July 04, 2019
Evolving with technology
By: Janet Okolie
Accenture Careers Blog

An open mind
I’m part of the London Watson Hub, one of a group of Cloud studios in an Accenture-IBM partnership across the globe. We specialise in designing and delivering AI solutions using IBM Watson, as well as providing Subject Matter Expert advice to both account teams and clients on AI and Watson. Beyond my immediate team, I am aligned to the AI and Automation Engineering group within Intelligent Engineering Services (IES). Our current focus is helping clients understand how they can progress from experimenting with AI to scaling AI across their organisation. In my day to day role, I am a Scrum Master, which involves me managing the development team, and helping resolve any challenges that may hinder their work. I also liaise with clients on our various projects, making sure both the delivery team and client are aligned, as our success is highly dependent on collaboration throughout the journey from inception to delivery. We follow a defined Rapid Prototyping framework which is based on Design Thinking principles – this means that we place the user at the centre of everything that we do. We never go into a project with a set solution – we go in with an open mind, try to understand what the user need is, and then build out a solution that fits that need.

Evolving with technology
Looking back on the different projects I’ve worked on, I’ve been increasingly exposed to technologies on the emerging end of the spectrum, and each time I’ve moved on to something newer and even more exciting. My first project involved automating Macro-based Excel spreadsheets, then I moved to working with Microsoft Access and front-end automation, followed by Robotics Process Automation (RPA), and now I’m working in Artificial Intelligence.

The way I worked on my first role was so different to how I work today – even though it was only four years ago! Back then, we would gather requirements from the client, and once we had that nailed down and signed-off, we’d go on to design, develop, test and deploy. In my current role the Rapid Prototyping approach we follow is based on Accenture’s FORM methodology which is our shared mindset and common language for how we help our clients innovate and pivot to the future. This means that we are constantly gathering feedback from the client and iterating on this to refine the product. We start with one idea and incrementally develop that into something bigger and better; there’s huge collaboration effort between us and the client to co-create the end product.

Diversity in every sense
What I love most here is the diversity, in every sense. From the different people I’ve worked with to the range of technologies I’ve had exposure to, and the new ways of working I’ve experienced. I’ve worked on projects using traditional Waterfall delivery methodology, and I’ve also worked in very Agile environments. The people I’ve worked with have ranged from business analysts, to testers, to developers, to architects, and to client stakeholders. I’ve worked on projects in a retail bank, an entertainment and communications company, a beverage manufacturer/distributor, and more recently an oil and gas company where we’ve been doing something that is ‘technology agnostic’, because we’re placing the focus on their strategic approach to adopting, scaling and excelling with AI.

From Scrum Master to Scrummaging

Accenture Careers Blog

Outside of Accenture, I play for Blackheath Women’s Rugby, and two years ago we were promoted into the Championship league and it’s the most competitive rugby I’ve ever played. It’s been great fun but a huge step up for the team, so I train twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and we have a match most Sundays during the season (September until early April). Accenture also has a Tag/Touch Rugby team (RATS) as well as a Women’s 7s side who I’ve played for in the past; our women’s side even won the Middlesex 7s tournament a couple of years ago – we were as surprised as everyone else!

Initiating a conversion
I’ve recently been involved in a couple of new initiatives for IES, for example the MD who leads my group (AI and Automation Engineering) – Emma Kendrew – is a huge champion for gender diversity (as am I), and I supported her in leading a workshop to uncover how we could retain more women in IES. The workshop attendees were women working in a variety of different roles who were at different stages of their career – including women returning from maternity leave and working part-time. We really wanted to get to the crux of some of the challenges women in technology face, as well as what the enablers of their success are, so that we could gain some actionable insights to inform us in future strategies to ultimately encourage women stay in technology careers.

I’m also leading the AI capability development plan for the AI and Automation group, and there are two things we’re focusing on for the next few months. First on the list is defining a training overview for our four key partner platforms (Microsoft, Amazon, Google & IBM Watson), which will be a resource for upskilling, and second is developing an AI talent database so we can get the right people into the right roles when the opportunities arise.

In a nutshell my time at Accenture has been a rollercoaster! I’ve had exposure to a variety of roles, industries and technologies with my career evolving with every new opportunity. I’m excited to find out what my future looks like because if it's anything like the past 4 years, it means I’ve got lots of new experiences to look forward to, that will both challenge me and teach me new things.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to evolve your technology career working with diverse teams, global clients and new technologies, start by visiting our website.

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