I have the distinct pleasure of taking over the Accenture blog for the coming week. Monday has now come and almost gone, and even though I promised myself to have this written much earlier, here I am sitting on my sofa at 8pm...
Wait a second... back up. Why am I writing in English? OK, here's the all-about-me-in-a-nutshell-that-none-of-you-will-bother-to-read part. On the off-chance that you do read it, here goes: I'm a Canadian born to a Belgian father and an Irish/Scottish/etc mother, married to a Swede who I met while we were both living in Italy. The lowest common denominator in all of that is English, and I will use as an excuse for my laziness the fact that English is also a very important language in Accenture, one in which everyone in the company needs to be able to communicate effectively. The fact is that I actually speak more Swedish than English these days, but it is rare (in any language, for many of us) in this digital world to write so many proper sentences with so many full words. "amzg how u end up just txting like this. Gr8." It's a bit refreshing to actually write in paragraphs. So there, you are stuck with English this week, because that's just the most efficient way for me to write in paragraphs.
I have a rather long relationship with Accenture, but I am a relatively new hire. Let me explain…
I actually began my career in industry, in a few different oil companies and a few different refineries in Canada. Look up places like Scotford, Alberta, and Nanticoke, Ontario and you will see some of the shiny metropolises I spent the few years after my university studies. I actually had some great jobs in the refineries, as a production scheduler, operations supervisor, planner, etc. Those were experiences that still contribute daily to the work I do with my clients in Accenture these days.
McMaster University vs. Simcoe, Ontario. One is a quaint, bustling, young and vibrant community of 15000 brilliant minds. The other is Simcoe.
No joke, and Takeaway #1 of today’s blog – take advantage of every opportunity to build your skills – they matter if you let them! My consulting career actually began shortly thereafter and I joined a small firm in Toronto specializing in, yes, refinery IT. Lots of projects in lots of different countries and lots of flying. Such a niche market means being a road warrior. Or at least it did 20 (yikes!) years ago. Fast forward through a few jobs an MBA and countless hotel rooms, and despite a few-year stint in a beer brewery (random, but fun!), I was suddenly somewhat an expert in refinery IT. And while on a big project in Kuwait in 2008, I met some people from Accenture, and began working as a subcontractor on various projects around the world. Turns out (Takeaway #2) Accenture is really good at A LOT of very specific things, like refinery IT. Hard to imagine, right? You don’t come to this company and automatically become a generalist.
Eventually I joined Accenture as an employee in Abu Dhabi in 2012. That office was new at the time, and Accenture was betting big on a then untapped market. It worked, the office is thriving now and some of those people I started with have done really well. Takeaway #3: Accenture invests in business areas with a future, and in the people to make it happen. I in the meantime left the company for various reasons, but was still subcontracting regularly on different projects. Still flying, still sleeping more nights in hotels than at home.
And in the meantime two kids have come along: Olivia and Nicole, now 4.5 and 2. My little princesses. Also the reason that the abovementioned life of flying around, working 3 weeks straight, 8 timezones away, coming home for a weekend and doing at again on Monday was not going to work long-term. So I started discussing the idea of re-joining Accenture with the people who would eventually become my colleagues, and in 2015 it happened. And I am actually traveling less than ever. Takeaway #4: Accenture no long means 85% on the road. This is a company that values each individual’s needs and does its best to work around them. That’s not always possible, let’s be realistic. But there is respect for it.
Accenture is a huge company; around 400.000 people, it’s as big as many major cities. But it is surprisingly easy to get to know different groups. Accenture is like a bunch of small companies or rather communities, all overlapping each other. It was nice to land somewhere so familiar but yet so different from the company I worked in before. Accenture has, during that time, grown tremendously; I remember when I was employed before there were 240.000 of us. Think of that growth in just a few years… And grown into a powerhouse of New IT: Cloud, Digital, Big Data, Security, all now massive business lines that have a real impact on the way society and IT interact. No special takeaway here. Or maybe a bunch of them. Sift through them and call them Takeaways #5 through 8. Accenture is the place to be if you want to “get” New IT. Don’t believe me? Ask Gartner.
So what do I do these days? I focus on one of these small “companies” within Accenture called Assets and Operations Services. Essentially, it’s working with our clients in the natural resources industries to bring them solutions from Accenture with a focus on improving the efficiency, safety, profitability, etc. of their assets. An asset could be a fuel station, a paper mill, a gas plant, a copper mine, or yes, even a refinery.
An example of how deep Accenture’s skills and experience goes: think of the resources to pull on when we want to take a new idea to a Mining customer. Or a refinery. Or a paper mill. And so on… Diagram - Accenture
So I’m no longer “just refinery IT”. I’m fuel retailing one moment. I’m big data in a paper mill the next. I think about where to implement Robotic Process Automation (software robots, not physical ones) next in a steel company. Or I might help my old friends shape an opportunity for production management systems for a refinery in Saudi Arabia. Or work with a new group I didn’t even know we had in India to shape a solution for Asset Management for a utilities provider in the Baltics. Or introduce a client we’ve never worked with before to our approach to IT strategy. Takeaway #9: Regardless of your experience level or how honed your skills are, you will grow tremendously in this company. And if you want variation, there is no better place. Not all our roles are like that, we also have the best and most focused delivery experts on Earth. And plenty of room for people who want to focus on deep, technical details.
But I thrive on variety. So if you want to get a taste of what I’m working on, and how life in Accenture ties into life outside Accenture, then read along with me this week. Looking forward to it!
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