Managing your first engagement

By Hammad Siddiqui

Business Analyst, Consulting | Summer 2014 Co-op

You have just completed your on-boarding and you’re working your way through your new hire checklist when you receive a long awaited email from your Resource Manager. That’s right; you have just been assigned your first project. Everything is great and before you know it, you are walking into the client site. This experience will be exciting and demanding, so use these five tips to make your first client engagement less stressful and help you become an integral part of your team.

1. Meet with your project manager

Your project manager will be the busiest individual on your team. Your first day is your best chance to spend a few minutes with them and get to know all the ins and outs of the project. Be sure to ask them to describe the project’s scope and their expectations from you. This is also a great time to set up a follow-up meeting with them (a week or so down the road).

2. Gain access to printers and all appropriate documents

At some point you’ll be asked to create a document or run an analysis on data that requires information found elsewhere. Most of this information is saved on Microsoft SharePoint or Deloitte’s e-room. It is your responsibility to ensure you have sufficient access, but you can ask a team member if you need help. Oh, and don’t forget to add the client’s network printer, you’ll need it sooner rather than later.

3. Learn your way around the office

There is nothing worse than getting lost at the client site. The easiest way around this is to ask someone who has a few minutes to show you around. Knowing your way around will make you significantly more comfortable on your first day, as you’ll likely be called into a meeting in a different room with only a minute’s notice.

4. Request feedback

The best way to develop your skills and ensure you’re meeting expectations is to request routine feedback. Not only can you connect with your managers this way but it is also a great opportunity to offer help and call dibs on upcoming tasks. One important note, make sure to send a meeting request through Outlook to block time in your manager’s calendar or you will find yourself rescheduling your meeting due to their busy schedules.

5. Brush up on your Excel and PowerPoint skills

As an analyst, Excel and PowerPoint will become your two best friends. Brush up on key functions in Excel such as vlookup, countif(s), pivot tables, basic macros and cell/table formatting and always ensure that your excel worksheets are presentable. You will be asked to share your screen when you least expect it. Also, learn to merge excel tables into PowerPoint; often times you will be extracting key insights from Excel into a client presentation deck.

At the end of the day, your first client engagement will be a whirlwind of activity and you will be caught up in a dozen tasks at once. It’s a time you will never forget. Just remember to embrace it, take a deep breath and hit the ground running. And know that your project team is always there if you get stuck or have any questions.


Hammad is entering his fourth year of university at Richard Ivey School of Business majoring in a Honors Bachelor of Business Administration.

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