Michelle Mensah talks about her progression on our Finance Graduate Scheme, her work with the Accenture African Caribbean Network, and why she’s passionate about helping young people.
I joined Accenture’s three-year Finance Graduate Scheme in 2014. The aim of the programme is to give you an all-round insight into finance and how the business works, and I spent time in both the Client Financial Management (CFM) team and Corporate Development Transaction Services. At the end of the scheme, I had the opportunity to move into a new department: CFM Transition. When Accenture has won a deal, we’re the people who transition it from the Pricing team to the Delivery team. There’s a big focus on ventures and acquisitions at the moment so it’s an exciting time to be part of the team.
Aside from my day job, I’m involved in the Accenture African Caribbean Network. The AACN is very dear to me as it allows black professionals to come together in a safe place and focus on career development. The AACN runs the ‘Accelerate Programme’ which helps us to understand our brand, how to progress, the roles of mentor and sponsor and how to network with key individuals. Through Accelerate I attended a Future Leaders course, which helped me to think strategically about my career. The course provided a very open and frank forum: we asked questions and challenged the firm’s leaders; in turn, they challenged us. For this year’s Black History Month, Accent on Ethnicity organised a once in a lifetime opportunity to see an in-demand young performer, Joe Sellman-Leava and explore issues of heritage, race and immigration. There was also a Caribbean pop-up shop and a session on mental health.
Earlier this year, I volunteered to project manage an initiative the AACN was planning in conjunction with our Inclusion & Diversity team: a two-day workshop with 60 young black graduates from The Aleto Foundation (formally The Powerlist Foundation) charity. From visiting venues to drafting the agenda, I was involved in organising, shaping and delivering the workshop. It was hard work but it was something I really wanted to do. When I was at uni I didn’t know about companies like Accenture. The workshop gave black graduates the chance to network with our team and we demonstrated the technologies we’re investing in such as AI and robotics. Above all, we showed that with determination, ambition and enthusiasm, you can apply to a company like Accenture, be accepted and enjoy a great career.
Graduates got a lot out of the workshop and so did I. I’m passionate about working with young people, not just young black people, especially if they haven’t had the best start in life. They are our future so we need to understand some of the challenges they face, the situations they find themselves in and why they do what they do.
I’m also passionate about singing. I’m part of a gospel choir and a few years ago we sang at a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall. That was absolutely amazing – words can’t describe the buzz you get standing in front of all those people, the sense of ‘Wow! I did it!’ I’m also into Zumba. Life can be stressful so what better than to dance the stress away!