Whitney Langston
Management Consulting Manager, Talent & Organization, New York
March 05, 2019

How the London Sewers Expanded My World View

How the London Sewers Expanded My World View

Working on a unique project. Getting acclimated to a new culture. Seeing how teams in a different country operate. Living in an extremely diverse community.

These are just some of the things I experienced when I moved from the U.S. to London, spending three years working on a major capital project to upgrade the London sewer system.

A distinct view
A major upgrade to the city’s sewer system might not sound very glamorous, but there was far more to the project than just sewers!

To put it in context, the system was built in the 1800s and was an amazing feat of engineering that has stood the test of time. But while still fit for purpose, the sewers are at full capacity and too small for a growing capital population. Our client was funding the building of a new super-sewer system, with the aim of attracting investors to ultimately take it over.

The project involved creating new teams, such as External Affairs, Finance, Operations and Marketing. There were so many aspects to consider: new processes for day-to-day workings, a website to keep the public informed of what was going on, an employee portal and new billing systems—we had to address them all.

There was a strong community focus, too.

I saw it through people’s eyes. If it rained and the sewers overflowed, could they still brush their teeth in the morning?

Being a consultant in the Talent and Organization function meant working with, and learning from, some incredible people. Almost every Accenture executive and leader involved in the project had worked on major capital projects for leading organizations across the globe, and I was able to collaborate with some of the world’s most brilliant engineers and project managers about the technical ins and outs.

A project with an incredible vibe
Although this was an infrastructure project, there was an incredible startup vibe. We all sat in an open-space office and picked each other’s brains. Engaging with different groups meant we could be involved in the whole story and add value.

Diverse thoughts, skillsets and experiences were brought to the table, which generated different views. I loved working with talented professionals I’d never met before in such a collaborative way.

I also gained so much by embedding myself in the English culture. It enhanced my emotional intelligence and taught me how to adapt to new situations. It also improved the way I relate to others.

It was a fascinating experience and I’d encourage anyone to take advantage of the opportunity to work in new environments and places. Throw yourself into it. Ask questions, get to know the feel of the community and the cultural nuances; learn everything you can, because it’s life changing.

Want to do work that’s transforming the way we work and live? Find your fit with Accenture.

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