Simon, let’s get right to it. Where are we in terms of as-a-Service?
It’s no secret that digital technologies are changing the way our clients do business, so of course the services world is fundamentally changing as well. I believe that Accenture Operations is at the forefront of this evolution. Our strategy is to combine our market-leading business process, infrastructure, security and cloud service capabilities to design, build and deliver true as-a-Service offerings, and the market says we’re doing this pretty well.
Your role in all this, briefly.
I’m directly responsible for the evolution and growth of all Accenture Operations Business Process Services (BPS) offerings. The good news is there are about 85,000 BPS professionals working hard to deliver on our strategy and making Accenture and myself look good every day. Staying ahead of the technology curve keeps us busy and it’s challenging but that’s how I like it.
How precisely do you plan to stay ahead?
Our strategic growth priority for Accenture Operations is to define, scale and own the as-a-Service space while continuing to grow our core Business Process Services (BPS) and Infrastructure Services businesses. To do this we have a strong culture of innovation as part of our daily life backed up through access to Accenture Labs, Innovation Centers, Design Studios and academic partnerships with leading universities.
Tell me more about Accenture Operations?
We’re a $7 billion business with more than 114,000 professionals globally focused on delivering business outcomes for our clients. Our capabilities are underpinned by intelligent technology, staffed by highly skilled talent with deep domain and industry expertise and powered by predictive and prescriptive analytics. Importantly, at Accenture, the sum of our combined businesses is greater than the individual parts.
What about Business Process Services (BPS)?
When a client wants to start delivering business outcomes, the first thing they look at are their business processes. Our deep expertise in business processes starts with our people, whose learning and extensive industry, technical and functional experience give us the know-how to help drive measurable business outcomes.
How does automation fit in?
Now more than ever automation is key. We’ve invested in a range of automation and analytics technologies—business process management tools, robotic process automation and artificial intelligence combined with predictive and prescriptive analytics. The result is true “plug-and-play” business processes driving new levels of performance, productivity, compliance, quality, data-driven insights and user experience. Plus, by eliminating many process steps and increasing productivity on what remains we are freeing up talent to focus on higher-value analysis, decision-making and innovation.
How do you keep your energy level so high?
I have always looked to be stretched intellectually and have tried to make things happen. I have had the great good fortune to find success in both objectives in my career with Accenture during the last 35-plus years. There is always something exciting on the horizon. That’s what gets me up in the morning. And there’s an energy here. It’s like team sports when everybody is in sync and you get a surge in performance.
Let’s switch gears. You played rugby while you were at university?
I played for 12 years and enjoyed it tremendously. It taught me a lot about teamwork, competition and playing to your strengths—having a plan, anticipating what the other side is going to do, surprising people and acknowledging the contribution everyone on the team makes. I also rowed in college and early career—to me that is the ultimate team sport—once you get 8 people doing everything in unison you are unstoppable.
You’ve been with Accenture your entire career. What was your path at the company?
Frankly? Unimaginable looking back to my innocent 22-year-old self embarking on my first job in the consulting division of an accounting firm! It’s been more than 35 years, and when you’re continually challenged and having fun it goes by in the blink of an eye. I’ve been privileged to hold a variety of delivery, solution and sales roles in Europe, Latin America and North America. Prior to assuming my current position in January 2012, I led the company’s emerging industry-specific BPS business and held the role of Global BPS Sales lead for the Communications, Media & Technology group. Before that, I helped found Accenture’s Supply Chain, Procurement and Utilities BPS businesses.
What are some of the current challenges your clients face?
Technology will always improve but right now one of the primary client challenges I see is helping organizations to make the most of their digital technology—which means focusing on the people who can really use it—the talent. High performers are looking at Business Process Services to get access to the best talent and improve the quality of talent in their retained organization.
What do you believe sets BPS at Accenture apart?
The numbers speak volumes. We’re a BPS pioneer with more than 25 years’ experience and we’re the acknowledged market leader. I mean, IAOP named us a top outsourcing provider for eleven years running. We support client operations in more than 150 countries, we have more than 50 delivery locations and support over 45 languages.
Where did you go to school, Simon?
I graduated from the University of Cambridge with a MA in mathematics.
Accenture is a busy place, what do you do to unwind?
I like to spend time with my family. My wife and I have three awesome children aged 17 to 23—we delight in being with them when they can fit us into their busy schedules! I love to read and we enjoy the theatre and films. My weakness is enjoying good food, some of which I cook, and fine wine—one of the reasons I spend a lot of time cycling and swimming!
Why are you proud to work at Accenture?
I would have to pick on Stewardship, one of our core values. Over my career I have seen this operate over so many different dimensions. The most obvious is growing our people—in my time here the firm has grown from 2,000 to 370,000 worldwide and every person here or who has left us has been personally guided through their time at Accenture. In the last decade, we have taken that into the communities around us and our Skills to Succeed program is on track by 2020 to equip three million people around the world with the skills to get a job or build a business.