Today my work at Accenture focuses on our Public Safety client portfolio. In some 19 years at Accenture I’ve implemented several large systems, working with a number of government agencies. I have served as Veteran Affairs client account lead, Army client account lead, client executive for GFEBs (the Army’s financial systems implementation) and DIMHRS, and have held many other program and project management roles. My public service sector experience at Accenture plays nicely with my second career in the military.
One of my favorite things about Accenture is its corporate citizenship focus. We are working to apply our Skills to Succeed program to helping veterans, getting to one of the key issues Veterans Affairs faces—the high number of unemployed veterans. I’m also proud of Accenture’s programs that support advancing and retaining women. I particularly like mentoring and coaching programs. They provide an opportunity to have those candid coaching and skill-development conversations you won’t get in any other way.
A typical day can vary pretty greatly for me, depending on where I am and which hat I am wearing. I might be working on portfolio operations such as financials or sales reviews—with maybe a charity event to attend that evening—or I might be coordinating the National Guard activities. Or I might be mentoring people—veterans via Skills to Succeed, or young people in Accenture’s junior ranks. Right now I’m mentoring about 30 African American and Hispanic analysts.
But when all is said and done, my perfect day would be curling up beside my husband and doing nothing. That’s my greatest, most cherished time.
It’s true: I maintain two careers. In addition to my Accenture role, I’m a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army, responsible for the Maryland Army National Guard. Just a little over a year ago I returned from a one year deployment in Afghanistan. I also work with several veterans’ and women’s groups, and I have previously served on the board of Easter Seals for the Greater Washington – Baltimore Region.
These accomplishments mean more to me when I look back at my adolescence. For a time, I was homeless. My home wasn’t a happy one, and I left at age 15, working odd jobs and sleeping on the porches of friends’ homes. I kept it together with school and I played Varsity basketball, but it was an enormously stressful time. Joining the Army turned my life around, and joining Accenture was the best decision I ever made.
My time wearing my military hat is significant, but Accenture supports me in pursuing my military role while still allowing me to grow and pursue invigorating challenges at the office. What I like is that I’m not alone. I can always reach out to different mentors and coaches. That, to me, says this organization really is worried about success. We’re committed to helping people succeed. The only thing I have to do is reach out and just do it.
Leadership is not necessarily what you read in a management book. Leadership is the ability to change. The back story of many successful leaders is heartbreak, sleepless nights and overcoming adversity.
That may seem difficult, but don’t underestimate yourself! Find a coach. Work with someone who’s going to help you work out the areas you need to improve. And most of all, don’t be afraid to take the risk. You really live only one life.
Hear Linda's perspective on the importance mentoring plays in advancing more women to leadership ranks.