped FIRST LADY mug.

One Job, Many Hats - Michelle Lee

PaintOne afternoon in preschool, my teacher asked each of us to paint a picture of what we wanted to be when we grow up. Images of firefighters, chefs, policemen, teachers, and astronauts came to life on the easels around me. My easel, however, stared blankly at me. You see, for as long as I can remember, I was never able to firmly decide on what I wanted to be “when I grow up.”

From preschool through college,  I have entertained every potential career option that has come to mind. I have considered being a children’s book author, a coffee shop owner, a wedding planner, an economist, an interior designer, an English teacher, a city planner, an art trader, a non-profit leader, a hotelier, a sommelier, and, yes, even a professional surfer (that phase did not last very long).   

When I joined Deloitte back in August, I thought I had signed up for one job: to be a consultant. Little did I know that I would have the flexibility to try on different hats for fun – and get paid – all within my first ten months at Deloitte.

A sample of the many hats I have worn as a first year Business Analyst include:

  • Being an events planner for the Winter Celebration, the Boston office’s signature black-tie event of the year
  • Overseeing the pro bono and skills based volunteering sites in Boston for this year’s Impact Day, a national initiative where Deloitte practitioners dedicate their Friday to volunteer for a local non-profit organization
  • Facilitating a TED Talk roundtable discussion on happiness in the workplace with the Boston office BAAC community
  • Contributing content to a “Point of View” paper on service level differentiated supply chains 
  • Researching best practices for sustainable water management across the United States
  • Mentoring a February BA hire, a Summer Scholar, and a handful of interviewees during recruiting
  • Serving as Chief Restaurant Critic for my project team as we scout out new restaurants in Memphis for our weekly team dinners
  • Being a freelance writer for the next up-and-coming blog, The Real Deal

Business Analyst life is not restricted to running numbers and building beautifully-crafted slides. In fact, Deloitte encourages you to take the reins on what you do with your time outside of client work. Want to learn more about the social sector? Look for ways to contribute to Deloitte’s growing Social Impact Strategy offering. Always wanted to teach? Sign up to teach a training course at your local office. Never got to become a professional skier? Plan the office ski trip next winter. At Deloitte, you can go and try on as many hats as you’d like.

Oh, and if you want to know what I ultimately painted on the easel that day, I eventually picked up my brush and painted a girl holding a suitcase in front of an airplane. My perceptive four-year-old self saw straight into the future and thought it would be rather exciting to be a traveler when she grew up.

 

Michelle Lee is a 1st-year Business Analyst out of the Boston office. She earned a degree in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She looks forward to alt-traveling to Hawaii in September where she will attempt to revive her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Finding Passion in Printing - Ilan Gluck

3D printingWhen I first joined the firm, my onboarding buddy preached the age-old Confucius quote: “Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  It’s difficult, he explained, to pick your head up from the daily demands of our client work, but actively seeking something you love within the firm is a necessity to being a successful BA and enjoying your time with Deloitte.  After two years with Deloitte, I now understand what it means to actively seek the type of work that interests you, and how your attitude changes when you’re working on something you are passionate about.  

From the time I started as a Business Analyst I knew that I wanted to be involved in the TMT industry.  Over the first two years of my career I was not staffed on a purely TMT project.  However, in an effort to work in my preferred industry, I made a point to stay close to the TMT industry and look for ways to get involved.  Eventually, along with three other BA’s from my office, I became heavily involved in the TMT Wars.  The TMT Wars is a nation-wide competition to develop a piece of eminence or go-to-market strategy on a trending topic within the industry.  Our group chose 3D printing and the potential impacts it can have on technology companies. 

After deeming ourselves the “Printers Union,” we immersed ourselves in the world of 3D printing.  Our work opened doors to parts of Deloitte we never knew existed, such as the Innovation Center, Center for the Edge, and Deloitte Innovation.  We stayed up late and worked weekends, but the work we were doing was so fulfilling, the hours didn’t matter.   As we continued to build out our report, more and more people from the TMT industry became interested in our point of view.  All of a sudden, we had partners and senior leadership reaching out to us for our opinion on 3D printing and how Deloitte should get involved.  We made a name for ourselves as subject matter experts in one of the most cutting-edge technologies.  Most importantly, we were enjoying what we were doing, which made all the difference.

