Building teams from the ground up is what I’ve done throughout my career. It’s what I enjoy. It allows me to bring a more entrepreneurial approach to what I do. Yes, I’ve worked for large organizations but I’ve been tasked with growing their businesses in new areas with smaller teams and fewer rules. This has taught me what makes for a strong team – and, I believe, women thrive in these environments. It’s the kind of preparation women in leadership roles really need.
The basic building block is technical strength. Being in strategy consulting, we need bright people who know what they’re doing. I try to achieve this by attracting the best graduates from their cohort. This gives us fresh blood and energy. I balance this with people who have an impressive level of specialist experience. In my case (international banking), this means bringing together graduates from the best schools from all over the world with people who have worked in high-profile roles in banks and payment companies; or those who have strong strategy consulting backgrounds. This creates the solid base I need so I can build.
Then there’s the interpersonal side. It sounds obvious but you have to source people who excel in a team environment. This is particularly true when you’re starting out. There is a need to collaborate with and support one another. Some people have the perfect technical background; they’re geniuses. But put them in a team and it’s a disaster. They can’t function.
For me, creating a successful team within Accenture Strategy is all about the bond. Sometimes this means we become personal friends. We mix together socially; we may even know each other’s families. In my experience, women excel in teams. We look out for one another and see the team in the same way we might see our family. We work long hours together and invest a great deal of time in problem solving. So it’s vital we all get along.
I’ve had a lot of very good women in my teams. They’ve gone on to take up very senior positions in other strategy consulting firms. I like to think they’ve gone on to do well because of the experience they’ve gained from being in one of my teams. I’m very proud of them.