January 24, 2020
Becoming a tech visionary
By: Emma Acheson-Gray

Securing my first role

Emma Acheson-Gray

I joined Accenture in July 2019 as a Business Technology and Integration Associate so it’s all still quite new to me. As I was born with a rare congenital neuromuscular disorder, before joining I had an occupational health assessment and it was decided that my first role should be based from one of our London offices. Considering that the nature of our work is traditionally client-based, this meant finding that right role to start with proved a little difficult. However, I’ve now joined our Liquid Studio helping with conversational design and it’s great.

I’m working with the likes of Alexa and chatbots, designing the conversations that the technology may have and looking at how it interacts with users. It’s not too technical and I’m not a coder - it’s more about understanding user-interaction and then providing the copy for inputting into the programmes. There's also the process side, for example looking at how the conversation will flow in order to design what the responses will be.

The actual work is really interesting and very engaging because of the new and evolving nature of the technology. It's exciting to know that what you're working on is going to help shape how society interacts with technology in the future! Liquid Studio is also full of some amazing people, producing innovative proof of concepts for clients and demonstrating how the newest technology breakthroughs can add value for business. So just being in that environment is a great learning experience.

At the Liquid Studio Christmas Party

Becoming a Tech Visionary
It was during my last internship that I started to question if I wanted to stay in the Communications industry where I was working, so I signed-up to MyPlus Students Club, an organisation that helps students, with a disability or long-term health condition, in their careers. When you sign up, MyPlus enter you into a monthly draw to win a day with an employer - I ended up winning and decided on Accenture. Before your day with the company, you need to write about what you’re interested in and for me it was technology. Accenture then asked me if I’d like to join their 4-day Tech Visionaries experience rather than just spend one day with them - I jumped at the chance.

The first day of the four-day event was held at Accenture’s Fenchurch Street office where we got an introduction to the company, had talks from people within technology about their careers, got introduced to our challenge, set the brief and put into teams. The teams included a mix of people, some with coding experience and others (like me) with no coding experience at all. We were also given a mentor from within Accenture to help us for the remaining three days. The next day we were in a workspace in London with lots of free food and some very brief instructions covering design and coding etc. to help us with our technology-focused team challenge – after that, we were left to solve the challenge. We had two-and-a-half more days designing an idea, building it and trying to figure out how everything worked. We were encouraged to try and contribute to all aspects of the task so, I tried coding, the coders tried designing and vice versa. On the final day, the teams presented their ‘product’ to a panel of Accenture Managers and they picked the winning team.

The Tech Visionaries experience effectively acts in the place of an assessment centre. All the other attendees had done their online application and online tests before being offered a place at the event. There were no interviews and no formal assessment during the four days. Accenture watched how you acted and how you interacted with other people, the tech and the task in hand. And then, I got a call the following week offering me a place on the graduate scheme! I think it helped that my team won the challenge and it was fantastic that everyone on my team got offered a place. Our team mentor for the experience is also involved in the career development of new-joiner analysts, so it was really nice to see a familiar face when I started.

An enabling environment
Because of my disability, before the event, Accenture ensured that all the areas would be accessible for me. Even on the first evening when we had a networking event, they let me know well-ahead of time that there was one step into the venue and checked if that was an issue for me so they could make any necessary arrangements. On the first day of the experience too, my contact from recruitment met me for a coffee and a chat beforehand to run through what would happen. This was a great help as it gave me the opportunity to ask any last-minute questions about adjustments without having an audience. My disability puts me in that awkward middle ground between not needing a wheelchair or any visual aids but, I need to have the accessibility that’s right for me to move around independently. When I was on the Tech Visionaries experience someone from Accenture’s Accent on Enablement team came along and talked to me about what support was available and that gave me the confidence to accept the role knowing that I’d be working in an enabling culture.

As part of the technology graduate induction, you have three days in London and then you fly to Bangalore for two weeks (it's quite intense). People were very helpful in ensuring that I got the support that I needed. When I was in India, if there was anything that wasn't accessible to me or wasn't suitable - like some of the activities - there was always someone who was aware of this and able to make adjustments to help me.

Making the most of every opportunity
I’m now a member of our Accent on Enablement network and have recently helped to run a Design Thinking event for International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD). We looked at how Accenture can improve on enablement and we also ran the session around the IDPWD theme of "The Future is Accessible".

In fact, there’s always plenty to get involved with alongside your day-to-day role. I’m a member of the Accenture-wide Wine Club and then, within Technology, we also have a lot of events available to us. Recently I went to a Datathon (similar to a mini hackathon) where we were introduced to some data visualisation software and got to spend a couple of hours with a subject expert who took time to teach use how to use it functionally within the afternoon. It’s great to be able to try so many new things and be able to continue learning relevant skills outside of a traditional academic setting.

At the Accenture Technology Christmas Party

My plan for the next couple of years is to just try out different things and you have the opportunity and are very much encouraged to do that here. Whether it’s different technology, new industries, or side of desk activities. I plan to try everything that comes my way and then build my experience from there!

We run a number of Tech Visionaries events throughout the year. To find out more about these events or our other graduate opportunities, please visit our website.

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