As you continue to build your career at Deloitte, I encourage you to find what you are passionate about and actively seek that out within the firm.  The firm is so big there is bound to be somebody else interested in the same topic, or willing to help you explore further.  It’s up to you to manage your own career, so find something you care about and make it work for you!

Communication skills? Please! Oh, wait... - Brandon Rose

Ind_tmt_glb_ve_1603_loThe best piece of feedback I received on my first project was on my communication skills. I was definitely taken aback since I had never had anyone critique how I communicate. I assumed I was able to communicate things clearly and was able to make and prove points in a succinct and compelling manner. Well, that’s what I thought at least.

My project manager pointed out that when I tried to explain my work I immediately dove into the details, dragging the listener through weeds, and finally emerging far too long later with a bored or disinterested audience. Yikes! How did I not realize I was doing this? The issue was that my work was much more complex than anything I had done in school and I thought that no one would understand what I was talking about without significant context. Of course, my audience was comprised of either experienced consultants or client subject matter experts. In other words, they knew more about the topic than I did!

My manager suggested that I provide the “conclusion” first and then see if the client or my project team needed more details. I needed to learn to give the listener the benefit of the doubt that they could understand the conclusion without detailed supporting evidence or an in-depth description of my analytical process.

I can easily say that getting this feedback early allowed me to work on improving this core skill so that my team felt comfortable putting me in front of executive level clients. When the partner on your project asks what you think (which they definitely will!) or a client asks you to explain what you are working on during a meeting I can’t think of a better piece of advice than to provide the “conclusion” up front.

The consulting world is fast paced and the people you work with will want to get you up to speed as quickly as possible so expect to get honest feedback. Expect to be surprised to hear that something you thought was a strength can be improved and be ready to jump on that advice to take your skillset to the next level!

College Part 2... Because Everyone Loved Freshman Year - Neena Vasavan

Atlanta First
Atlanta First (rising second) Year BA class at the BATT at DU

Looking back on my first year at the firm, I realize that life at Deloitte is not very different from life on campus. In order to be successful, you need to get good grades (read: do well on your client-work, and have that stellar performance documented in the form of project evaluations). Above that, you also want to be actively involved in one or two (not five or six) campus activities (read: firm initiatives) where you can make an impact. If you are reading this, you are probably a junior or senior in college who has this pattern down cold… so, congratulations! You already know the formula to success on the job.

Now that I’ve got you on board with my analogy, let’s take it one step further: imagine your first-year as a Business Analyst similar to your freshman year of college. Everything is new and exciting, and you are about to meet hundreds of people and be exposed to a world you never knew before. Coming out of high school, that world may have been the freedom of eating all six desserts at the dining hall or sleeping until 3 pm on a Tuesday. At Deloitte, that world may consist of exploring new cities, states, and even countries via your project locations and alternative travel. Or maybe it’s not spending a penny on hotels for your week-long vacation thanks to all your loyalty points… and then being upgraded to a two-room suite because of your Platinum status. And let’s not forget, you can still eat dessert to your heart’s content thanks to daily team dinners (be warned: just like the Freshman 15, the Deloitte 15 does exist).

While all of the above is fantastic, I think everyone’s favorite part of freshman year was making some of their closest friends. Remember immediately bonding with the entire floor of your dorm? Meeting the rest of your BA class is much like that. Most BAs start their time at Deloitte with anywhere from 5-30 peers in their office, and with that comes an inherent comfort. You can ask them questions, share their trials and triumphs, and explore a new city together. Above all, you aren’t often staffed with multiple BAs from your class. The result? You come back to your home office every Friday ready to relax and catch up with the friends you haven’t seen in a week. That part is key: in college, you probably had the peers you worked on class projects with and the friends you spent your weekends with. At Deloitte, the same holds true; you will have a friendly, hard-working project team who you see Monday-Thursday, but your BA class is what makes the Deloitte experience complete.

