A week in the McK life: Ellen

Ellen, an engagement manager with our EMEA Operations practice, based in Munich, describes one of her typical weeks supporting multiple teams, helping clients to make some energizing discoveries, and enjoying time with her family.


Monday. The radio song waking me up at 6:00am – the Felix Jaehn remix of “Cheerleader” – will stay in my head for the rest of the day. I get up and get ready. Meanwhile, my spouse wakes up our two-year–old daughter who then drinks her milk in our bed and tries to get dressed. Two weeks ago, she started insisting “I can get dressed on my own, Mommy.” Our au pair prepares breakfast for us. We eat together before my husband brings the little one to nursery and goes to work himself; the au pair takes the bus to her language class; and I go to the airport to head to my client’s location.

My team is running a large procurement transformation, covering all spend categories sequentially. After touching base with each other once we land and assemble at the client site, we have several meetings with category managers to prepare for the weekly progress meeting with the chief procurement officer (CPO) on Tuesday. The most recent comprehensive clean sheet analysis showed some interesting potential to be discussed with suppliers and we’re all excited to dig into the opportunities more.

Tuesday. Our meeting goes well; my role is to facilitate the lively discussion. We assess the pros and cons of different approaches we could take with suppliers. I help to steer the group towards consensus about our priorities. The CPO is pleased with the final recommendations. We capture the results in our project plan and align on next steps.

In the evening, I fly to Greece to support a separate team's client training the next day. In the hotel lobby, I meet one of my colleague to finalize some of the materials. The client is a consumer goods primary packaging organization. The session will be about design to value and material (cost) optimization potential and several representatives from various parts of the company – including marketing, logistics, procurement, research & design and finance – will attend. We’re planning to tear apart a few of our client’s and its competitor’s products.

Wednesday. I am thrilled and full of energy after the workshop. Witnessing departmental silos breaking up over joint problem solving on how to improve and beat the competition is always fantastic. I love those moments when people realize opportunities because their colleagues help them see things from different perspectives.

On the way to the airport, I call my team; we agree to set up a negotiation day for the client’s suppliers of industrial cleaning services. We recently finished a comparison of service costs across several of the client’s production facilities and realized that there was a lot of variation and some huge opportunity to reduce overall spend.

I arrive home just in time to spend the evening at a dinner with my spouse and friends while our au pair babysits.

Thursday. I work from home on Thursday and spend most of the day on the phone, talking with my clients and team members. After a call with a potential candidate who I’m encouraging to apply for our operations service line, I pick up my daughter from nursery and we spend the time before dinner with friends. After my daughter is in bed, I review the draft of a category strategy document one of my team’s associate prepared and sent.

Friday. I work part-time, so Friday I get to spend the day with my daughter. We both love to be outside. We visit the playground to seesaw, swing and play in the sandbox, then walk to a nearby lake to feed some ducks. In the evening my spouse and I go to our weekly dance class while our au pair babysits. My week closes like it began – this week, our dance instructor mixes a cha–cha to “Cheerleader.”

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