Week in the life of a Principal Consultant
I’m currently a Principal Consultant here at PPL so in addition to my work with clients, I’m also part of PPL’s management team. I joined in 2014 as an Analyst after finishing my MSc in Management. Consulting seemed like a great opportunity to try new things and challenge myself and PPL was a perfect fit since I was intrigued by the challenge of improving healthcare. Things gelled for me and I’ve been here ever since!
No two weeks are the same, which is the part of the fun of being a consultant, however I’ll talk you through a recent week to give you an idea of my role as a Principal Consultant.
I am the account manager for a number of projects in across the Home Counties and South West London, so I head down on Monday morning to meet our clients and the wider project team to discuss priorities for the week and manage our tasks. Each project has its own flavour but together they’re transforming the way that local residents receive care while also helping organisations make a bigger impact and become more sustainable.
After we discuss immediate priorities, I try to get a better understanding of the clients’ longer-term ambitions and how we can support these moving forwards. These one-on-one discussions with them allow me to act as an advisor that they can trust and rely on.
We also have PPL’s management team meetings on Monday (I’ll dial in when I’m on client site). This meeting is my chance to get an overview of what’s happening across the company and to voice my opinions on how we can move forwards. We talk about the current projects and potential opportunities for new work. Once a month, we focus on the PPL team and discuss how the company can support people to grow as consultants. This is a real passion of mine and I’m really pleased about how much PPL prioritises it.
I’m also part of a project team working in South London to advise the local GP Federations on what their future operating model should be. Today I’m developing an Excel model to help them prioritise what they want in their future Federation and to track the costs and workforce involved. I’ll also walk over from our office in Bermondsey to show them how the tool works and to get their thoughts on how we can better shape it to meet their needs.
In the afternoon, I’ve got an exciting meeting with a healthcare start-up that has had success in Europe and wants to work with PPL to enter the UK market. As the lead for PPL’s social entrepreneurship business area, I’m looking to understand how we can partner with start-ups to improve innovation within the public sector. My conversation today was insightful and, after sharing our experiences, we both feel we’d be a good fit. The next step for me is to detail what a combined offering will be for our clients and test the market to see if it’s something they’re interested in!
The middle of the week is a good opportunity for me to link in with both sets of clients and give them an update on how we’re doing. I start by speaking with the two project teams and getting an update from them, guiding them where I can. Once I’m comfortable with the progress we’ve made, I’ll relay the information to the clients by phone or email. I’ll also occasionally attend the clients’ senior level meetings to better understand the strategic context within which our projects sit.
At the end of the day I meet up with the Analyst I manage to see how she’s getting along. We talk about the projects she’s on, any difficulties she’s having, and create strategies to help her move forward. We also look at her six-month objectives to make sure she’s getting the opportunities she needs to develop as a consultant and meet her own ambitions. As her manager (or people manager as we call them here at PPL), I’m responsible for more than just her performance on projects, so we also talk about what she wants to get out of consulting and PPL, and make sure that she feels properly supported and able to do her best at work.
Once we wrap up our meeting, we head over to the pub where we join the rest of the PPL team for our monthly team drinks. It’s a great chance to meet up with colleagues who have been out on client sites over a good spread of food and a few laughs.
I hold my X-Forces mentoring every second Thursday for an hour with my mentee. X-Forces is one of PPL’s many charity partners. They connect ex-service members and their families who are looking to start or grow their businesses with mentors who can help them do so. With entrepreneurship is a passion of mine, I definitely find these sessions at least as fun and useful as she does. We talk about her strategies, questions and the actions she can focus on for the next fortnight.
I spend the rest of the day ensuring that the projects that I am part of are ticking along. This includes creating a pack that summarises the progress being made at a strategic level and linking this into the wider work being done in the area. Since this pack will be used by Chief Executives of the different organisations, it’s important to get the tone and the messaging right so I find it an interesting challenge.
For my London client, I work to translate the vague guidance that has come out of NHS England into actionable steps by creating an easy to use ‘maturity matrix’ where they can see how ready they are for the changes expected.
I try and make sure I’m in the office on Fridays because they is usually something going on involving the whole team! Once a month, we have our team meeting where our founders Simon and Claire give us an update on how PPL is doing and what we’ll be focusing on in the upcoming month. We also give the spotlight to a particular project, where the project team update us on the work they’re doing.
Alternatively, it might be our monthly training sessions (which we call How we Learn). Even though I’ve been in consulting for over four years now, I still pick up some great insights around the topic of the month, and it feels good to be able to give practical advice for newer colleagues during the conversations.
We also have family lunch once a month on Fridays. We order food into the office and take an hour so to kick back with colleagues (the local Sri Lankan is definitely the office favourite)!
I end the week by filling in my timesheets, sending out progress reports to my clients and sending out any last emails before I close my laptop at 5pm and join my colleagues at the pub for a well-deserved drink before the weekend.
Career progression at PPL
PPL has helped me to progress my career quite a bit! My path from Analyst to Principal Consultant has genuinely been a journey of self-discovery (cliché but true). I’ve had an incredible amount of support in finding out what I was interested in. I’ve also had the opportunities to learn a wider skillset and have not been pigeonholed into data analysis. PPL has understood my career ambitions and supported me to build towards them through my work.