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A Day in The Life

Emma Holland, Operations Analyst

Washington, D.C.

6:06 a.m. (EST)

I’m awoken by a loud “MEOWW” in my left ear. I turn to my left and open one eye, begrudgingly. Goose, my one-year-old, recently adopted rescue cat, stands atop my side table with her face about 6 inches from mine. I grunt and turn over to my right side away from her, shutting my eyes once again. Not seconds later, I hear another “MEOW,” this time from above. I slowly open my eyes again, watching as Goose tiptoes across the top of my bed frame. Given her very ungraceful nature, she slips on the metal frame, her paw landing straight onto my boyfriend Max’s face. He lets out a frustrated, “GOOSE!” I pop up out of bed, and she has yet again managed to wake me up just 9 minutes before my alarm. Ugh.

6:10 a.m.

Goose eats her Friskies, and I turn on the Keurig. I brew myself a coffee, and then another to put in the fridge for when Max awakes, since he likes his coffee iced. By now, Goose has slurped up the last of her breakfast, and lets out another “MEOW” as she runs down the hallway, playing with her new ping pong ball. Max and I recently found out that Goose is infatuated with ping pong balls. So, naturally, I ordered 12 off Amazon (for only $3.99! I love a good deal!). Does Goose need 12? Definitely not. Will we lose 10 of them within the month even though we live in a 700-square-foot apartment? Absolutely. 

7:06 a.m.

I’ve eaten breakfast and gotten dressed and I’m on my way out the door. I take the elevator down to the lobby, say good morning to the concierge, and head out on my way to the Navy Yard metro station for my morning commute. Max and I originally moved to Navy Yard so that we could catch Washington Nationals games on a moment’s notice (it’s less than a 5-minute walk!). As a former Division I baseball player, baseball is Max’s first love. Now as a Nationals Intern, he has the commute of a lifetime! 

7:11 a.m.

I’ve just hopped on the green line toward Greenbelt. At this time in the morning, the green line is busier than one might think. It seems everyone had the same idea of getting an early start to miss the morning rush hour, which could add another 10-20 minutes onto my commute. I ride the Greenbelt for two stops and exit the train amongst many others determined to make their metro connection at the bustling L’Enfant Plaza station. I join the crowd in a run-walk to the platform below, hoping to make a quick connection to the silver line toward Ashburn.

7:24 a.m.

Score! I’ve timed it just right. I find a seat on the train, pop in my earphones, play the most recent episode of my favorite true-crime podcast, Crime Junkie, and lock in.

7:57 a.m.

The metro rolls into Tysons station, and I exit along with a few others, whom I presume are headed to start their shifts at the Tysons Corner Mall or maybe the Ernst & Young Offices, located right next door. The walk takes me less than 5 minutes to the Red Cell office, from the metro platform up to the 9th floor of the building.

8:05 a.m.

I chat with Paris, Red Cell’s Office Manager, and ask how her morning’s going, as she tends to get to the office early to restock the many snacks and beverages that keep the Red Cell team refreshed and enlivened throughout the day. She tells me she’s doing well, but that she could use a hand restocking the cupboard. At 6 feet, with frighteningly long limbs, I am the go-to person for reaching high spaces. 

8:15 a.m.

I take a seat at one of the desks in the SAR, the ‘Situation Awareness Room,’ the largest space in the Red Cell office. I prefer to do most of my work in the SAR, as I consider it to be the most central space in the office. Most of the team members who are local tend to work in or around the SAR, so I enjoy the scattered conversations I get to have with them as they settle into the workday. But at this early hour, I decide to take advantage of the quietest time in the office. I open my computer and begin to orientate myself for the day ahead. 

8:30 a.m.

I’ve just finished reading through my emails, so I open up ClickUp, my team’s primary project management tool. I scroll through my own task list, reminding myself of my ongoing responsibilities and prioritizing which tasks are most important to complete today. I write down my highest priority tasks on a legal pad and note the meetings I will attend for the day.

One of my priorities as an Operations Analyst for the National Security Practice at Red Cell is to provide support to other members of the team who are learning how to use our project management tool, ClickUp. I am well on my way to learning the ins and outs of all the capabilities that ClickUp offers to optimize my team’s productivity.  I section out 45 minutes to an hour of my day to take advantage of ClickUp University, the company’s online learning tool offering hundreds of videos to teach users how to effectively use the software. I have one hour until my first meeting, so I put my head down, and watch a video on how to automate processes on ClickUp to improve efficiency. 

9:30 a.m.

I log on to Zoom for my weekly one-on-one meeting with my boss, Paige, one of two Operations Directors at Red Cell. The first portion of our call is dedicated to debriefing the previous week’s activities. Last week, the entire Red Cell team met in San Diego for the first of the quarterly All Hands meetings for 2024. During All Hands, the Red Cell Platform team and incubation teams come together to make strategic plans for the year, and to reflect on progress made since the last quarterly meeting. There was ample team bonding, fantastic food, and even some fun water activities in gorgeous La Jolla. 

During All Hands, the Operations team doubles as an event management team. We are responsible for ensuring that everything goes smoothly at the venue, all the AV and technology are set up and operational, and catering is accounted for. We also help to prepare a significant portion of presentation materials. Thus, All Hands is no easy feat. Since I joined Red Cell at the beginning of the year, the San Diego trip was my very first All Hands. I learned a great deal during the trip, and I am looking forward to contributing to the smooth operations of the next All Hands, which takes place at our Tysons office in May. 

