At first, blockchain was an area of personal interest. Going back about two years ago, there was a lot of interest within my team about how it could be applied and where it could all go. That’s what’s great about working with people who are passionate about technology – people share in the excitement around what’s new. We started looking at blockchain as an area of interest and, I'd say, a side-of-desk activity at first.
It was something that we were really interested in, and then we reached a point where our discussions centred around how could we bring blockchain to our clients. Accenture saw the potential in the space and the rest is history. From there, I’ve had the opportunity to develop my knowledge and skills in the area, and we’ve built a team and a practice around it.
From a financial services perspective, blockchain is fascinating because it has the potential to solve major issues around exchanging value digitally. But also from a more social angle, it has real potential to transform people's lives. We see that in the work Accenture is doing with the United Nations on the ID2020 programme, which is looking at how to use blockchain to establish documented identities for refugees. With ID2020, we are helping give displaced people an identity, and hopefully with that security as they search for a better future. Those sorts of applications as a technology have really far-reaching and positive benefits to society as a whole. It’s massively exciting.
There is no single set of characteristics that make a great Accenture consultant. In my experience, I think it helps if you’re getting into it for the right reasons. You need to have a passion for technology and its role in our lives – it can't be something that you're scared of.
Also, you can't just be interested too narrowly in solving business problems, although that's effectively why we use technology. You do need to be naturally inquisitive and be continually learning about wider aspects because it’s all constantly evolving, all the time.
For me, I've always had an interest in technology. I had a computer at age nine, which was an Amstrad. (This probably shows my age.) After graduating, I started out as an analyst at Experian and then quickly moved into technology services, doing project management delivery of large-scale projects. This gave me a very broad experience of different technologies. My work ran the gamut from application development through to data centres, networking, security and more. Then I moved to Accenture, where I've been helping clients deliver large technology transformation programmes for the last ten years.
I guess you could say that passion I felt as a kid in the dawn of the PC era has only kept growing.