October 18, 2017
From software development to H&PS: Why it’s so important to step outside your comfort zone
By: Genevieve Chand

Genevieve tells us about her work life in Canberra, her career journey with Accenture and why it's so important not to give up.

The first big move of my life was when I was 18. I immigrated to Australia from Fiji to study accounting and economics at Sydney University. The second big move was to Canberra four years later to join the Accenture Graduate program.

Getting accepted into the Graduate program was a golden opportunity to kick start my career - and I was excited. The position was based in Canberra, so, although reluctant to leave my friends and family, I made the move.

When I arrived in Canberra I joined a big sustainability project. I started in a software development role and a significant part of my role for the first 12 months was to code. I was surprised Accenture started me in a software development position when my background was accounting and economics. And I must admit, I was out of my comfort zone.

I was challenged every day and although I loved the company and my colleagues, there were days when I felt I couldn't do it and even days when I felt like leaving. But thankfully I didn't. I was learning and I was learning fast. From how to think like a programmer and the technical specifics of coding language to applying code to real-world situations. In hindsight, I know that that first year at Accenture was one of the most beneficial of my career.

I soon learned that Accenture encourages its employees to step out of their comfort zone to ensure they are expanding their skills base, constantly learning and increasing their employability for the future. I was told by a great manager at the time, "Throughout your career you will be faced with challenges you might not like but if you put your mind to it and get through it you will come out so much better and advanced at the other end. This is Accenture, you can't get comfortable, you have to move around." And she was right.

My software development experience improved my critical thinking and analytical skills. I can now ask the right questions when I'm reviewing design and it's helped me in that critical thinking process. After 12 months, I moved into a consulting and client-facing role and over the next six years I progressed to a manager position within Health and Public Services with work spanning from Defence to working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Life in Accenture Canberra

Moving to Canberra wasn’t easy at first. I didn’t know anyone and my friends were in Sydney.

While I was at Uni I read about the benefits of networking and mentoring for career progression. And no company encourages that more than Accenture. Not just through internal mentoring programs but through various secondment programs, charities, and engaging with the community.

Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else! Although I miss the beach in Sydney, I’ve grown to love my Canberra lifestyle. You don’t feel rushed, no traffic chaos, smaller population and I can drive to work in 15 minutes. And weekends are never boring – farmer’s markets, museums, you just need to know where to look.

The best thing about moving to Canberra is the welcoming close-knit community and my Accenture friends.

I’ve made life-long friends and I recently got married to someone from Accenture here in Canberra – so that was something special for me. We had our wedding a few months ago and needless to say we invited a whole bunch of Accenture people!

When I think back to my first year as a graduate, moving to a new city and working in a challenging area learning code – I could have given up. But I didn’t. And I’m so glad I listened to my manager 6 years ago who told me about the importance and benefits of stepping outside my comfort zone. I didn’t give up and now I love my career as much as my life here in Canberra.

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