June 13, 2019
Mixing it up as a Technical Architect
By: Sorcha Cotter

I have had quite a varied career journey to date… I started with an integrated Masters in Geophysics. My ambitions at this point were of working in the oil industry thinking it would be a great career with lots of earning potential! However, as part of my Masters project I spent six months interning with an oil services company and realised Oil & Gas wasn’t the industry for me. From there I went into medical research, a seemingly odd choice, but in fact the physical concepts of sub-surface imaging and medical imaging are the same! So, I had the transferable skills. After writing up my research, I went on to spend two years with a healthcare technology provider, which I really enjoyed. There was one small thing that I couldn’t ignore, I wanted more exposure to different technologies. I didn’t want to be limited in what I was learning so early on in my career. I felt I needed to broaden my experience, so my next step was joining Accenture which I hoped would provide me with the opportunity to do just that - (and I was right!).

Why join as an Analyst?

I joined as an Analyst on the Technology Architecture Graduate programme almost two years ago. Joining as a Technology Analyst meant I could work on projects in a variety of different roles; from a developer to a project manager. As an analyst there is no requirement to specialise in a skillset (e.g. programming language) or technology which was perfect for me! I moved out of the graduate programme when I was promoted, and I now work as an Architect within the AWS (Amazon Web Services) Business Group. This doesn’t mean that I only work on AWS but has allowed me to build specialised skills in this area.

I had a choice when choosing a business unit to move into, however, I was inspired by an MD at a Leadership Breakfast who introduced me to AWS and I have him to thank for supporting me in gaining certifications on AWS.

As a Technology Analyst I felt so supported, not only by my peers but also by senior members within Technology. I think cliché as it sounds, the people are a huge part of why I have enjoyed my journey so much.

Working as an Architect

I’m currently a Technical Architect, which means my work involves translating the business requirements into a technical solution design. It’s my responsibility to communicate the design to rest of the team and more specifically support the developers who will build the solution and products owners who will ensure that the design meets business requirements. My role varies from project to project and personally I like to do a bit of development myself because I want to expand my skills on that side of things; I like being hands-on.

If I’m honest, when I joined Accenture I thought that I’d be here for a couple of years, gain some experience and then go to a start-up or go contracting. However, my outlook changed early into my Accenture journey for a number of reasons.

Why I enjoy Accenture

When it comes to what I enjoy most about Accenture, there are 3 areas:

  1. People have been fantastic at supporting me on projects. Everyone is here to help you – nobody has ever said no to me but maybe that’s because I ask all the right people or the right questions! If you’re prepared to put the effort in and start the conversation, you will always find the support.

  2. Training is something that I anticipated I would be given before starting and I can safely say, there’s a huge amount on offer. I’m actively encouraged and supported through training and industry certifications. We have an online portal where everything is centralised and very easy to follow to find what you want to do.

  3. Project variety – you need to be proactive but if you want to work on a specific technology then you find the project with that technology. There is a scheduling tool to help you find a role, but often the opportunities come from talking to people.

I can now genuinely see my career at Accenture and I can see where I want to get to. I guess my short-term goal is to become more specialised in AWS, (hopefully get promoted), and continue to learn new technology and more generally build my experience. I’ll likely stick to AWS but also pick up some other Cloud technologies too. I’m currently part of an innovation team working with new technology, which means we are able to design Cloud applications using new technologies, which is really exciting!

Mixing it up!
Probably the most fun I’ve had (recently) has been whilst preparing for the UK AWS Summit when I did some work with Liquid Studio. This was a ‘side of desk’ project where I helped re-build a UK AI Mixologist (an Alexa-powered bartender) .

I again got into this by chance, I wanted to go to the conference, so asked and our AWS Business Lead said yes! With the premise that I would need to help-out with what they were preparing for the conference, the AI Mixologist. It was a fun and hands-on mini-project to get involved with and a good way to learn all the different AWS services.

Aside from technology I organise the training for the Accenture Triathlon Club, which I joined as soon as I started. I’m also supporting our sponsorship for British Triathlon, working very closely between the Tri Club and our Accenture sponsorship team. We do a lot of event sponsorship as Accenture are sponsoring the Mixed Team Relays – a new event as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games!

I took part in the Accenture Mixed Relay Triathlon at Canary Wharf last year, and this year we’re trying to win it so I’m putting in much more training! I like to promote a healthy balance between work and non-work - sport allows me to create this. I think it’s important, especially when you’re technical, to have an escape from your computer every now and then!

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