While I’m a bit sad that my first year has flown by, I know that I have made strong relationships and I am excited to welcome a new class of “freshmen” and help them navigate Deloitte. Some people say college is the best 4 years of one’s life… get ready for College, Part 2.

09/01/2013

Reflections on Business Analyst Transition Training (BATT) - Sahil Rahman

This past April, I along with my fellow commercial S & O Business Analysts from around the nation flooded the Deloitte University campus in Westlake, TX. We had all returned to DU for Business Analyst Transition Training (BATT); an intense 2-day event focused on improving our data analytics ability, particularly in MS Excel and a data visualization tool called Tableau, meant to help prepare us for the transition into our 2nd years as analysts at the firm.

It was my first time back to Deloitte University since our New Hire Training in August, and I was excited to reunite with old friends. The collaborative environment at our initial training helped us develop strong bonds with our fellow analysts from around the country, and in a strange way, held much of the same  excited feeling of returning to college and reconnecting with friends after a long summer apart.

The months since we last saw each other had flown by, and it was a blast catching up and hearing all that had transpired in each other’s fast-paced, travel filled lives over the past year. After trading stories at The Barn (The preferred watering hole on campus), it struck me how different everyone’s adventures been since we all started at the firm together. Despite the fact we all technically started with the same position, every single one of us has had a completely different experience at the firm.

As young consultants at the firm, our lives function in a fascinating framework of structured improvisation. We live and work in different cities, have various clients in industries ranging from Hospitality to Healthcare, and work with different managers and teams; yet, at the same time we have the same jobs, learned the same core fundamentals, and have the same expectations. As a result, I found we all shared a unique sense of camaraderie and inherent understanding of one another’s lives and experiences.

Aside from re-connecting with old friends, returning to Deloitte University also had the unexpected effect of helping me realize how much I had grown over the past year from a care-free college grad to a young professional. Even at this training, the fact that I was excited to learn more Excel was rather remarkable, given that I had been somewhat terrified of having to use the software as I was starting out (Yes, you can learn it!). It allowed me to reflect and understand how much I’ve evolved personally and professionally in such a short period of time, and provided me a great deal of appreciation for the investment the firm has made in my development.

While I would be lying if I said I was even close to having it all figured out, for the first time, I feel like I can face any “grown up” challenge that may come my way, and conquer it. For that feeling alone and the incredible friendships I have formed, I will always look back fondly on my memories at Deloitte University!

Cheers!
Sahil

08/06/2013

A Week in the Life of a BA, Twitter-Style - Lauren Morrell

Monday, November 7th:

  • Very productive Monday - feeling good on the drive back to the hotel. Now #ToGymOrNotToGym?
  • Planning some final details around Thursday's dinner for offerees- really excited to see it all come together and meet some future analysts!
  • Probably time to call it a night- my genius playlist keeps defaulting to Christmas music & #FallBack time change is making me #FallAsleep

Tuesday, November 8th:

1

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  • Live tweeting the NYC Marathon is pretty cool - not as cool as live tweeting my day, but pretty cool http://bit.ly/rYdoLM

 

Wednesday, November 9th:

Thursday, November 10th

  • Heads down for the next few hours to hit morning deadline
  • Thinking through turning our strategy into slides to be on point for tomorrow - tough stuff but rewarding to see the ideas come to life
  • Security line at the airport is crazy right now- happy to be 10 flights away from status #MoreMilesLessProblems
  • Quick call w/ NY manager to discuss her current projects- reminded that there's no shortage of awesome work for analysts to get involved in
  • Flight delayed 4 hours. Buying a Steelers Terrible Towel to make myself feel better #SteelTownSwag 

4

Friday, November 11th

  • Awesome dinner for candidates last night! Really fun meeting everyone- so fun that I don't have a voice today
  • Team room just paused to make 11:11 11/11/2011 wishes. Would tell everyone what mine was but then it wouldn't come true, right?
  • Burrito lunch run with my counselor - really nice to get to catch up with him #GreatGuacGreatConversation
  • Mock client interviews for Deloitte Consulting Experience Program - amazing to me how much all the participants already know #NextGeneration
  • Unfortunately its the end of my stint in the Deloitte Twitter game. Thanks to all my loyal followers-it was fun. Enjoy your #FridayFriday...

