Interview with Alumni SBS Consulting, Ernst & Young Project Manager Ekaterina Glazova
Ekaterina: It happened by chance. During my studies at HSE, I took part in a business contest. I enjoyed solving complex problems, where one has to think, analyze information and be able to make decisions quickly. Joining SBS Consulting was an even bigger coincidence. My supervisor was acquainted with Vladimir Samokhvalov. When we discussed possible employment options after my bachelor's degree with her, she advised me to go to SBS. I went through all the stages and received an offer. When I joined the company, I was ready to start with anything. That’s exactly how I said it: ”I really want to learn a lot, I'm ready to take on any tasks!”.
Ekaterina: The first realization came after a year of work. And the last was when I realized for sure that consulting was meant for me, about a year and a half ago.
Ekaterina: Yes. I’ve been working in this field for 9 years.
Ekaterina: Yes. I’ve seen other people taking consulting as their starting point. In this field, one can relatively quickly gain different competencies and work on many different projects in many industries in a short time period. Afterwards, you can just choose what suits you most and go to an industry as an expert.
Ekaterina: At one point I thought, why would I look for something else if I already like what I’m doing every day? An industry may get into stagnation stage. In contrast, I like consulting projects for being dynamic and complex, no matter the workload, the project has to be completed on time. That always spurs. The last realization of the choice was a year and a half ago when I decided to continue my career specifically in consulting.
Ekaterina: It is necessary to have an analytical mindset, be able to count a lot and draw conclusions. I have come across such projects, so it was important for me. Structuring helps break the tasks into blocks, set priorities and work with quality step by step without missing any details. It is also very important to be proactive and enthusiastic in the early stages of your career. Now that I’m a manager I spot when a person has “glowing eyes”. They are ready to take any job, they like it and they want to grow. This approach encourages both me and the company to support this person, share experience and invest in them. I see interest and response to what we do for a common goal of a project. Communication skills are very important in more senior positions. We, consultants, are very client-oriented. Consulting is an industry that makes projects for clients. It is very important to establish good communication within the team and with the client. Therefore, I think these are the key principles.
Ekaterina: My path was standard in consulting. I came as an intern, then became an analyst, a senior analyst and got a position as a consultant. Eventually, when I was leaving, I was a senior consultant. There were very different projects, very different tasks in completely different industries. There were a lot of interesting experiences.
Ekaterina: There were various projects that I still recall. One of them is a project in Kazakhstan. It still seems to me that if a consultant did not go to Kazakhstan on a business trip for a project, this is not a real consultant. Because at that time almost all the consultants went to this country for some project. There were a lot of things to do. We were optimizing working capital. The project was short and very intensive. The second project I would like to mention is the one we did under the energy efficiency program for the Ministry of Energy. There was an atypical and unusual task for consultants — the organization of a forum on energy efficiency.
Ekaterina: Yes, there were several thousand visitors in three days. The SBS Consulting team was responsible for organizing the business program, coordinating the topics of the round tables that we considered important for discussion. That was great! I really liked the irregular nature of the tasks. One of my vivid memories is the first day of the conference. I stood in the Gostiny Dvor and realized my contribution to this grand event to taking place and everything going perfectly. Everything was on a high level. What else was important for my growth at SBS? Of course, the fact that the partners themselves participated in the projects a lot and set us tasks. We had project managers, but their duties were often undertaken by the partners. They taught us to do our job correctly and gave us a huge experience. That’s really great. It seems to me that one of the advantages of SBS Consulting is that you interact with the partner every day. You discuss project issues with them, they guide you and set you tasks. This affects development nicely.
Ekaterina: The majority of projects at SBS are the ones that the partners actually want to do and want to have results. It’s not the projects just to get people busy. Here everyone is responsible to produce high-quality work for the client. This way, the clients will be willing to collaborate again and take long-term projects. This is a very good motivation to move forwards.
Ekaterina: I think it was the trust in the team and the amount of responsibility I was given. I had an understanding that I was responsible for my contribution to a project and I couldn’t let people down. Such a responsibility allows a worker to grow fast and make cool, interesting stuff. The manager knows: if I take a certain job, I will complete it. And the result will be as good as it possibly can be.
Ekaterina: I am convinced, the key to success is interest. You have to like what you do. You have to come to work mostly with the desire to do something cool. It encourages you to grow further. Sometimes I see people not like what they do. They start being down at work and lose interest. So the key is to find what you like and cultivate it. A job must “drive” and inspire you.
