Last week I had the pleasure of attending Greater Together – a business networking event, to bring together female university students and experienced businesswomen. I tend to make the effort to attend as many of these events because – as crazy as it is to think about it – I was standing in a similar position just over a year ago.
With my heart set on investment banking (or so I thought), my path into consulting and ultimately to Accenture was an unusual one. It wasn’t until a friend working in recruitment for one of the big banks took me to one side and said “Anna, you don’t even like banks. Why on earth are you trying to get employed by one?” that I started to consider alternative career paths.
Around a month later, I was one of the students mingling with other students at one of Accenture’s networking events and it was that evening, through the positive atmosphere and the inspiring people I met, that led me to accept my offer with Accenture. As such, I know how important and subsequently life changing (not to sound too dramatic) these events can be!
When the invitation appeared in my inbox inviting me to the Greater Together event at the Science Museum, I could hardly type my response fast enough. Of course I’d be there!
Despite being thoroughly jet lagged having returned from overseas client work the day before, I even made it to the ‘pre-event-event’ at a pub beforehand to chat with some of the students attending the event. I remember asking the questions they asked, worrying about the things they’re worrying about now – I can’t lie, it does still all feel quite surreal.
Before long we were off to the Science Museum!
Entering the aptly-chosen Information Age gallery, a marketplace of sorts had been set up featuring a number of female-led start-ups, each businesswoman keen to talk to the attendees about her individual experience of setting up a business; the ups and the downs.
We settled in for talks from our main speakers for the evening. Our very own Arabel Bailey, Accenture Digital UKI Lead, gave a captivating talk about her path at Accenture which started when she joined as a graduate back in 1991. Her winding path through Accenture is proof for anyone still worried that you don’t have to have your game plan fixed from the day you graduate in order to be successful. Imparting wisdom to all, she insisted that life does not need to be planned down to the minute.
Thank goodness for that!
Next up: Renée Elliot, founder of Planet Organic. Now recognised as the UK’s largest certified organic supermarket, Planet Organic has gone from strength to strength since it first opened its doors back in 1995. As she took us on her journey from her childhood in the outback in Mississippi to the makings of Planet Organic right here on our doorstep, her talk was peppered with quotes that have encouraged her, driven her and inspired her.
My favourite of the evening: ‘Be the best version of yourself that you can be’.
Tilly Blyth, curator of the Information Age gallery at the Science Museum, closed the evening sharing the pasts of some of the most fascinating and inspiring female British scientists, technologists and inventors – some of whose work is exhibited in the very hall we were standing in. After her speech, I was left feeling like I could take on the world.
The evening wrapped up, my phone started buzzing non-stop as the stream of LinkedIn requests started to come through and I even got a hug from one of the girls I’d chatted with earlier on the evening after agreeing to catch up at a later date before her interview.
All in all, an evening very well spent!