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A day in the life: Consultant in Strategy & Operations with Deloitte
After a career break, Gomathi Ramanathan joined Deloitte’s Return to Work programme. Now a Consultant in Strategy & Operations, she discusses her role and how working a four day week helps her to balance life, career and family
Article written in partnership with Deloitte.
Do you have a morning routine?
It’s common practice for consulting teams to be based at the client’s office, and I usually work for about two or three clients a year, so my location changes fairly frequently. That calls for adjustments to my morning routine every few months, to fit in with the change in commute.
Generally I am up at 6:00. My three-year-old son wakes up around 6:30 and raises the frenzy level. We have breakfast at 7:00 and are out the door by 7:45. It’s absolutely critical to have buffer time, as there's always the chance I'll have to negotiate with my son to convince him that he needs to go to nursery, and not the zoo or park or steam train ride that was the highlight of last weekend.
My husband travels overseas a lot for work but, when he’s working in London, he manages the morning drop off at the nursery and I pick up our son in the evenings. On days when my other half is travelling, I need to plan on managing both the nursery drop off and the pickup in the evening.
How does your work day start?
The first thing I do is catch up on emails and plan my day out to the minutest detail. I work within project teams, so it’s not unusual to have at least two or three meetings or working sessions in a day. It’s a collaborative way of working, with lines often blurring between client teams and Deloitte teams. In between these project meetings, I work on my project deliverables.
I rely on my calendar and to do lists to make sure I have prioritised work and made progress on a daily basis. This reduces the likelihood of surprises close to deadlines. I am out of the office at 17:30 to make sure I reach my son’s nursery before their closing time.
It sounds like a busy day. Do you get any down time?
Working a four day week means I have a lot to pack in. I usually take my lunch break around 13:00. Most days do get busy, so it’s usually a working lunch at my desk. When I have time, I catch up with colleagues over lunch.
How does your role as a consultant balance with family life?
The evenings are my time to spend with my family. My son and I reach home by 18:45. We talk about his day at the nursery and play together before dinner around 19:30. I cook up a storm over the weekend, and one other day in the week, and stow away dinners for weekdays. They're precisely measured and labelled, in my usual organised style!
After dinner, cuddles and bedtime stories, the little one is off to sleep. Then it’s a quick post dinner clean up, a batch of laundry (every other day) and an hour spent surfing TV channels and catching up with my husband. Sometimes, I might do more work in the evening. I’m usually snoozing by 23:30.
What are your biggest challenges in your role as a consultant?
I think hard before taking on work and responsibilities, as I need to fit it into a four-day week. I do turn down a few social events at work. There are many good days when I achieve a desirable work-life balance. And then there are days when the terrible mum’s guilt hits me.
I work a four-day week – Monday to Thursday – with the full support of my managers. I spend Friday with my son and also get some of the weekly chores done. That way, we have quality family time over the weekend to recharge our batteries! My son really loves the time we spend together and it feels wonderful hearing him talk about it at nursery or when he has phone time with his grandparents.
What's your favourite part of your job?
I love being in consulting for the steep learning curve and challenging projects. Working with a team of dynamic and hardworking people makes everything easier. Finally, it’s great that flexible and agile working patterns are embraced at Deloitte, as it makes it so much easier to manage, and even enjoy, the juggling act of career and life. Of course, I always pray the trains are on time!
*Taken a career break of two years or more, with a background in professional services? Deloitte's award-winning Return to Work programme offers a way to re-enter the workplace through a structured 25 week internship. The current programme is open for applications.