From the cornfields of Ohio to the bright lights of Manhattan - Polly Rodriguez

6358742449_cf91fa09daI attended college in the great state of O-H-I-O (sung to the tune of “Hang on Sloopy”). Our thriving metropolis in Oxford, Ohio included one brick street, lined by an assortment of fast food restaurants and bookstores. Cars were rarely seen since we could walk everywhere we needed to go, and professors usually lived on campus nearby. Oxford was small, quaint, and incredibly manageable; thus, when I learned I would be based out of the New York City office with Deloitte, I was ecstatic… and also a bit terrified.

One of my biggest fears was that I was going to end up living in a shoebox-sized apartment with a Craigslist roommate who had an ant farm and a strobe light. Luckily, that didn’t come close to happening. Not only did Deloitte create a “Moving to NYC Guide” for my incoming analyst class, but they also held three separate conference calls with the current BAs so that my incoming analyst class could ask anything that was top-of-mind. The existing BAs also distributed everyone’s contact information in advance, and polled the incoming class to see if anyone was interested in rooming together. The NYC guide included the average cost of rent in NYC and what neighborhoods they recommended. It was such a relief to have a NYC library of resources at my fingertips via Deloitte.

Another thing which was helpful for me was moving to NYC three weeks before my start date. It was wonderful to be able to settle in, explore the city and get to know my surroundings before starting work. I was able to figure out the subway system, set up my apartment, and enjoy the museums and sights before leaving for All Analyst Training.

In retrospect, moving from Oxford to New York City was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The ease of the transition is largely attributable to all of the support I had from the Deloitte analysts before my start date. Over two years later, I can happily say that I still live with my roommates from 2010, none of them have an ant farm, and I am in love with this city!

photo credit: Randy Le'Moine Photography

The Three F’s: Fears, Friends, and Philanthropy - Lauren Morrell

Rec_glb_ho_1203_loWhen I was younger, my family moved around a lot.  After a year of getting used to my school in Atlanta, we were on the road to wild, wonderful Connecticut.  After finally learning to work ya’ll into my Texan vocabulary, we were back in the New York suburbs.   Through all of these moves, my main concern was never changing teachers, getting used to a new apartment, or leaving behind my favorite local cuisine (read: corndogs); the concern was always – who in the world am I going to be friends with!?

As you can imagine, the same concerns came up when thinking about starting a brand new job as an analyst at Deloitte.  I knew I’d be coming into a class of 40 New York BAs, but I had no idea what to expect, and I had some creeping worries.  

What if – what if they think I’m not hardcore enough and... and… they steal all my pens!  Before a meeting!  What if?!  I can’t handle that!  I need pens!

Fortunately, Deloitte has a program called Giving BAAC, in which new analysts all come together the Friday before starting work and participate in a community service event.   When I joined, we went to an elementary school in the Bronx and set up a carnival for the lower grades.   I was put in the karaoke group, which largely entailed dancing around and singing “Twinkle, Twinkle” into blow up microphones to a group of 5 year olds.  While singing, laughing, and essentially making a fool of myself with a bunch of my new class, my fears were calmed.  These weren’t only smart, driven people – they were smart, driven, and fun people.   The kids at the school loved the event (despite my horrible singing), and I was extremely excited about coming back to training on Monday to get back together with the new analysts.

In the time since participating in Giving BAAC, the analysts in New York have become some of my best friends, both in and out of the office.  Whether it’s helping out with an Excel formula, planting flowers and painting pottery with middle school girls on Impact Day, or Saturday BBQs on a friend’s rooftop, they’re some of the most friendly and open people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and you’ll be comforted to know that, so far, I’ve yet to have anyone purposely steal all my pens.