By Ammar Bahrani, Chicago
During your career at Protiviti, you will work for a vast array of clients that require our various services. When it comes to lasting memories though, your first client will always stick out the most. Whether it is short or long in length or your team is small or large, your first client is one for the books. My first client engagement was definitely one to remember. I had just returned from The Consultant Challenge and remember sitting in the office constantly refreshing my schedule in PeopleSoft, wondering where my first client would take me. Just as I started to pack up for the day, I noticed I received an email from Kelly Riely in Resource Management. The subject of the email was the client’s name and included in the body were just a few short sentences, which would later reveal the next eight months of my time with Protiviti.
”Ammar, Please arrive by 8:30 and call Brad at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Brad is one of our Supply Chain Directors. There is a team of about 8 people out there right now. This should be a very interesting project and might require some overtime. Directions to the client site are below. Please let me know if you have questions.”
Immediately, my mind started spinning with questions; and although I was a bit overwhelmed, I could not help but be incredibly excited. I was a brand new Consultant, who was ready to learn. My first client was a manufacturing and distribution company that owns many warehouses throughout the country. They manufacture paint and distribute products such as electrical and plumbing supplies, garden equipment, hand tools, house wares, and power tools.
Protiviti initially went into this engagement to offer a proposal for Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance, as the client looked to convert from a cooperative to a publicly traded company. After deploying a few employees to gather financial statements from the previous five years, the team identified an accounting error of many millions of dollars that were unknown at the time. After three months of hard work and long hours exuberated by our resources from Chicago, New York, LA, Dallas, and Houston offices, we helped the client identify root causes for the accounting error.
My role in the initial phase of the engagement was to assist with determining the root causes that created the discrepancy. This phase required the team to test different reports and processes to identify issues for why inventory was not being accounted for completely and accurately. Although this phase required some overtime hours, it provided both my fellow new hire Consultants and I with a great opportunity. We were able to get our hands dirty and build our knowledge of the retail industry and Protiviti methodologies with just a few months on the job. Not to mention, we were also able to come together as a team and bond amongst other new hires, upper management and our client.
After completing the investigation phase, I was fortunate to stay on for the remediation segment of the assignment. This period consisted of correcting the issues related to the processes that were identified as the root causes of the discrepancy. This was my favorite part of the project, as it provided me with the opportunity to work with a team in a consulting capacity and advise the client on how they can improve their processes and reduce financial risks.
My last piece of involvement on the assignment consisted of training the client personnel on how to conduct the processes according to the newly implemented responsibilities. I appreciated being on this project – it provided me the opportunity to work with great people and see the “full picture.”
Everyone’s first engagement can differ vastly based on the type of client, the project and your specific role; however all of these new experiences will begin to prepare you for the work ahead during your first year at Protiviti.