August 07, 2019
Leading with technical flair
By: Lisa Griffiths

It’s never boring

One of the things I love about Accenture is the variety of roles you get to experience. I’ve been here for 17 years but I haven’t had one job for all those years (that would be boring). In fact, I’ve changed roles every 18 months/two years – each one giving me a new opportunity, a new experience and a new challenge.

I am a very technical person who is leading delivery work presently and something we value is delivery people who understand their technology, and technology people who understand how to do delivery. It’s that combination of skills that helps us to be really effective.

Because I have a very strong technical understanding and knowledge, that helps me as delivery lead to spot problems and provide the developers with very clear guidance on what they need to do. I’m responsible for making sure the project is delivered. In short, ensuring any issues are resolved, that our teams are planning appropriately, that we’ve got all our cross dependencies tracked and that things happen as they should. I’m supported by a financials team and by a legal contractual team. I also have a number of leads that report into me such as a Test Lead, a Platform Architect, an Application Architect and, as it’s an agile project, a Release Train Engineer (essentially a scrum master of scrum masters), all of whom contribute to different aspects of the project. Then, within the teams, there are about 40 to 50 people: developers, testers, DevOps experts, business analysts, scrum masters, etc.

Developing from a developer

I joined Accenture as a junior developer, coding stuff that someone else had designed and written the framework around, and eventually moved into a lead developer role running a small development team with responsibility for the designs of work. Then I briefly moved into operations architecture before I went on maternity leave. It was when I returned from maternity leave that I got my first role doing a full architecture review of a new platform that we were putting in at a big investment bank. It was only a short project so when that came to an end, I decided to speak to my MD about finding a new role and one that was London-based for family reasons. He found a project for me and, as he knew I got the business angle as well as the technical side of things, asked me to be the product owner in building a digital capability for the client and migrating them away from their very old-style mainframe integration.

I spent three years in that role and grew it. I started off with one scrum team and when I finished, we were across China and India with 12 teams with 120 developers and testers as well as other product owners. Part of what we implemented for the client was a scaled agile framework and I therefore got to know that from a delivery perspective as well. When I rolled off the project, because I knew how to do delivery and understood the scaled agile framework, I was asked to come in to get my current project delivered and in production.

Square bread

The different projects have been one of the other great things about working here, but two or three do stick in my mind for particular reasons, whether that’s the complexity of it or the team camaraderie. However, I think one of my best experiences was a project that was based in Paris. I spent around a year commuting to Paris every week, staying in a hotel right on the edge of the Tuileries Garden. It was a tough project where I was doing performance engineering – figuring out how to make what they had already built run faster, which presented some interesting technical challenges. But in addition to that, it allowed me to see a city from a different viewpoint and to really experience the culture there. There were aspects of culture shock too, I remember being a bit grumpy one day and I just wanted square bread – no more croissants for breakfast – just a piece of toast made from square bread!

Jaws on the floor

Another thing that’s great is the flexibility and support we get here. When I was on maternity leave, I remember sitting in an NCT class with other mums when we got around to discussing how much leave we were all taking. When I mentioned I was taking a year and talked about our maternity pay policy, I was suddenly in a room of ‘jaws on the floor’. It seems that a lot of those mums had struggled with their maternity pay or while they have been off, their jobs have changed or even disappeared. As my role is in consulting, I knew I would just move on to a new project because that’s what we do here. I think as you become more senior you also get more opportunity to define your work style and your role. For example, I have a rule where I do not work between 5pm and 8pm – I leave the office and will not take a call until my daughter’s in bed, we’ve had our cuddles, had our stories and had our playtime. If I need to work from home, I can do that too. It’s not always easy though – the nature of my job means I do need to travel but I’ve managed to have trips to India where I’m only on the ground for two days rather than a week. For me, it’s about building the right team around me, creating the flexibility and putting the structure in place to make that balance work, and at Accenture I’ve got the freedom to do that.

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