Abizer Rangwala
Managing Director, Technology Strategy, Boston
December 11, 2018

My Best Career Advice for Strategy Consultants? Show, Don’t Tell.

What have I learned during nearly 20 years at Accenture?

Without question, it’s the importance of forging close partnerships—with my clients and with the people on my team. In fact, some of my clients are my best friends.

Consulting is a relationship business. Clients hire us because of our people, their expertise. I work with clients predominantly in the insurance industry and the wider financial services arena. Helping them drive value through large-scale IT transformation and strategy, their goals become my goals.

Collaboration is everything
You’re never going to get the right outcome by adopting an “us and them” approach.

The name of the consulting game is collaboration. This is an age when there are so many technologies disrupting a client’s business model, from artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to the internet of things (IoT). As consultants and strategists, it’s our job to stay ahead of the disruptions and lead our clients into the New.

The thing is, clients don’t want to be told the right answer; they want to be able to see it. So, it’s not about just getting on with the job. It’s about telling the story—letting clients know why you’ve made a decision and sharing the metrics that back it up. Above all, it’s about working collaboratively using a design thinking approach to arrive at the right solution.

Collaboration makes it easier to manage expectations. I’ve noticed that when some strategists move up to the management level, they struggle to break bad news. Having the confidence to deliver any news on a project, good or bad is an important part of the job.

Clients suspect that there will be issues along the way—that’s why they hired us; otherwise, they would do it themselves. It’s how we collaborate with clients to manage those issues that ultimately determines the success or failure of a project.

Relationships generate insights
Building close, trusting relationships with clients enables you to see the business from their vantage point. It also allows you to gain deeper insights into their needs. The outcome is better proposals and better results.

For example, I worked on a proposal for an insurance client, which involved putting together the strategy and operating model for a multimillion-dollar outsourcing opportunity—at a time when outsourcing was at its peak.

I was the go-to person for the overall operating model, and after four months of collaborating with the client, we were awarded the project. We delivered new capabilities with faster speed to market in a more efficient cost model. It was great for the client and for Accenture. It was also great for my career, as it helped lead to my promotion to managing director.

I also worked on a project for a global bank to take a significant cost out of its technology organization. We identified where and how that could be possible. After working with the client, we developed hypotheses, identified areas of opportunity and built a roadmap to achieve the savings. Again, we made a tremendous impact on the client’s business and for Accenture as well.

Not that it’s a one-way highway in terms of helping our clients. Many of my clients have been my coaches and mentors as my career has evolved. They’re people I can confide in easily. I count many among my best friends; I even go on a yearly golfing trip with one client!

My tight-knit, global team
I’ve spent half my life at Accenture and have made what I’m sure will be lifelong friends—I’ve been in their weddings, they’ve been in mine.We’re a tight-knit, global team in Technology Strategy, and I connect and work with people from all over the world.

I’ve also had great support from leaders who have shared their knowledge and personally sponsored and mentored me. It just goes to show that in a professional environment, a personal touch goes a long way.

Ready to take your technology strategy consulting career to the next level, and do work that truly makes a difference? Join the Technology Strategy team.

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