Updated: Nov 25, 2019
In this series of Time Management Masterminds, I interview professional leaders to understand the time management techniques they use to overcome their daily challenges. In today’s interview, you will learn from Vincent Kasbi how to fish.
Vincent is leading the Asia office of a Management Consulting firm. He oversees a team of 70 consultants operating from Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. He directly manages 10 direct reports. He is based in Hong Kong. He travels 20% of his time. Vincent doesn’t have any assistant. He is the father of 3 daughters.
Vincent, what does time management evoke to you?
VK: Time management is essential for consultants since we need to juggle between our time on the ground with our clients and the time we allocate to internal tasks. This is even more challenging considering that the life of a consultant is full of surprises (a proposal to submit for the following day, a client cutting a budget etc.). It is obvious that some individuals have better time management skills than others who are always behind.
"Consultants juggle between time on the ground with clients and time allocate to internal tasks"
Can you talk about the way you manage meetings?
VK: I spend around 70% of my time in meetings. Since my direct reports manage their projects directly, a large part of my meetings is internal, either to review project progress, provide feedback on pitch and proposals, work on business development or recruit new joiners. I am conscious that I have many meetings and I would like to reduce the length of internal ones to 45 minutes each.
Reduce length of internal meeting to 45 minutes each
Do you have to work from home?
VK: Every consultant is equipped with a laptop and the necessary tools. It is easy for us to work from home. Personally, I am used to resume work in the evening after having diner with my family. I also spend some time to work on tasks that require time or quietness during the weekend when I am alone at home with fewer distractions.
What about your emails? Do you have any principle?
VK: I have 2 principles when considering emails:
I try to read my emails one time only
My inbox is empty at the end of the day
I receive around 250 emails every day (I checked before we met). I check my emails on a regular basis in order to make sure I do not miss any important information. When an email requires a quick action, I manage this action immediately otherwise I add the action to my to do list and when needed in my calendar.
This is a good transition. Can you talk to us about your to do list?
VK: I have a To Do list. This is a word document that I have been using since my first job. There are a few pages in chronological order. I also use color code to classify the actions (by thematic or importance). Since I visit clients every day, my to do list is the tool I use to plan where and when I will manage my tasks.
Do you have any advice you can share with us in term of time management?
VK: I would use a proverb to illustrate my belief. Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. The link to time management may not appear that obvious. But consider that as the head of a consulting firm, I need to delegate more in order to free up more time, which requires that I empower my team and help them to learn to do what I am doing. My advice would be to train your team well to be able to delegate more tasks and therefore free up some time.
Do you have any morning routine?
VK: I wake up early and have a breakfast with my daughters from 7:00am to 7:30am. Once they leave for school, I start my day by checking my outlook and send emails that I want people to read. I believe that chances are higher for an email to be read if you send it early in the morning. People are more reactive in the morning and the email appears on top of their inbox. Once I am done with emails, I work on tasks requiring more focus. I avoid meetings before 10am.
Chances are higher for an email to be read if you send it early in the morning
What about your lunch?
VK: I usually have 1 or 2 business lunch by week and 1 or 2 lunch with consultants. I do my best to eat healthy meals and avoid junk food.
Thanks Vincent, do you also practice sport?
VK: My weekday schedule is packed and it’s hard for me to practice sport as I would like during the week. Nevertheless, I try and play tennis every Monday night, I go to the Gym every Saturday and I play football every Sunday.
Interview Vincent Kasbi, 22th October 2019, Hong Kong