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A Day in the Life: Kirsten Jordan, partner, human capital consultancy

5:15 a.m.: I wake up and ask myself, “What day is it…?” Is this a day that I’m driving to the client site or working from my home office? Ah, a home office day. I go up to my office and log-in. I check my calendar and e-mails to see what the day has in store. On the one hand, working from home is fantastic because I save the commute time and driving angst. On the other, it means I’m doing the juggling dance with kids and work. I have a couple of hours to start organizing the day, tackling e-mails, and working on deliverables before the kiddos wake up.

7:08 a.m.: I realize it’s past 7:00 and I haven’t heard anything from the kids. I go check on them and get them up for school. I try to use my massive amount of program management experience to influence my kids to get all their “tasks” done (e.g., eat breakfast, brush hair, shoes on, pack lunch, replace homework into backpack) before we leave for the short drive to school. You would think that elementary-age kids would intuitively be appreciative of my efforts and be keen to develop their own project plan and timeline. Ha.

7:45 a.m.: Get to school and get back home in time for an 8:00 a.m. conference call.

8:00 a.m.: Lead a scoping conference call with my primary client regarding a new initiative they are trying to plan and get funding for. We need to clearly create a current situation assessment and define the scope of what we think we will be able to accomplish. One of the key questions that I’m famous for asking is, “What does done look like?” It’s shocking how often a group of people charged with accomplishing something has not taken the time to clearly define their outcomes—much less define the metrics required to know when they have achieved them. Everyone has heard the adage, “What gets measured, gets done.” But before you can properly measure anything, you have to know what “done” is supposed to look like!

9:20 a.m.: Work on writing up some notes from the conference call to send out through e-mail to everyone who was on the call. I want to ensure that we have a reference point for how far we got. And I definitely want to avoid backsliding and re-discussing things we have agreed on when we have the next conversation on this topic.

10:45 a.m.: Leave to meet another client for lunch about additional work assisting them with change management deliverables. It’s a great lunch and we agree on the scope of the additional work. Now to finalize the timeline and to find someone who can be staffed on it.

12:30 p.m.: I spend the drive back alternating thinking about how to write-up the statement of work and singing along to the radio to keep my mind off the aforementioned tendencies to become upset at traffic and my fellow drivers.

1:10 p.m.: Make it back to my home office and plan for a 1:30 call. I remind myself that one of the pleasures of a home office is that you get to provide your own supplies and equipment. The earpiece of my headset is starting to disintegrate. Woo Hoo. A fun-time trip to the office supply big box store is in order.

1:30 p.m.: Dial into the conference call. Plan approach for an update to the executive vice-president of merchandising in preparation for his presentation to the board. Discuss the best way to simplify what needs to be communicated. I always try to approach change from a “practical and tactical” perspective. If a recommendation is too academic or “methodology-ish,” or if it is too complex, the recommendation is no good to anyone. Once the call ends, there is just enough time to start drafting the message in a storyboard format in PowerPoint—the tool no consultant can be without.

2:55 p.m.: I head over to school to pick up the kids.

3:10 p.m.: Back home. I scan e-mails quickly to make sure there isn’t anything burning. Talk to the kiddos about their day, get snacks, and get them ready for after school activities. Remind myself of the schedule for the afternoon. I’ll monitor work e-mail from my phone for the next several hours, answering questions as needed and getting back online after dinner and after the kids are in bed at 8.

8:25 p.m.: Back at the computer. I answer e-mails and work on the storyboard from earlier in the day.

9:30 p.m.: Call it quits for the day. I make sure my phone is charging and ready for tomorrow!