A day in the life of an Efficio Consultant in the Middle East
Ahmed Ben Amara
I joined Efficio a year after graduating as a Business Engineer from Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. I was introduced to Efficio through a university alumnus who had joined two years earlier. The promise of travel opportunities, an international and non-hierarchical culture and a strong team spirit made it an easy decision for me to apply for the Business Analyst role with Efficio.
I am currently working with a client in the Middle East, a region where we recently opened an office. Efficio is strengthening its Procurement and Supply Chain practice whilst continuing to develop a strong expertise in Local Content. The specificities of the region and the practice makes Efficio’s Middle Eastern vibe quite entrepreneurial. The projects here are quite different from ones within the European zone, where the usual Monday to Thursday client site visits are applicable.
Given the distance between Saudi Arabia/Abu Dhabi and London, we tend to stay in the Middle East for two weeks and then spend one week in London, working from the London office. Efficio encourages consultants to travel anywhere in the Middle East for the duration of the weekend (within reason). Such trips include skiing in Lebanon’s mountain, sunbathing in Dubai or getting lost in Istanbul’s Ottoman neighbourhoods. For me, the opportunity to travel is a hugely exciting aspect of working on projects in the region. Consultants are often tempted to stay in the area instead of coming back to London!
Here is how I would spend a typical Thursday in Riyadh:
7am: Shower and Breakfast
I usually try to be at the client site by 8.30am, therefore the team has breakfast together at 7.30am and leaves the hotel around 8.15am. Breakfast (and food in general) is really good in the region. If you’ve just started a diet, staying in the Middle East will not help!
Riyadh has a limited public transport network, therefore we exclusively use Uber to visit the client. We try to book hotels in the city centre so that the different teams within Riyadh stay together and are not too far from their respective clients.
8.30am: The client site
I arrive at client’s site between 8.15am and 8.30am. On average, we spend one hour together to discuss the day’s tasks and responsibilities - a quick team catch-up.
If there is no urgent need to meet the client, the morning is spent working on deliverables: data crunching, presentations, plan development, procurement strategies, etc.
These moments are precious since the expected quality of the deliverables is high in consulting. Client relations is a hugely important part of the role of a consultant. We should always refer to the needs of the client, reassure them that the work we’re doing is moving towards the project aims and double-check if what our team is doing is heading in the right direction for them. From working in the region, we have learnt that in the Middle East personal relationships are even more valued therefore it is a critical priority to maintain them.
In terms of dress code, consultants wear similar clothing to that of Europe: suit and tie. Local employees however wear typical middle eastern attire – ‘qamis’.
We tend to stop working around 12pm for lunch. Temperature can be high in the spring and summer months, we therefore always stay at client’s canteen for lunch!
1pm: After lunch
Most of the meetings with the team and/or client take place after lunch. As described above, it is important in the Middle East to keep the client informed about the work we are doing. It is also useful to have some validating sessions to ensure that the deliverables that are being prepared are in line with the client’s expectations.
As a team, we try to have regular working sessions together which involve brainstorming and discussions to make sure we are on the same wave length. This helps to improve the quality of the deliverables and gives a general view on everyone’s working progress. Once the meetings are conducted and the team session finished, we go back to work on deliverables, whilst also considering the outputs of the meetings and keeping in mind the upcoming deadlines.
6.30pm: To the hotel
We leave the office around 6.30pm to return to the hotel. Typically, all the consultants arrange to eat dinner together at 7.30pm. This leaves some time for each of us to rest, prepare to fly home for the weekend or go to the gym.
8.30pm: Weekend in the region!
After dinner we head to King Khalid International Airport. Many of our Efficio “travellers” have already visited many countries, which include: areas in Jordan, such as Petra and Amman; Lebanon and its capital, Beirut; Dubai – which is the standard weekend destination; Ottoman and Istanbul – to name just a few!
The opportunity to travel in the region, on top of the unusual type of project we are confronted with makes the Middle Eastern team of Efficio one of the most vibrant and exciting teams in the company!