A VP drops work on your desk that requires 2 hours and says he needs it in two hours, and before you can say anything, he leaves because he is catching a flight. Then the MD comes by and drops work on your desk that also requires 2 hours, and he says he needs it in two hours. Both the VP and MD are now on a plane and you cannot contact them. Whose work do you do? How do you deal with this situation?

Similar to the previous question, you need to understand the context of the file, the companies / industries involved, the client’s goals, and the relative importance and urgency of each client’s deliverable. To get this information, you can ask your colleagues who are either staffed on the file or work in a similar industry/product group. Based on their insights, you may be able to decide on the best approach, which may be to work on the most important and urgent deliverable, or simplify the work so that both files can be completed. If you are the only person in the office, you contact another colleague at different office or city that may also be working on the deal or the same industry / product group.

If none of these methods work, and you feel like you don’t have the seniority and expertise to decide which file to work on yourself (which may very well be true if you are just an analyst), then you should most likely try to do the MD’s work as quickly as possible and offer an explanation to the VP through email, as well as phone when he lands. This is because the MD will most likely be presenting to an important client, and a senior’s ability to create materials on the fly is limited. The VP is lower ranking in seniority, but is also closer to the analysis, so a VP should in theory find it easier to build an ad-hoc solution. Of course, this is still not ideal, and it’s better to use the solutions mentioned above.