A Day in the Life of Domitille
Domitille is a French consultant based in our Paris office, where she leads strategy projects related to defense systems markets such as C4ISR, cyber and defense electronics. She joined Avascent in 2016, after having worked as a research analyst at the NATO Office of the Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy of the French Ministry of Defense. Domitille holds a master’s degree in international security as well as a bachelor’s degree in political science from Sciences Po Paris.
Walk to the office in the center of Paris, trying to pretend there’s no pollution, no tourists, no rain, but only nice buildings and a cliché smell of bread in the streets.
Take advantage of time difference (1-hour with the UK-based analysts or project directors, 6-hours with Washington-based analysts staffed on the project), to focus on project planning items requiring the most concentration.
As a consultant you usually have a “hybrid” role in the firm, where you have to either serve as the project manager or as a more autonomous team member on fast-paced projects where more staff is needed. In both cases, I try to use geographic distance as an advantage to get the most pressing things done before the rest of the team is awake and working.
Make sure that both London-based and Paris-based team members know what their priorities should be for the day or week, and that clear deadlines are set for the main project. This can include emails, Skype calls and ideally in-person brainstorming.
If I’m serving as a team member on another project at the same time, I’d typically establish a clear plan for myself so that both projects’ deadlines are met in the smoothest way possible.
By the end of the morning, everything should be in order to ensure the rest of day is spent in the most efficient way possible: templates done, key research questions identified and shared with the team, potential check-in meetings with the team or key advisors, and workplan organized for the upcoming days.
Smoothly start working on identified priorities with a post-lunch coffee.
Skype call with the team, with the possibility to include the US-based analysts (who are now fully awake!), to coordinate on what has been done, what kind of narrative is emerging through the research tasks, and share potential roadblocks to brainstorm on the best ways to overcome them.
As a small team in Paris, we are all involved in a few administrative and recruiting tasks, which we usually tackle whenever possible during the week. For me this could include giving the case interview to a candidate. Middle of the day could also be a good time for another project’s client call!
Call project director while the rest of the team keeps researching to get senior buy-in on key messages, work share, and even the overall visual and template. I would usually leverage one-to-one discussions with the project director to discuss the most challenging topics (e.g., unavailable data and information, conflicting projects’ deadlines, team members’ constraints) and get their opinion on proposed solutions.
Go back to work: share Project Director’s input with individual team members as necessary, refine templates integrating comments, craft new slides to integrate new ideas.
End of day pretty is project-dependent, but would typically include a final email to the team to make sure they know exactly what to focus on when they’re back to the office the next morning (nothing worse than an empty morning and a too-full afternoon/evening!).
If part of the team is in DC, I would likely call them directly to see what can be done by their end-of-day to help overcome some identified challenges before the European team is back to work the next day. Basically: anything that can be done to make time difference your friend is ideal!
Get some fresh water (ok or beer, or wine…!) with colleagues to share current projects’ challenges/funny stories, but also to help each other by giving outsider perspectives on any questions or challenges they’re facing.