A Slice of the Good Life: Boston Analyst

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9:30 a.m. AMR Corporate Communications Specialist Ingrid Seroppian steps into the office of Research Director of Customer Management Strategies Joanie Rufo and lets her know that one of her meetings for the afternoon has been cancelled, freeing up about 45 minutes. For Rufo, changes and alterations to her day are completely normal.

"From a pure research perspective," Rufo says, "I don't plan on getting work done when I come to the office. I really don't. If you try to say 'I'm going to get these three things done today,' unless those things are 'I'm going to try to email a client about a subject,' nine times out of ten you're not going to get that done between eight to five between these four walls."

10:07 a.m. Rufo and several of her fellow analysts attend a briefing with representatives from Adobe, who are on an East Coast swing talking about an upcoming announcement. The allotted hour slinks by as the slides wink in and out of life on the white board in the conference room. When the speaker starts to lag, dwelling on one slide too long, Rufo cuts to the quick, summarizing a point so the meeting can continue.

"Time management in a briefing with a client or potential client can be tough," Rufo says. "Sometimes they'll show up with over a hundred slides for an hour briefing and will still want the briefing to be interactive. There are times you have to be almost rude when they try to squeeze an extra ten minutes out of you, but the way our days are generally packed, that's unfair to your next meeting. Sometimes you have to stand up and shake their hand to end the meeting."

11:21 a.m. On the 6th floor of the building, sitting alone in an empty conference room, Scott is patiently waiting for the representatives from Quadstone to arrive. Scott glances at his watch for the third time in five minutes, then reaches across the table, grabs the phone, and call his voicemail. There are no messages, and no word as to why his 11 a.m. meeting hasn't shown up. By 11:30, Scott knows the meeting is a bust.

"If someone is going to cancel on me, I prefer they do it a bit ahead of time," Scott says. "You wind up blocking your day for meetings and briefings, so when you've got an hour sandwiched between a bunch of meetings there's little you can get done besides answer a couple of emails."

12:02 p.m. About 30 people sit around two large tables, most of them eating lunches of fruit, taco salads, and other neatly packaged meals. The meeting is one of AMR's Academy sessions, held every other week to help spread knowledge on a specific topic among different people in the company. Seroppian and Rufo are seated side by side listening to AMR Vice President of Outsourcing Strategies Lance Travis conduct his Outsourcing 101 presentation.

For the first 15 minutes or so Rufo and a few others scribble notes, and every so often someone on the other end of the speakerphone in the room fires a question that Travis addresses. For the most part, however, the meeting is more lecture than discussion. By about 12:20 p.m. most everyone in the room has finished lunch. Suddenly, the room is alive with debate. Opinions and jokes fly freely in the convivial, yet professional meeting.

By the time the Academy meeting is over, just before 1:00, smiles and satisfied nods are passed around. 
"Sometimes I wish we'd do more of those," Rufo comments, heading out of the meeting. "They give us a chance to tap into the expertise we've got right here in the office."

2:10 p.m. Scott and another analyst, Ryan Garvey, are in Scott's office listening to a public relations representative from Keynote via speakerphone. The PR rep is trying to explain to them why this is a nonbriefing briefing. The reason, he says, is that the person who knew the most about what the group was supposed to cover during the meeting is at jury duty that day, and AMR's main contact at Keynote on this matter had been laid off the previous Friday, leaving a big gap in communication.

So as the Keynote rep struggles to find answers to questions he can't answer, Scott attempts to steer him in the right direction. Unfortunately for everyone on the call, Scott can't get a word in edgewise. Just as Scott is about to make a point the Keynote rep goes off on a tangent that sounds like he's reading from a press release.

Tapping the mute button on the phone, Scott and Garvey lament their poor luck. Scott calls his day a train wreck, then taps off the mute button. After half an hour of letting the caller ramble, they agree to set up another call later, when the necessary expert will be available.

"Some days you know that you're not going to get any real work done in the office," Scott says. "Any real writing you need to get done you'll get done at home."

Scott will spend the rest of his day trying to catch up on emails and meeting with other AMR analysts on current projects. Besides a quick email alert that he may send out, most of his research writing will be done at home after his daughter is put to bed and while the Boston Bruins are on the television in the background. 
"I need a little bit of noise, a little distraction when I write," Scott says. "It helps me to 

3:30 p.m. Rufo is about to enter her last meeting of the day. And given the hectic pace of her day, she hopes that this meeting will be a fruitful one.

"Sometimes you go into a meeting and it's completely draining," Rufo says. "You can get clients who have you for an hour who say, 'OK, tell us everything you know about SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Siebel in an hour' and that's impossible."

Impossible or not, it's part of an average day for the staff at AMR.

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