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Women: Take Risks, Keep Learning, Give Back

By Francesca Paola De Prisco, Manager, Health & Public Service, Accenture Consulting, Rome

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I came across my current employer by pure chance. One day, I spotted a flyer for a Career Day on a notice board at my university. Out of curiosity, I sent my résumé, and, in less than one month, I was already at work on my first project in Rome.

Everyone kept telling me that my time in consulting would be a temporary phase, like joining a gym to get in shape for my “real” life-long career. And they were right, but only partly.

I’ve now been working at Accenture for 10 years. Looking back, I realize that I’ve had so many chances to make the most of my potential and cultivate my talents. It’s hard to summarize in a few short lines. I’ve matured as a person and as a professional and have learned that for us to grow, our willpower must triumph over our everyday mindset and our fear of change.

“For us to grow, our willpower must triumph over our everyday mindset and our fear of change.”

Building my professional identity was a process made up of different actions and decisions. That process was supported by the many opportunities made available to me through direct on-the-job experience and continuous training. I do my best to pass this knowledge on to others every day.

On-the-job experience

After spending my initial years in Rome working for public administration clients, the time had come to explore newer openings. I dived in at the deep end and, to the amazement of my friends, family and many colleagues, opted for a transfer to the Middle East for a year and a half.

Working in a country that is dramatically different from your home country requires what Brandeis University professor and thought leader Andy Molinsky defines as “global dexterity,” or the capacity to adapt to your new cultural context without compromising your own authenticity. The need for this skill is particularly strong in a country like Saudi Arabia, where women today are pioneering new female identities.

The time I spent in the Arab world was the period in which I grew the most both as a professional and as a person. It allowed me to frequent a different women’s universe, a space apart, where men cannot enter.

Francesca De Prisco

Me in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Continuous training

When you work in consulting, you never stop studying: technologies and work methodologies change over time. To stay competitive, you have to continuously nurture your knowledge.

I can’t remember the number of courses I’ve taken, in Italy and abroad, since I began working. I have had countless opportunities to build new competences, acquire professional certification and develop my personal capacity to interact with others.

Every year, I set a personal program of training that is in keeping with my aspirations and the company’s business goals. Our training programs are never lacking in activities designed for women only, because men and women are different universes with distinct approaches to work.

Growing others

The idea of helping others to grow has always excited me. To be able to give back part of what I receive every day has always struck me as the best way of acknowledging its value.

This was why I signed up for Skills to Succeed, Accenture’s global Corporate Citizenship program, which runs dedicated projects worldwide to equip more than 3 million people by 2020 with the skills needed to secure employment or start a business.

In particular, I contributed to Job Stations, a pro-bono project that runs teleworking centers in Rome and Milan to help people with mental illness build the skills that will enable them to gradually rejoin the workplace. The journey traveled with the training participants to help them rebuild confidence in their capacities and the constant sharing of the progress they made each day enriched me immensely as a human being.

I subsequently applied to join our counseling and tutoring programs that offer guidance to young talents. At the moment, I am following five young people, two of whom live in other continents. I periodically talk to all of them about experiences and aspirations as part of a mutually enriching relationship that will allow us to build a future that is bigger than our today.