Why I love working in Strategy at Accenture
April 15, 2021
David Levi started at Accenture as a tech grad but tanked at coding. Eventually, he found his sweet spot. Two decades, and 15 years of international roles later, he’s the head of Strategy in ANZ. Find out what he’s learnt, how he stays current and the amazing partnership he’s built with his wife.
When I joined Accenture 21 years ago as an Arts/Science grad, I was put in the technology stream. Back in the day, that meant coding. But, as everyone soon figured out, my aptitude didn’t sit in coding! So they moved me into testing (where you need to be analytical and thorough) and it quickly became apparent I just didn’t have the required attention to detail… Finally, they told me to go and talk to the business and find solutions to pain points. Here I found my place in the world. I could look at the big picture and speak the language. By a somewhat circuitous route, I’d landed in Strategy.
In my early years in Melbourne I worked on amazing projects. We built the first ever ecommerce portal for a global brand – so successful, it’s only just been decommissioned – and a global insurer’s wealth and insurance platform.
After three years of begging to be sent overseas, Accenture sent me to Glasgow. It wasn’t exactly the glamorous destination I’d been hoping for! But the two people I lived with in Glasgow became my best friends in the world – and the role was the springboard to a 15-year international career.
My overseas roles extended me quickly. Very early on, I had the opportunity to start new businesses and transform existing ones. I learnt how to operate in different cultures, markets and teams.
At 26, I found myself in Istanbul, advising the CEO at one of Turkey’s biggest banks on transformation and customer centricity. Next, I helped another client start a private bank. I also spent three years in Malaysia, helping a major bank plan and execute straight through origination and the first wave of digital sales and service. I learnt how technology drives busines value and how to architect and execute transformation.
In Indonesia and Thailand I worked to support financial inclusion. In 2011, in Singapore, where the banking market was consolidating, I got involved in Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), advising on due diligence and integration strategies. And I helped executive teams use neo banking to get into India and China.
Every time I hit a new market, I had to reinvent myself. When I arrived in Singapore, I definitely wasn’t a digital or an M&A expert! Right now, I’m working on understanding the value of AI, data and cloud to my customers, so I can help them get ahead of the game.
In 2016, I moved back home with my family to head up Accenture Strategy in ANZ. My job is to help executives define and execute their most important strategies.
I love the constant challenge and the fact that every day is different. It keeps me interested. And it’s fun! In strategy consulting, there are times you have to work really hard – and other times you can take life a bit easier. Honestly, it’s in those hardest moments that I’ve had a ball. What makes it fun is the people you work with. We laugh and joke. We’re a community and a family of shared experience.
I feel really lucky that, in every part of my journey, I’ve had really strong leaders who invested in my skills and career development – and inspired me to be a better leader myself.
I also value the fact that every single person at Accenture is focused on collaboration. I’m a pretty relaxed person. The only time I really stressed out was back in Istanbul when I didn’t know how to solve the client’s problem. One night, I was panicking down the phone to my wife in London. She said: “Don’t you work for Accenture? You have 300,000 people. Surely one of them has the answer!” Feeling mildly foolish, I sent “Help!” emails around the world and went to bed. Next morning, I had 50 brilliant responses from the network.
To this day, I’ve never forgotten the power of the network to help me – and my role in being there for others.
I met my (very wise) wife over a dead body at uni in an anatomy prac. I fell in love with her adventurous spirit and cheeky sense of humour. She’s enthusiastically shared every crazy adventure, joy and speed bump with me. She has an amazing drive for learning and a passion for helping the underprivileged in society. Wherever we went, she progressed her career, doing her PhD in Malaysia and working in public health in Singapore. We’re a fantastic partnership.
My kids are 5 and 8. My son wants to work for Accenture. My daughter wants to be a doctor. I always try to make bed and story time as many nights a week as possible. I’ve really enjoyed lockdown, being able to do school drop offs and pickups. I love spending time with my kids on our farm, fishing and riding motorbikes. We try to get down there every week. We have a strict rule of 1-hour of screen time per day, so it’s a brilliant place to get them adventuring outdoors.
I hope they’ll be open to exploring lots of different paths. It’s so important to embrace every opportunity and not shy away from something just because we don’t know much about it. Eventually, you find your place in the world. But usually it’s not until you’ve tried out many different roles.