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July 11, 2018
Choosing a Career as a Strategy Analyst: My First 6 Months
By: Gary Zhu

Although there are many transferable skills from university to the workplace, I’ve learned more in my first 6 months at Accenture than I could have imagined.

I studied a Bachelor of Commerce and Law at UNSW and had the intention of pursuing a career in law. However, after working in various legal roles, I realised law wasn’t the right career for me. The work was less collaborative than what I’d anticipated and the issues I dealt with were quite narrow whereas I wanted to solve business problems that were broader and more impactful in nature.

It wasn’t until I decided to compete in a business case competition where I got my first glimpse of consulting. I was immediately attracted to the strategic thinking and diverse range of problems across different industries which consultants were involved in on a daily basis and knew this would be the right career for me.

Consulting: The traditional approach versus the Accenture approach

The business case competitions reflected the type of work we do at Accenture Strategy to an extent, but the consulting approach we learned at university differs to the approach we take at Accenture Strategy.

 

Business case competitions were like a simulation of a condensed consulting project. We were given a case brief which gave us an overview of a real business and were tasked with devising a strategy which addressed the company’s most pressing challenges in a short timeframe. We then presented that solution to a panel of judges consisting of industry executives, experienced consultants and academics.

So, the project scenario was similar to the type of work we did at Accenture Strategy.

However, the approach is different.

Since joining Accenture 6 months ago, I’ve worked on some incredibly exciting projects across different industries solving unique problems. I’ve helped identify digital transformation opportunities for an Australian bank and supported a major telecommunications company going through radical change.

However, the project I’ve enjoyed the most has to be my current work with 2nd Road, a strategic innovation consultancy part of Accenture Strategy, where we are defining the strategic vision for a global wealth manager which has recently merged two of its key businesses.

What’s interesting about this project is the unique approach we are taking to help the client tackle their problem. We are still using an analytical and data-driven approach which reminds me of my case competition days but in addition, we integrate this with the innovative, creative thinking and design-led approach from 2nd Road to provide a more holistic solution for the client. This really brings to light the fact that the traditional consulting approach is changing rapidly and it’s changing now. It’s no longer just hypothesis driven or issue based problem solving. You need to have that creative human-centred design approach as well.

Exposure to C-suite executives

One of the most rewarding aspects during my time at Accenture Strategy has been the exposure to senior business leaders from both our clients and within Accenture. I've had the opportunity to work directly with C-suite executives from conducting interviews with the board members of my current client to iterating with managing directors on a brief for a member of Accenture's global leadership team! I've realised that the fastest way to develop new skills is to work closely with people who are more experienced than yourself so as an analyst with just half a year's experience under my belt, being able to learn from the way these business executives think and communicate has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

3 tips for anyone interested in a strategy career:

For graduates or anyone considering a career in strategy consulting my three tips would be:

  1. Try to get a taste of consulting. Whether it’s competing in a case competition or working on a university consulting project, it’s helpful to get a taste of consulting first through similar experiences to understand whether consulting is a career you will enjoy and want to pursue.

  2. Take the time to learn as much as you can about the profession and Accenture. There are plenty of online materials which can help you but what I’ve found most useful is reaching out to consultants across your professional and social network to gain a real understanding of the work we do and what makes us different from other consulting firms.

  3. Show a keen interest in technology. You don’t need to know how to build a website or app but what you do need to show is an interest in technology because that is at the heart of everything we do at Accenture. A good starting point may be to familiarise yourself with the latest tech trends by taking a look at our thought leadership and see if there is something that interests you.

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