My story: Why I don’t do things by the book
July 23, 2021
Accenture’s myWizard Lead, Luke Higgins, on his ‘cloud head’ approach to work and his hope that like-minded people will join him in rewriting the rules.
As my wife will tell you, having my head in the cloud is pretty much the definition of the way I live my life. I’ve always tackled problems differently, preferring to write my own book rather than follow one. This was true even in my uni days, studying electrical engineering. I did my work experience at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor. We had all this data in hundreds of spreadsheets that had to be loaded into a primitive database (this was 17 years ago!). As the work experience guy, I got the task.
After the first day of data entry, I realised I was making mistakes, and I thought there had to be a better way, so I read some books, did some research, and over that weekend, I’d learnt to build VB scripts to automate loading the data. When my boss asked me how it was going, I’d only actually loaded one sheet. But, that night I pushed the button and everything was transposed by the next morning! Overnight, I went from “I’ve got another 500 to go,” to “I’m done!”
That was the first time I realised your boss might tell you to do something a certain way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best way. Ever since then, I’ve trusted my instincts that there is always an innovative approach.
When I started my career at Accenture, I was doing support work at a leading telecommunications company, managing information fall out issues on a mobile ordering system. It was extremely repetitive and after a week of intense boredom, I automated the task based on the rules I had learnt – basic AI automation - and asked for a more interesting job.
In 2007, I helped build another major telecommunications organisation, develop their first cloud and went on to develop some of Australia’s biggest transactional based systems, including a large betting agency platform. We delivered five major racing events, with A$100AUD million going through the platform on a single day, with no problems and no outages.
The biggest learning curve for me was that platforms need a lot of smarts and intelligence. I figured our clients would need a simple way to harness AI-infused automation. So we wrote a white paper suggesting we build a platform that Accenture could offer all our clients. It was initally approved for $5 million in funding, to build the platform and since then we have watched it morph globally. Today, that platform is myWizard – used on more than 1,000 accounts around the world.
Much of the Australian myWizard team is recruited from Accenture’s Student Initiative programs, such as the Technology Bootcamps and Graduate Program, so we have a fairly young, but very talented and inspired team. I love that they’re all really dedicated to helping the community. This year, as a team, we set ourselves the goal to speak to 20,000 young women at high schools, encouraging them to consider a career in technology. We’re also supporting high school teachers to be more confident teaching technology.
Five of the team, led by Kristina Mahony (who joined Accenture as a Graduate), recently worked on an award-winning app for Pollinate. In their own time, the team built a platform to support entrepreneurial Indian women to distribute solar lights into nomadic villages and slums. In these villages, people live on USD$3.20 per day, but spend 20% of their income on kerosene. Burning kerosene leads to 1.7 million pollution related deaths per year and 33 million tones of CO2 emissions. The app, Solarmate, will help Pollinate to reduce 3 million tonnes of CO2 over the next 5 years – and even more in the future.
It makes me so proud to see what they’re doing. They’re not just great technologists, they’re willing to give their own time to work on amazing projects that are literally changing the world.
Do you have your head in the cloud like Luke and his amazing team? We’re currently looking for people who live and breathe Cloud. Inventive, imaginative and optimistic people, whose heads are filled with the possibilities of Cloud technology, with the technical ability to make them happen. So don’t even think about settling for an ordinary Cloud career. Come reimagine what’s possible and fast-track your future with Accenture Cloud First. Click here to view all our great roles in Cloud.