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September 05, 2018
From Film and TV to life at Accenture Analytics for Application Management (AAAM)
By: Alastair Donnelley

I’ve always had one foot in the arts and one in the sciences.

After a year in an engineering degree, I decided it wasn’t for me at that time and moved to Film and TV.

Film and TV Career

Taken by Jerome Lafforgue Media Services

The next 12 years were spent working my way through the TV industry – a camera assistant, a camera operator and a senior photographer – culminating in one of my short films being played (albeit not on the main screen) at the Cannes Film Festival.

But about seven years ago, the Australian TV and film landscape was comprehensively disrupted by the online space. Independent TV and film were competing with global online giants such as YouTube which had a knock-on effect throughout the industry.

Per diem rates offered for cameramen were dropping. The work was more and more scarce. I began to see the writing on the wall - it was time for a change.

Camera Man Experience

Taken by Jerome Lafforgue Media Services

I revisited the mechanical engineering degree, but this time I approached it with a completely different mindset. It paid off and I graduated with a first-class honours and the University Medal.

What attracted me to AAAM

I joined Accenture after hearing Luke (MD of AAAM) talk at an industry event. It immediately sparked my interest.

My main criteria when deciding what career path and organisation to pursue was to work with really smart and motivated people. And that certainly fit the bill with Accenture and AAAM.

I’m surrounded by a lot of highly motivated and well-educated people and working with cutting-edge technology.

The second thing that attracted me to AAAM was that it felt like a start-up under the auspices of an international organisation.

We have the excitement and freedom that you would expect from a start-up but without the downsides such as never knowing if it’s going to go belly-up. Instead, we have the stability and resources behind us.

We also work in an agile environment. Projects are often on a quick turnaround and the focus is on making stuff happen. Again, this is unusual for a big corporate where often things don’t move too quickly. We’re also lucky to have the enterprise and frameworks that you’d struggle to get your hands on if you were at a start-up.

The skills needed at AAAM

AAAM takes a very data analytical approach to solving business problems.

I’m not your typical AAAM employee with years of technology experience. But I bring a different set of skills and that’s what AAAM tries to attract.

I’ve found that every experience you’ve gathered throughout your professional life is worthwhile.

Over the years I had taught myself to program websites and gradually did more tech and scientific programming. My thesis in Uni was a mobile app for Android which was designed for tertiary students to learn basic thermodynamics principles and thermodynamics simulation coding.

Mechanical engineering is not just about building engines. I focused more on thermo- and fluid-dynamics and it was an engineering degree weighted towards programming - App design, web design and scientific programming.

And 12 years in TV and Film also brings another unique set of creative and communication skills that I’ve been surprised to find useful.

Since joining Accenture almost a year ago I’ve worked on a variety of projects. One example is a large internal analytics program for Accenture HR. We’re introducing a lot more automation into HR processes so that labour-intensive activities are much more efficient.

In this we use and build a lot of the latest analytics and visualisation tools.

Many of the projects are about streamlining business processes using machine learning tools and other latest technologies.

A lot of IT automation and programming tends to be done by engineers and programmers who perhaps don’t have any background in communications and in packaging a product palatably for a human audience. The language can become very technical.

And that’s one of the things I brought to AAAM - the background in communications and a user-centric focus. It has been useful for teams when it comes to the stage in a project where we’ve technically solved the problem. The next stage is to figure out how to produce or style the end-product so that people are actually comfortable and want to use it.

I think any kind of experience can help. Although AAAM is very tech-focused, I’ve seen first-hand how a communications background has been very helpful.

I enjoy life more without the worry of not knowing where the next paycheque is coming from. And if I ever want to revisit my old career I can pull out the camera. I still shoot occasionally. In the current climate it’s much more appropriate for me to have film making as a hobby rather than a career.

Short film shot in India and played in Cannes

My short film which we shot in India and played in Cannes was a nice farewell to the industry.

And now in the next chapter of my career in AAAM, I’m excited about what the future holds.

Alastair Donnelley

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