Ex-journalist Tracy Gawthorne loves a challenge. So what’s she still doing at Accenture more than two decades after she started?
Coming out of university, I was desperate to be a foreign correspondent complete with a flak jacket and hard hat reporting from a war zone somewhere. I wanted excitement and a constant challenge.
Although I worked as a journalist for a while, I didn’t quite make the foreign desk. So I dabbled in the corporate world and was intrigued by it. The business world seemed to be operating in this black box of strange language and formality that really surprised me.
I thought: “There’s something I can do here, and – if I’m lucky – I’ll get to travel as well”.
That was 20 years ago. At Accenture, I’ve been lucky enough to marry my passion for storytelling and travelling...
I love what I do. And I’ve never stopped learning. I think that’s what’s kept me here – along with the diversity of the people I work with.
There’s always someone who challenges me
When Accenture asked me to move from Sydney to London, I jumped at the chance. I worked with some incredible mentors in London who helped me think differently about my role. Previously, I’d thought of myself as a marketer who was in a support function, but wasn’t necessarily part of the business.
There were some great people there who brought me into programs and leadership teams that instilled in me that I was actually a businessperson in the business community. That changed my perception of myself and what I could achieve.
When I tried to resign I was offered a new opportunity
After London, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to Australia. I really wanted to travel again. So I tried to resign.
Luckily for me, my manager gave me the opportunity to take leave without pay. I took a career break and spent nine months backpacking through South America. I returned to Australia and realised I was excited about coming back to Accenture.
Accenture had my back when children changed my life
When I settled down to have children I was a little bit uneasy around what my role was as a mother – and as somebody in the workforce. There was a lot of guilt on both sides.
It took a while, but I learned I could do everything I wanted, just not all at once. It really is okay to have a family and a career. I had to learn how to carve out time to focus on work or family or myself and try not to blur them too much, but I’m very comfortable with that idea now. I’m not always successful but I’m much more aware.
I’m still here because there’s always someone willing to listen
It hasn’t always been “Yes!” to everything I’ve suggested. But it’s never a straight no either. And it’s always been a good conversation that has led to an interesting opportunity.
Let’s see what’s next...