I love my job! I love the people that I work with, I enjoy the different challenges and the diversity this affords and, I really like the part of the business that I work in. I’m with our Quality Engineering practice (so testing) and predominately involved at the later end of the delivery lifecycle, which means I really get to see the benefit provided to the clients.
I generally work with large-scale IT clients sometimes as part of a wider Accenture team if we’re doing the build and development too, but often just as a pure quality engineering service to support the testing activity that takes place after another supplier has done the development. I manage a team of people who can be based in the UK on the client site but often they’re at an offshore location.
I think it’s important to create that ‘One Team’ feel even although we work across locations. It’s very different if you’re sitting in the UK and the client is speaking to you daily, but if you don’t have any direct interaction that can feel quite isolating. I love being out in the offshore delivery centres with the wider team and have travelled there a lot. I really enjoy seeing how things work over there, meeting people face-face and having the chance to articulate to them what the client is like and what they are trying to achieve as a business. I like to get the client involved with the team by taking them out to the delivery centres too – this helps everyone feel valued and, in my experience, clients really enjoy going out to meet the team. Another thing I find beneficial is to bring resources over here and get them embedded with the team at the client site, so they can then learn and understand the dynamics of that client, the ethos of what they are trying to achieve and then they can take that back to the team in their offshore location. All of this helps to build that ‘One Team’ feel.
I’m the non-techie in technology. I did a psychology degree and joined Accenture’s Analyst Consulting Group around ten years ago. As soon as I finished my training in Chicago I went straight up to Newcastle to do a test role and I ended up staying on that client for about five years. At the beginning I was doing different test roles with different teams, then I moved to become a test lead and then a test manager. When I got promoted to manager, I wanted to try something new and went to work in Information Risk Management, but it wasn’t for me. I quickly moved back into doing test management and worked on a programme where we offshored all of the testing that had been done to date in the UK and that effectively meant that I offshored my role as well so, I went and did a test manager role back up in Newcastle before going off to have my first baby. When I came back from maternity leave I was very lucky to get my first London role as a Delivery Services Lead where I did the full lifecycle - so build, test and all the support functions around it. From there I was off again for my second baby and came back from maternity leave at the backend of last year. Since then I’ve been doing some sales work which has led to becoming the Quality Assurance delivery lead operating a team with a large chunk of transformative change being implemented.
The variety to learn
I’ve learnt a huge amount from every project I’ve worked on which have all been very different. I’m completely agnostic to industry so I get to work with very different clients, very different technologies, and very different services that they are offering. I love that variety, for example from working on a police custody IT system and then moving on to a trading bank, it means you can end up working with quite a varied group of individuals.
I think working in testing you learn very quickly how to be a good delivery lead because you’re always at the end of the lifecycle and you need to deliver things efficiently and be able to identify the risks and issues from just doing the work. I was very hands-on at the beginning and learnt a lot just by working with very intelligent technical people. I need to understand the technology in enough detail but I’m not deeply technical – for me I have found that to be a benefit because when I’m articulating something to clients, I tend to be able to do it in a way that they can understand.
Being able to juggle
I have two daughters (aged three and one) so did my maternity leaves quite close together. I found coming back after my first daughter was probably more challenging than my second, even though the juggle is definitely harder with two! The first time it was all just very new to me, but I was lucky to have a very supportive career counsellor and found a nice embedment back into work with an internal role before I moved on to a client. I wanted a role that was full-time, that would engage me and challenge me to push forward to the next step in my career, but at the same time I wanted to make sure it was going to be feasible for family life as well. And, it was a big role, a challenging role but it worked well. I came back earlier from my second maternity leave (after seven months) and this time I was more nervous about what I was going to be doing considering I had two young children. Again, I had a lot of support not just from my career counsellor, but also from the wider senior leadership team as the new role that I’m moving into will involve travel and time away.
I have my family, the travelling and a lot of demands pulling me in every direction, but I do really enjoy being back at work. Honestly, a lot of the time it’s about doing a juggle and sometimes you’ll feel like you’re dropping a lot of things all over the place but with the right support you manage to pick them up and keep it all going. Because my kids are very young and as my job is very demanding I don’t often make it home for bedtime, so I am quite precious (and strict) about sticking to my personal time with the girls and my husband.
Everyone that I work with is hugely supportive and I know they are likely to be doing a juggle themselves - whether they are male or female! It’s much better to be open and vocal about what you need to make the balance work rather than sit there in silence taking on more and more work and drowning in it. So, go for the opportunities but stay true to what you can do.