I’ve worked at Accenture for 24 years and am now Managing Director for Accenture Strategy in the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Turkey. I’m from a generation that helped pave the path for women in the workplace. Based on my experiences, I’d like to share advice with women on how to succeed and rise through the ranks in large, global companies like Accenture.
Many people ask me how I feel about gender balance in the workplace and to give them advice as to ways women just beginning their careers can succeed. One thing I always share is that at Accenture, we have access to a variety of networks, groups and communities that encourage women to collaborate and find our own work/life balance — and achieve on both fronts. We are also lucky to be able to take advantage of an abundance of great mentors who are there to guide, inspire and encourage us along the way.
Our leadership coaching program was specifically designed for women in leadership. It’s a particularly effective way to offer support to women in a world where diversity and gender equality are not as common as they should be. The program offers individualized career planning advice, side-by-side coaching and the overall benefit of offering the opportunity to learn from senior leaders’ experience and stories.
In addition to this program, Accenture also offers many digital communities and virtual platforms where women are supported and guided in our career journey. Are we working on the right job, with the right client and in the right environment? As soon as you’re registered with a group, you are immediately able to network with like-minded people.
I’ve had excellent coaches and leadership role models throughout my career with Accenture, and most of them were male. Nevertheless, they helped me to figure out what I am able to do best, to help plan my career course and ways to best focus on it. Being in a leadership position myself, I believe the idea of mentorship is invaluable. It’s vital not only for career progression, but also to learn more about where the company is headed and how to play a part in this evolution.
As an example, businesses in emerging markets are experiencing considerable evolution. In the last year, we have made major investments in our innovation environment. So, we are reaching out to other groups, offering end-to-end support using technology innovation and figuring out how this can help the business. Take a technology such as robotics. How would robotics help you and your company overcome certain challenges in the back office or in the middle office? How could it automate even better and find a path for the next stage of an operating model? Together with our clients, we envision how these technologies can help. And as these technologies change the future for our clients—and for the world—finding the right mentor or coach is vital to being able to take advantage of the career opportunities this new world presents.
When mentees, regardless of their gender, are being guided by a senior figure who knows about plans and projects for the future, they gain knowledge and experience that they couldn’t have obtained otherwise. And at Accenture, we are lucky that we have a huge array of experienced senior leaders who are willing to serve in an advisory role.
From time to time, I'm slightly criticized by female colleagues who tell me that I’m “super tough.” Yes, I’m tough, but I grew up as a feminist. It’s in my blood to be passionate about diversity and gender equality at Accenture, and beyond. When people are following the same agenda and a strong network of women in the workplace is growing, it increases our chances of being successful and making change happen faster.
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