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September 24, 2019
Why I'm now doing what I love
By: Dawid Naude

Dawid followed his father into finance before realising he needed to choose his own path. Starting again was scary and risky, but absolutely necessary. He caught up quickly and is passionate about his current role as a Technology Innovation Senior Principal at Accenture.

I came to Salesforce via a weird route. I’d always been super techy growing up. As soon as I saw a computer at school, I was the guy tinkering with it for hours. My mum understood this curiosity. She said: “Dawid, you’re allowed to break this (home) computer as many times as you want – we’ll get it fixed.” I had this insatiable curiosity to find out how things worked. The greatest gift she gave me wasn’t the computer, it was the permission to explore my curiosity with it.

So of course I was going to end up working in technology. I even did a tech degree. But then my father was in foreign exchange and – mistakenly – I decided to follow in his footsteps and spent the first few years of my career working in finance.

For four long years I felt unfulfilled. At first, I thought I was in the wrong role, so I bounced around at the bank, trying different things. I thought, “Once I become a trader, it will be great!” Then I did that job for a year and it didn’t scratch the itch. It was time to do something brave. Technology was calling me. I needed to make a big career change.

Running Design Thinking training in Shanghai

It was a defining moment that came with a lot of risk and a huge salary cut. But, with my wife’s support, as well as no mortgage and no kids, in 2012 I said goodbye to finance and signed up at Accenture to begin again. This time in technology consulting.

I had to play catch-up on the tech side, but it’s amazing how quickly you can move when you’ve chosen a career path deliberately – rather than just falling into something. I could also use tonnes of the soft skills I’d picked up at the bank. I already knew how to work effectively with people. I was able to listen and translate technical concepts into business speak. I knew what it was like to be a user of a system.

It was surprisingly easy to close the technical gap and surge ahead. And, eventually, it turned out the technical side wasn’t an issue anyway. I didn’t want to be a technical architect. My skill is in working with our clients to solve really challenging and interesting problems – and translating abstract concepts into something practical and useful. To see how technology could help solve problems, and if technology is the right solution at all.

At a team event

It’s a great career, I feel I belong here.

To me, every single day is different. And I find the work incredibly satisfying. In finance, I was always chasing a number. Whereas now, my goals are to solve problems, get people excited about what we’re building and make sure we all have fun along the way.

I love the fact that we don’t have typical client/vendor relationships. We always work with the client as one team. That’s not a ‘nice to have’. It’s critical. We rely on our clients so much because we’re only as good as the information they provide and how quickly we test and iterate together.

Although technology called me here, at its core, my job is not really about the tech at all – it’s about solving problems and improving the lives of the people we’re building for. I’m definitely not combating world hunger, but a successful project means there are people who now spend more time working on what they want to be doing, getting better service, or getting home earlier.

Technology will come and go, but interesting problems won’t. That’ why I had to start again. To come to place where I belong – and where, every day, I hope I make a difference.

Attending Accenture's International Women's Day event

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