Why I’m loving the diverse opportunities at Accenture
February 23, 2021
After two years, Computer Science and Psychology grad, Maria Ahkit, is already the Wellington representative for Tech Academy and the New Zealand lead for Accenture’s Mental Health Network. Find out what skills she’s learning in her extracurricular activities.
Having done a double major in Computer Science and Psychology, my main criteria when I was job hunting was to find a role where I’d never be bored. I wanted every day to be different, with work that kept changing and challenging me.
I found my place as a Software Engineering Associate at Accenture. It suits me down to a T. I’m always moving through different clients, roles and projects. And there are constant opportunities for growth.
When I started, I found the work quite fast-paced, really exciting and a little bit nerve-racking. But everyone in the Wellington office was so friendly and welcoming. I was surprised by how much it feels like people are genuinely your friends – not just your colleagues.
We all know each other – even across career levels. It’s amazing how approachable our senior leaders are. When we have community events, a different side of them comes out. They don’t talk about work – they actually want to get to know you. And they’re really accessible. If I needed to talk to a managing director, I’m not afraid to ask and I know they’d give me their time. I think that’s amazing.
I was surprised that, within a year of joining Accenture I became our Tech Academy representative here in New Zealand. Tech Academy gives our grads the right support to be successful at Accenture. It’s a community, where we share regular updates and encourage everyone to get involved and have fun. When COVID-19 hit, Tech Academy was an important support during lockdown.
During lockdown, we were running events once a week. Now it’s every 2-3 weeks. We run quiz nights and gaming tournaments, as well as fireside chats with senior leaders. Cities take it in turns to host so everyone gets events in their time zone sweet spot.
As I started my second year, I felt I was ready for another challenge, juggling the work with my client role. Because of my psychology background, I put my hand up to lead our Healthy Minds Network in New Zealand. Healthy Minds raises awareness of mental health issues. Our mission is to create a community where people feel safe to talk about mental health and know they’ll be supported if they ask for help. The idea is: no one at Accenture should go through mental health issues alone.
I thought the position would go to someone more senior. But I discovered that career levels at Accenture don’t hold you back from jumping into senior roles. It’s been an incredible learning opportunity, teaching me how to manage people, delegate tasks, come up with a strategy and get buy-in from the community.
Today, I lead a Healthy Minds working group and have been instrumental in creating a new structure for our Thriving Minds course. This is a science-based course that teaches people to identify stress and use strategies to combat it. The course was really well attended, including several senior managers, which was great. And we received lots of positive feedback. I was pretty proud when the new structure was picked up by Australia.
In the future, I see myself continuing to grow, rising into manager roles and developing my leadership skills. I also want to see our community evolve into one where we’re truly open about mental health. Where, when someone asks us how we are, we don’t just say “fine”.
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