Doing ‘goodwill’ with my consulting skills and VR tech
April 15, 2021
April 15, 2021
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When people ask what it’s like working at one of the world’s biggest professional services companies, I tell them it’s really like having multiple jobs.
And that’s a good thing.
Since joining Accenture in 2015, I’ve worked in financial services, consulted for a hospitality giant and conducted strategic analysis for a consumer-packaged goods firm. Now, I’m leading a pro-bono project with Goodwill® to help people impacted by the criminal justice system transition to the workforce.
The work I’m doing sits at the intersection of people, technology and finance—and it’s making a difference in the world.
My path to Accenture started at Florida A&M University, where I completed a five-year Bachelor’s/MBA program. I interned with Accenture for two consecutive summers as a student before I was hired full-time as a financial services analyst.
My first client engagement was an anti-money-laundering project for a major financial services corporation. That assignment helped me get my feet wet on topics such as fraud and building safeguards against financial schemes.
I gained experience interviewing key stakeholders, identifying pain points that drag down performance and recognizing areas for process improvement. I learned how these contributions can transform organizations.
Like many consultants, I got used to working with teams distributed across wide geographic areas that collaborated through virtual platforms to get the job done. Little did I know how well some of those skills would serve me as I kicked off a new technology-focused, pro-bono project in the middle of a pandemic.
As part of our company’s commitment to promoting a culture of equality, Accenture launched a project to help people facing historic challenges to obtain sustainable employment and economic mobility. We found an excellent partner in Goodwill, the world’s leading workforce provider placing someone in a job every 30 seconds of every business day.
While we’re familiar with Goodwill for its retail thrift stores, the organization uses the revenue from the sale of goods to create job training and employment placement opportunities as well as support services, such as child care, mentoring and transportation, for populations that face serious challenges to gaining and keeping employment.
Accenture partnered with 10 Goodwill community-based, nonprofit organizations in eight states to purchase Oculus VR headsets for use in the initiative called Project OVERCOME. Participants take part in virtual-reality mock interviews that mimic real-world settings to confidently practice and build upon their job interviewing skills.
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"Project OVERCOME has allowed me to put a lot of the skills I’ve learned as a consultant to use for social good."
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The application also features recorded interviews with people that have been involved in the criminal justice system and found sustainable employment through Goodwill’s reintegration programs.
The project, which is currently in a proof-of-concept phase, has been a revelation for me in learning about the barriers facing individuals who have been justice-involved. Note that 10,000 people get released from American state and federal prisons every week, and 650,000 individuals are released from prison every year, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.
Many people who have been formerly incarcerated face tremendous struggles as they reenter communities and attempt to gain stability. Goodwill’s experience in workplace reentry makes the organization an excellent partner to help address this problem.
Project OVERCOME has allowed me to put a lot of the skills I’ve learned as a consultant to use for social good. As a result of virtual work and social distancing requirements, the filming, production and post-production phase of the interview scenarios were all done virtually.
This project officially kicked off in September and runs through May. Prior to OVERCOME—which includes an emphasis on the V for virtual and the R for reality—I had limited exposure to virtual reality work. It’s also opened my eyes to the possibilities of virtual reality in workforce settings.
Based on our findings after this pilot phase, we’ll be able to take this technology to other organizations looking to use virtual reality for training purposes. I’m grateful to be part of a team that’s innovating to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity—for a greater good.
Join us, and do extraordinary things.
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