Why I swapped engineering for consulting
March 1, 2021
Electrical & Electronics engineer, Ana Gutierrez didn’t want to specialise too early in her career. Find out about the opportunities and variety she’s getting as a Consulting Analyst at Accenture.
I studied a Masters in Electronics Engineering at the University of Western Australia and got work experience in various mining companies. I thought the work was really interesting, but I also got the impression it would lock me into doing the same thing for a really long time. I like learning every day and working in different areas. I didn’t want to specialise too early in my career.
That’s why I decided on consulting. I figured it would give me a huge variety and lots of opportunities to work with different clients. I chose Accenture because I was excited about the opportunity to learn and apply different technologies. I didn’t want to lose that element of my work. I was a little concerned I wouldn’t have the right background to work at Accenture. But once I discovered I didn’t have to be a coding expert, I thought I’d be a really good fit. Turns out I was!
Since I started with Accenture in September 2019, I’ve worked on five projects: four mining clients and one bank (during COVID-19). I learnt a lot with the banking client, but it also confirmed I’m more interested in working for resources companies where I can use my engineering skills.
My days are all very different. Unless we’re in lockdown, I typically work a few days in the office and a few from home. It’s very flexible. Mostly, my days start at 8.30am. But, because my clients have offices around the world, some days start and finish at different times.
When I’m working from home, I log in at 8.30am for our ‘stand up meeting’. This is a quick update on what everyone’s doing and where we allocate tasks for the day. It’s also a moment I can put my hand up for anything I need help with.
Afterwards, I go for my first walk of the day to grab a coffee and then start tackling my priorities.
Right now, I’m working on a data strategy for a mining client. My job is to get everyone’s views on the strategy. That means talking to people who work in all the different areas of operations, from those based on the mine site to people in head office. I interview everyone to understand what the strategy has to achieve and what problems it needs to solve and then figure out what that looks like. I consolidate the responses and prioritise actions. What will be the most valuable? What’s easy to implement? What do people want the most?
I really like understanding perspectives from different parts of the business – mining, logistics, procurement – giving me a broad view of the company and its processes. The people I talk to have years of experience and heaps of industry knowledge, so the conversations are very interesting.
The next stage will be to design the client’s new operating model and figure out the change management so it makes sense to people. I like seeing everything come together. Taking it from a bunch of information to something that actually works. It’s so rewarding when people feel they’ve been heard and I know we’ve designed something that will make their jobs easier.
With each new project, I’ve worked with a different team. It can be sad to say goodbye, but you stay friends afterwards, building connections across the firm. My current team is mostly based on the east coast, which is three hours ahead. At the end of the day, I leave a note for them, explaining what I didn’t get to so they can pick it up the next morning. We’re a really diverse bunch.
I came here for the diverse work opportunities, which I’ve had, but my highlight at Accenture has been the people.
Everyone is so open-minded. Your voice is heard and it’s easy to talk to anyone – even senior people. Sometimes I get to work alongside directors as we try to a particular problem. At first, I was a bit worried about how I’d go. But our leaders are so encouraging and supportive. Like me, their focus is on getting the best result for the client.
The Perth office is particularly friendly. I get lots of invitations to socialise after work. When my team members visit Perth, I take them out to dinner after work and show them the city. I also regularly catch up with the grads who started about the same time as me. One of them in particular has become a close friend.
I love that Accenture is very international. I have access to experts around the world. It can be a bit tricky to navigate at first, but when you find your place you get opportunities to work with amazing people outside your projects. I’ve been involved in sustainability initiatives, which I absolutely love. Basically, if there’s anything you’re passionate about, you can get involved with a group working on it.
In future, I’m looking forward to owning a project and getting more management experience. I also want to get more involved in more sustainability initiatives for our mining clients. That’s an area where we can do so much to move the dial on climate adaptation.
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