Ekaterina: As far as I remember, I didn’t have any projects. From time to time I would have some tasks or help other teams. And that is when I got offered an external project, which I went to. I got interested because it was a complex, multitask project for a year.
Ekaterina: Indeed. I’ve worked as a freelance employee for three and a half years. I can fully evaluate all the advantages and disadvantages in terms of freelance.
Ekaterina: Many people think that working as a freelance consultant looks like laying on a sunbed with a laptop by the sea. That’s not true. It is just the same as working on a project in a company. You sit in the client’s office or somewhere else doing just the same job. On one hand, freelance allows you to choose whether you want to work on a project or deny it. On the other hand, you never know when will you have your next job or whether you will get one at all. This instability makes you work really hard so they invite you to participate in later projects if you do a great job. This is your big growth point because there is no partner or manager behind you. You are on your own.
Ekaterina: Yes. You take all the responsibility for the work you produce. This is a big way out of the comfort zone. But it is also a very good teacher in terms of self-organization and how quickly you acquire the skills and knowledge to do completely different projects. Freelancing is very interesting, but sometimes it is uncertain.
Ekaterina: Now I work as a project manager in Ernst & Young retail sector. We help improve the efficiency of various retail companies in the FMCG sector. I like retailing business. In my opinion, there are three key sectors with big data. The first one is retail, where every check transaction that takes place on the network is visible. The other one is banks, where every transaction can be seen by a client’s card. The third one is telecommunications, where one can see what a person does, what data they exchange and so on. For me, retail is a simple and clear industry that you encounter every day. My first retail project was together with SBS Consulting on describing business processes for the largest retailer. It was a great opportunity to understand how the network works from the inside. I am very grateful to SBS for the cooperation on this project and the experience gained. Later on, I took part in other similar projects. I joined Ernst & Young retail sector with a clear understanding that this is the most interesting industry for me at the moment, it has great opportunities and I want to develop here.
Ekaterina: My work-life balance always shifts towards “work”. I seek to learn to control that, but I guess I’m not an expert in this question.
Ekaterina: I try to go on trips. It is always refreshing, emotional and new. The more novelties you encounter the more knowledge and understanding you get, your perception of the world changes. Therefore, I try to go somewhere and see something new.
Ekaterina: No matter how cliché this sounds, I would say it is the ability to find joy in every day. I rather value the result rather than the process and that is something I try to overcome. It gives much more pleasure for me to see the result. I run for a long time, then I reach the finish line and enjoy the fact that I reached finish for five minutes. However, now I am learning to take pleasure of the running process itself too. Happiness from a result only lasts for five minutes, whereas the joy from a process can last much longer.
Ekaterina: Indeed, this uses up a lot of time and resources. That is why it is important to genuinely enjoy the process. This means being at the right place, doing the right thing, what you enjoy and where you would like to grow.
Ekaterina: I would like to learn more about retailing business and study how it functions. We have many projects that are aimed at creating tools based on big data analysis. This is a big trend right now. People talk a lot about it, though there are only a few impressive success stories about results from implementing big data analysis. We also work on it within the company, so this is an option for my future development. The quality and results gained from analytics are impressive. It is very cool and I believe that’s what the future stands by.
Ekaterina: Yes, it is very demanded by our clients. In particular, retailing business with huge amounts of data. It can be analyzed and new systems can be built based on it. You can create useful tools and make decisions based on deep data analysis. Everybody wants to employ Big Data because it’s trendy and cool. Everyone understands the potential effect of it. In reality, it’s very vague. There aren’t a lot of companies that work with it and are actually capable of producing a quality solution.
Ekaterina: My position here is simple. Whenever you leave, do it in a good way, so that you can come back later. I’m very happy with how it worked out with SBS Consulting. If I have a question and I want to get advice, I can always ask my colleagues and they will help. And if I can help with anything or share anything I will always do it with great pleasure. Not only was SBS my first job, but it is also a concentration of human relations. This includes my partners Vladimir Samokhvalov and Evgeny Nekrashevich, with whom we have worked on a few projects together. This is very important for me, not so much professionally as humanly. It is very nice to have the Club Alumni in SBS and the traditions to conduct meetings with the company’s graduates. This is an opportunity to communicate, perform as an expert, help with projects and pose important queries.
Ekaterina: It is growth! In my case for sure. It was the first step on this long journey in consulting world. Also, SBS is a team; where people trust and rely on others around.
Ekaterina: New interesting projects for the entire team and the results they want to achieve.