Learn more about the role of a principal here at Parthenon by following, Jess, a principal and 2007 graduate of the Harvard Business School and 2003 graduate of Wellesley College, through a day in her life.
A Day in the Life of a Parthenon Principal
First alarm goes off and I roll over.
Second alarm goes off and I roll the other way.
The third and last alarm goes off and I pull myself out of bed for the day. In the mornings, I’m always thankful that I live a 5 minute walk from the office so that I have time for about 15 lattes from my new machine before heading in. More is always better.
Depending on pedestrian traffic, I arrive sometime between 8:57 and 9:01a.m. every morning and settle into another cup of coffee from either our Keurig machine or the new espresso machine on the 12th floor. When my hands stop shaking, I launch my email and see what I have on my plate for the day.
I meet one of my teams (we are almost always staffed on two projects at a time) in conference room Persephone. Since we are The Parthenon Group, someone thought to name our conference rooms after all of the Greek gods. It’s cute until you show up in Athena instead of Apollo or Aphrodite for the third time in a week. In the meeting, the team is discussing the final board presentation for our client, a manufacturer of document imaging software. Simply put, the client makes software that allows you to scan a document to email. This case has been going on for three months and is drawing to a close, so this meeting is really about taking all of the analysis we have conducted over the past three months and synthesizing it into key recommendations.
We’re still in the conference room debating the merits of various recommendations and trying to figure out the best way to implement each of them. Everyone has an opinion and the brainstorming pushes the team’s thinking in new directions. The process is exhausting but fun.
The meeting has finally wrapped up and we have developed a plan for our clients requiring a shift in strategy. Any major strategic change requires a good deal of consensus building with the clients so that they are excited about the new strategy and engaged in its implementation. The next week will be spent meeting with various members of their team to get buy in.
With the board presentation well on its way, I’m off to lunch. Usually a bunch of the principals grab lunch together and bring it to our lunch room on the 15th floor, where, on good days, Maury Povich is playing on our flat screen T.V. The lunch room is always packed with people from across the firm, making it a great opportunity to build relationships. The partners even join in the fun – everyone loves a little Maury.
After lunch, I turn my attention to my "other side,” a case for a publishing company that has asked us to develop a new business model for its International Division. This case is a development opportunity for me as I get to set the direction of the work for the whole project instead of just a workstream. It is a brand new project, so I start by writing an overview of case objectives, the activities necessary to achieve those objectives and our final deliverables.
Armed with the case objectives and deliverables, I write a work plan, detailing how the associate and I will spend the next four weeks of our lives. Our associates are incredibly driven and intelligent, which can lead to its own set of managerial challenges. I am forced to think upfront about the types of work and analysis they need to be given ownership of in order to have a good experience on the case.
My friend and pod mate, Brian, and I go to the kitchen for our 100th cup of coffee of the day. With coffee in hand, we are joined in a conference room by two classmates for some quality catching up. These impromptu coffee chats with the other Principals are not only a way to blow off steam, but they are also a good source of information on how to approach challenges at work.
I have submitted my overview of case objectives and my work plan to the partner for review (normally it would go to a senior principal, but this case is uniquely staffed) so I begin working on interview guides for a series of discussions with our client’s sales force and some of their distributors.
I get an email from the senior principal on my scanning software case with slide edits for the board presentation. I save my interview guides and begin sorting through the new edits to see what I’ll tackle and what should go to the associate.
After sending the associate her slides, I turn to updating some market share analysis that I am responsible for.
My edits are made and I have proofed the associate’s work, so I send the slides to the senior principal and turn to scheduling meetings for my publishing case.
I go to the gym to run like a hamster on its wheel since it’s winter in Boston and about 20 degrees outside. But with the cold comes the Bruins and the Celtics! The company has luxury boxes at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, the Pavilion and the TD Banknorth Garden that employees throughout the firm can use. About once a week there is a lottery that we can enter to win tickets and it is not unusual to come out a winner (especially if you like the Bruins!).
I arrive home and put dinner on the stove while I talk to my husband, who travels for his job Monday through Thursday, on the phone.
After dinner, I spend some time turning comments from the partner on the overview of objectives from my publishing case. We will be sharing the slides with the client in two days.