by Asif Khan
I often tell my friends that working at Accenture is like going to Management Boot Camp. You learn so much and are constantly challenged to do more than you thought you could do. But the cadence is intense and not sustainable for everyone…especially if you have a family that you like to spend time with.
During my tenure, I developed tremendous confidence managing multimillion dollar projects, cultivating executive relationships, balancing staffing and resource budgets and helping develop our data center transformation practice.
But I started to feel that this extremely time-consuming career choice is not the direction I wanted my career to go. At the heart of it, I’m a technology geek and I wanted to eventually get back to my roots. Then, three things happened in fairly quick succession that convinced me to make that move now, rather than wait any longer: something I read, something my wife said and something my son did.
Sometimes fate makes the decision for you.
1) Something I Read
If I stayed at Accenture, within a few short years I would have either made Managing Director or I would have gone to work for one of my clients in an IT leadership role. But about a year ago, I read a great book called How Will You Measure Your Life by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen (author of the classic book, The Innovator’s Dilemma). Soon after, I read a brilliant essay by Greg McKweon called The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. They completely changed my thinking and reaffirmed my doubts about the career path I was on. Highly recommended reading (see links below). Strike One.
2) Something My Wife Said
I had been managing an especially intensive project recently in New York and was only home for a total of four days that month. At a recent dinner party, a friend asked how we managed our lives with such a hectic work schedule. I casually made the comment, “if your personal life is on auto-pilot, you can make it work.” My wife politely reminded me afterward that our life is definitely NOT on auto-pilot. She has been doing an amazing job of managing things so that I can focus on my job but that it was getting exhausting. That’s not fair to her. Strike Two.
3) Something My Son Did
I came home from one of my trips recently to find the blinds propped up and some toys strewn about by the front door. I asked my wife what happened. She said that our six year old stands by the window for hours each day asking “Is it Friday yet? Maybe Daddy will come home early!” Strike Three. Game over.
I resigned two weeks later.
I am going back to my technology roots, starting a new job at Microsoft’s Incubation Labs. It is the perfect blend of working for both a market leader and a startup. We will be developing sales strategies for emerging cloud computing technologies. My initial focus will be on Azure cloud-based storage solutions. Microsoft’s proposed offerings in this area are impressive!
I will always value the friendships I made at Accenture. And I’m sure that Microsoft wouldn’t have hired me if not for all the great things I learned as a consultant there.
For my regular readers, thank you for building an interactive community here. I enjoyed speaking (and even meeting) with some of you as you pursue a career at Accenture. Keep it up. Accenture is a FANTASTIC place to work! And don’t worry…I still have several “Working at Accenture” posts that I have yet to finish.
And maybe we’ll pick up some new readers along the way as I start a “Working at Microsoft” series. We shall see.
Finally, for my friends that are learning about my major career/life decision for the first time here, I owe you all an apology. As my family will attest, our life has been unbelievably hectic lately.
Let’s catch up soon.