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New Hire Orientation
Orientation was focused on introducing new joiners to the Accenture way of doing business. based on your prior experience, you are hired as either an analyst, consultant, manager or senior manager. Beyond that, you are thrown into an ocean of 244,000 associates and you either sink or swim.
There are no regions, teams, divisions, hierarchy, etc. I have neither a boss nor direct reports. Everything is project-based. I have a staffing advisor who helps me get assigned to projects. I have a people advisor who manages all HR-related issues. I have a career counselor who advises me on my long term career goals. There are various communities of interest so we can share ideas and establish networks. But that’s about it.
Beyond that, you are on your own. You can work anywhere and do anything with anyone as long as you can demonstrate expertise. One of my peers is currently in the Phillipines designing an IT infrastructure for a multinational company establishing a presence in Asia.
What Does Stewardship Mean?
You’ll hear this term frequently working here. Accenture takes its culture seriously. It must…because Accenture has no factories. It’s people are the only product that it sells. Consider this. My previous employer, EMC, generated $19B in revenues in 2011. It earned that with 48,500 employees; Accenture revenues in the same period were $27B with five times as many employees.
In other words, Accenture created 3.5x as many (high-paying) jobs for every dollar it earned compared to EMC. I love that fact!
Stewardship, in abstract nautical terms, is getting everyone to row the boat in the same direction. Similarly, at Accenture, it’s about making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. You are free to do whatever interests you but you are rewarded by doing what’s best for the business. In other words, happy productive employees equal a better product to sell, quite literally.
My First Project
I spent my first month trying to meet anyone and everyone at Accenture associated with storage, virtualization or cloud computing. By my second month, I was able to team up with various experts and we sold three deals. The first was a storage rationalization assessment for a Wall Street firm in NYC. The second was a data center modernization assessment for a retailer in Vancouver. The third was a cloud computing strategy assessment for a healthcare provider in NoCal.
At orientation, they told us that Accenture gives its associates as much responsibility as they can handle. For my first gig, I was selected as the delivery lead for the healthcare project that we just sold. I was to manage a large team (about 80 people) to develop a strategy to transform an established IT organization from a project-based to a service delivery-based “cloud” model.
This project involved providing recommendations for a comprehensive modernization and consolidation of the physical infrastructure, establishing virtual resource pools, automating manual processes, creating standardized offerings, developing showback/chargeback models, preparing self-provisioning guidelines and breaking down organizational silos in order to “cloudify” this large IT organization. People. Process. Technology.
What is the business case for cloudifying HealthCare IT? President Obama’s Healthcare Reform. The healthcare industry is expecting dramatic growth starting 2014 when “Obamacare” kicks in. This particular provider anticipates a 50% growth in membership (but not a 50% growth in IT staff). In order to manage this huge influx of new business starting in just two years, they need to build a solid IT foundation today that is very secure yet easy to consume and available on demand. Are there other healthcare providers that need to be thinking about this? Yes. All of them. Business as usual will not work. The cloud is real.
So what’s next for me once this project completes? I have no idea. And I prefer it that way. I’ll probably choose something completely different, somewhere completely different. Some consultants like to work on long term projects and that’s great but if you have an extremely short attention span like I…SQUIRREL!
Are There Any Downsides?
Yes. A big one. To work on interesting large scale projects like this, you have to travel to where the clients are. You will quickly become platinum elite on your favorite airline, hotel, car rental, etc. You will earn enough points to take free vacations every year. The flight attendants and hotel staff will know you by name and upgrade you. All that is great. But when you have a family at home that misses you (my guitars gently weep), it is really hard to maintain that mythical work/life balance. And when your child is sick and you are in a hotel room in another city, you feel pretty helpless. But maybe that’s the admission price for being a playa in the new global economy? Jury is still out…
I took this job thinking that I’ll either become a consulting lifer or I’ll burn out within a year or two. I’m not sure which category I’m falling into yet but I will say that time spent away from family weighs on me heavily. I’ve spoken to some peers who have learned to “live virtually” by taking year long assignments in interesting places and taking family with them. Others have taken multiyear projects close to home. Some take projects that don’t require much onsite travel. It can be done. It requires some rethinking of basic assumptions and some planning.
Thank you as always for reading my blog. Happy holidays and happy new year everyone!!