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5 Principles Help Me Be My Best Personally and Professionally

By Traci Dunn, Associate Director, Accenture, Houston

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Traci Dunn

I am especially passionate about leveraging my story and my journey to help other African-American woman avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered and achieve their greatest potential.

I began my career just like any other Type A overachiever. I was focused on my goal of being a global HR leader, and nothing was going to get in my way. I spent the early part of my career learning and growing through different roles, opportunities and companies to build my skills.

No challenge was too great, whether it was relocating or entrepreneurship (I started my own diversity consultancy business). I took risks in my quest to achieve my objective. It paid off professionally. I built an amazing career doing the work that I loved.

I thought I truly had it together, but, in 2012, I realized everything was actually falling apart.

At my previous employer, I was the executive sponsor for a new leadership development program, focused on helping people maximize their energy to sustain high performance. I engaged in the program as a participant and, through the health assessment, found out that I had developed high blood pressure.

I realized that I had been far less than authentic in my journey. The outcome of this experience literally saved my life and enabled me to be honest with myself.

“Determine what work/life integration means to you and prioritize it. Make memories every single day!”

Now, my ultimate mission is to be a “servant leader,” who enables people to fulfill their greatest potential. Servant leadership is a concept in which the person considers herself a servant first, and leadership follows from that.

I live with the following five principles, which keep me grounded, so I can be the best leader personally and professionally. As I started to truly focus on living my mission, I made some significant changes in each of these areas:


I changed my lifestyle and lost 30 pounds, which ultimately resulted in my being taken off medication to control my stress-induced high blood pressure.


I re-engaged with faith, family and friends.

I lost my father in 2008. In the years before he died, I was so focused on my new global role and traveling the world that I didn’t spend quality time with my dad, who was my everything, in his last days. I still feel the pain of that regret.

I recognized that I had to be more intentional about spending quality time with the people who mean the most to me.


I allowed myself to be authentic in just bringing me, all of me, to every situation. I stopped being who I thought I should be for everyone else and trying to be the perfect person I thought I should be.


I learned to be much more emotionally intelligent, and connect with the people I lead and my family and friends, in a mindful way.


I recognized that we are not guaranteed another second on this earth, and I stopped putting off connecting with the people I love in a meaningful way every day.

I made the decision to leave my role in Columbus, Ohio, and move back home to Texas after 18 years to be closer to my 87-year-old mother.

I refuse to have the same regret that I had when I lost my father. I so enjoy being able to spend quality time with my mom.

In September 2015, I was blessed to give birth to the most amazing little boy, who has transformed my world yet again. It was now easy for me to determine my approach to work/life integration as a single mother.

I make memories with my little guy every single day! To do this, I had to make some sacrifices and investments, but it is paying off for us. He already has passport stamps and has been to more states than the average American, traveling with mommy for work.

With the life part in a beautiful place, I can truly engage in my work to be a servant leader, enabling people to fulfill their greatest potential.

In my current role in HR at Accenture, I help people build on their strengths, stay focused on priorities and seek real-time feedback through ongoing conversations.

I’m so privileged to have such great alignment with my work and my passion. As I look back on the past few years, there are so many things I’m proud of that reinforced that alignment.

For example, I had the opportunity to help establish a leadership program for women of color, with Accenture as the founding sponsor. What started with a focus group I led with 10 women of color evolved into an Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) Leadership Academy, called “EMERGE,” that works to increase the representation of women of color at senior levels of IT. Although it was quite the task to create this Leadership Academy, it was a labor of love, because I was so personally passionate about the mission.

Inside and out of my company, I’ve been able to provide formal and informal mentorship to many. It literally is one of my greatest joys.