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Not everyone can say they’ve had the opportunity to kick off their career by exploring a variety of roles across seemingly disparate industries, all while at the same company.
As part of the Accenture Consulting Development Program, I do just that, innovating within industries ranging from resources and energy to retail and health care.
Two years into my Accenture Consulting career, I’m helping leading companies around the world transform how they operate, from a strategic and implementation perspective.
My accidental consulting journey
I was drawn to consulting almost by accident.
One of my friends was going through the recruiting process with Accenture and thought it would be a good fit for me. As a college junior with a passion for people and a “jack-of-all-trades” philosophy, it turned out that consulting was a perfect career match.
My degree focused on case-based analysis and business game-theory scenarios, which translated well into fundamentally deconstructing client problems and identifying and innovating solutions.
During the interview process, I learned that for much of management consulting, soft skills set you apart. From communication and critical thinking skills to personability (are you someone who will partner well with a client?), soft skills are just as important as technical ones.
The ability to learn quickly is also important. And you can learn virtually any skill needed for a project with an incredible library of learning and development opportunities and tools always available at Accenture.
My most challenging (and favorite) project
My favorite project was one of my most challenging, intense ones—it’s funny how that works.
I was working with a client for a few months when their CEO asked our client account lead for Accenture’s point of view (POV) on strategic opportunities for the future of health care.
Given my background with the client and in that space, I collaborated with our global subject-matter experts and became part of a two-person team to author that POV. Being just 23 years old and ideating with global leaders on the future of a multibillion-dollar industry was an unparalleled experience.
Not only did I immerse myself in the trends and disruption facing the healthcare industry, I also identified new, strategic opportunities to recommend to their CEO.
No day is typical in consulting
I always laugh a bit when I’m asked the “what’s a typical day-in-the-life?” question. Part of consulting is not really having a typical day. Every day is a new adventure, and that’s part of what makes the job fun and exciting.
My weeks are a mix of client meetings, content creation and prepping for and executing large-scale workshops with client leadership. Fridays are often a special type of day, usually filled with incredible networking opportunities when everyone is back from a client site. From connecting with work friends, scheduling calls and finishing up client work to happy hours, the best part of Accenture, hands down, is our people.
We are a firm of some of the smartest, most passionate, downright nice and supportive people. Everyone cares—about our clients, about our work, about each other.
That’s not just another corporate platitude. You can (and I have!) set up time with anyone, at any level, including leadership, and they are happy to connect and ask, “How can I help?”
Accenture’s culture is one of support and opportunity. Whatever you want to do, if you seek them out, there are people and resources there to enable you.
My friends and I started a movement called “I Am >,” an effort to shift the conversation from work-life balance to work-life blend and identify new ways to bring our passions into the workplace. What started with a few analysts around a whiteboard soon got leadership support and funding, and we held a summit to further celebrate our individual passions.
Advice for future consultants
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to just be yourself. It may sound simple, but it can be one of the hardest things to do. Being able to go into our office, or onto a client site and just be genuine in how you present yourself and your ideas empowers you to build meaningful relationships and affect real change.
And remember, it’s okay to not know something. Maybe you’re not an expert (yet) on a particular subject, or you’re not yet sure of the direction you want your career to take. That’s okay. There will always be uncertainty; sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it and the confidence will come in time.
Figure out your passion, your excitement for a certain type of work. Chase the work you want to do, with people you want to work with, and the rest will fall into line.
Drive innovation and transform the world with the work you do, every day. Find your fit with Accenture.
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