9:45 a.m.

Paige and I move on to discuss new priorities she has for me in the coming weeks. Given that Red Cell has employees all over the country (and even a few across the Atlantic!) who travel to our office quarterly or more frequently for onsite strategy weeks, we are working on establishing corporate rate agreements with surrounding hotels. So, my first task is to generate a poll in our Red Cell general Slack channel to gather information on which hotels people prefer in the area. 

10:00 a.m.

It’s about that time in the office when I find myself needing a pick-me-up. I head over to the pantry, grab a granola bar, and make myself a cappuccino using the super fancy and slightly confusing Breville coffee machine.

10:30 a.m.

I set myself up in one of the many open seating rooms in the office to take my next meeting of the day. One of my favorite things about the Red Cell office space is that very few people have their own designated room. I love to move around the office and change my scenery several times a day!

Jacqui, Red Cell’s Head of Operations, joins me in the room, and we log onto Zoom, where we are greeted by Arianna, an Operations Associate based in Boston. The three of us are members of the Operations team who generally focus our time on all things National Security.

Today, we are syncing on recent progress and reviewing upcoming action items. On Monday, we have a new member joining the team, Veronica Daigle, previously the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, who is the incoming  President of the National Security Practice. Jacqui assigns me various tasks around the office to prepare for Veronica’s arrival, such as putting together a Red Cell swag bag, setting her up in her own office, and giving her a tour on her first day. I tell Arianna and Jacqui that I have also revamped our practice’s SharePoint webpage, organizing all the documents so that they can hopefully be easily digested by Veronica, and adding widgets and quick links to the home page. We all agree that we are in a good position for her arrival on Monday.

11:26 a.m.

I head to the IT room to grab a few mics to set up the SAR for Standup. Standup is our three-times-a-week meeting where each Red Cell platform team member discusses their priorities for the day and any roadblocks they may be facing. It is usually a quick meeting, but it is great to see everyone’s faces! 

I set up the AV and am soon joined by others, including Jacqui, Dave, our COO, and Al, our IT specialist. It is a quiet day in the office, so it is just the four of us and Paris. We wait for the rest of the Red Cell platform team to join by Zoom. After a few minutes, Paige kicks us off, and Standup begins. 

11:47 a.m.

My stomach growls as a very enticing smell begins to drift into the SAR. I suspect that Paris has set up the catering in the pantry, and I get up to investigate. Today, Paris ordered from Baja Fresh, and I am psyched! Baja Fresh does a fantastic taco bar, and I start creating a plate before Paris can finish setting up. I grab a Poppi soda from the fridge and take a seat. Paris, Al, and I chat about how much we slept over the weekend to recover from All Hands, as we chow down on our tacos. 

12:30 p.m.

I have about an hour before my next sync, so I start working on some research on an idea for a new incubation in the backlog for National Security. I take note of various players in the existing market and compile all the information that I can find on the internet related to the emerging idea. I consider barriers to entry, and jot down questions I have for the President and Chair of the practice on how I can be most helpful as the idea continues to develop. 

1:20 p.m.

In 10 minutes, I have the weekly Operations sync. I open the Operations ClickUp and add my talking points to the meeting agenda.

1:30 p.m.

Jacqui and I log on to the Operations sync in her office and wait for the whole team to join. There are seven of us in total, which seems small, but our productivity level is unbelievable! I still have a lot to learn before I can produce such quality material in an efficient amount of time like my colleagues who have been here a bit longer. I am eager to get on their level! 

Each of us goes through topics relevant to Ops. When it is my turn, I ask my team members if they have  any specific capabilities they want me to investigate during my ClickUp research. Grace, another Operations Associate, wants to know if she can create a list in ClickUp which is not specifically a task list. Paige wants to know if there is a way to auto-generate tasks when a team member is tagged in a document. I add these items to my “things to research” task list. 

2:30 p.m.

I head to the pantry again to grab a snack and my favorite refreshment in the office, Hint Water. I can’t go a day in the office without one of these! 

3:15 p.m.

 I’ve been working on finishing my expense report for the previous month so I can submit it for approval. I work on compiling all the notes that my team took during All Hands, providing a short summary before each section, and highlighting action items and key takeaways. 

3:30 p.m.

A teammate, Sophie, sends me a Slack message. She wants to schedule a time to meet the next day to assign me some tasks to cover while she is on PTO next week. I add the meeting to my Outlook calendar. 

3:45 p.m.

I brainstorm questions for the Product and Engineering team during their weekly meeting tomorrow. I have taken on the role of being the Operations point of contact for their team in addition to National Security. I wonder if their team could help automate any of the Operations team’s processes. I make a note to myself to ask them about it tomorrow. 

5:02 p.m.

I close my laptop and pack up for the day. I check my phone to see when the next silver line metro leaves Tysons heading back to D.C.  I boogie on over to the station and hop on the train. I feel a sense of relief, knowing it was a productive day. 

5:47 p.m.

I turn the key and walk into my apartment. I see Max bouncing a ping pong ball in Goose’s direction. She jumps up, hits her paws against it, and chases after the ball, sliding all over the slippery recently polished concrete floors. I smile at the sight of my two favorite beings. I give Max a hug and we begin our daily exchange, describing our respective workdays. 

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