First 100 days as an Accenture Partner - and my predictions for 2022
A few months ago, I shared my journey on how I got to my latest Executive role. Now I’d like to reflect on the first 100+ days as an Accenture Partner.
It has been quite thought-provoking, mainly because of how different this experience has been from my time at other organisations. While there are myriad reasons for this, I’d like to attribute it largely to coming into the role with an intentional three-pillared plan (more on this below). However, my ability to enact that plan with any measure of success has been facilitated by having a natural fit with my team and clients, and by entering what for me has been a culturally-welcoming space.
Finding my village
You can tell a lot about an organisation through its hiring process, and a key differentiator with Accenture was that my initial touchpoints were with a Black, female executive holding a role more senior to me. That made a really good impression since in most organisations to date I have been the most senior Black woman on staff. Accenture’s ability to do this has been borne out of the clear targets and ambitions it set around Inclusion & Diversity (I&D). These metrics are openly stated and published, which allows for transparency and accountability. Undeniably there remains room for improvement in the I&D space but her presence set a good tone for me, which has only grown.
One concern I did have about joining Accenture was the size of the organisation, but I’ve found my village and have quickly started to feel at home. I’ve become enmeshed in what is a collaborative environment with team members who have been here for a long time because they’ve enjoyed it — and that’s certainly the mark of a great place to work! My village comprises energetic, ambitious, fun and knowledgeable individuals who are working to make an impact in the industry.
A different sort of plan
Without the enabling environment I entered into, my experience over this period would have looked very different; but there is much to be said about the plan I developed coming into this role. In fact, that plan began to form well before my actual start date. Ahead of the interview process it started in my efforts to conceptualise and articulate to myself what I wanted to achieve for me, for a team, for an organisation, for the industry, and even beyond that. It evolved further during the interview and acceptance process, prompted by conversations around my Partner integration plan. Of necessity I had to strategically and thoughtfully consider who I would need to: meet with, build trust and rapport with, be supported by and provide support to.
After that initial period — which we’ll call the pre-joining phase — the plan crystallised around three main areas of focus: team, clients, and self.
The internals – team
I would say that my first 45–60 days were focused on integration. I spent much of that time connecting with as many key internal stakeholders as possible, identifying opportunities for support to be offered or received.
During that period I also got insights via the mandatory training provided as I find it quite telling what a company considers important enough to make a requirement, particularly at Exec level. At Accenture that included the obvious things like compliance, anti-bribery and ethics, but it also included mandatory training around Inclusion & Diversity. This further solidified my positive impression of their efforts in that space. I also found it promising that the exec-level training included a ‘technology quotient’ which provides multiple modules on technological innovations to ensure all execs have a sound understanding of recent trends, such as bitcoin, cloud computing or 5G.
I’ve also focused on some of the softer KPIs like whether my team is enjoying working with me, is the team diverse enough, how can I mentor others in the organisation to pay it forward. Adding this as a main aspect of my plan has not only been rewarding, but it has also had a significant impact on my performance and motivation in the role thus far.
A continual source of energy
The client aspect of my career has always been a main area of focus and source of energy for me — it’s what has gotten me here. I love thinking about how to address the challenges that the Telecoms & Media sector faces. I enjoy meeting as many people as possible who have built their careers in and are passionate about the industry, and I’ve built and maintained a strong rapport with many very senior stakeholders globally. I also believe these to be meaningful relationships where I can connect on a personal level and am engaged with who they are, where their ambitions lie and how we can collaborate towards real industry and societal change and impact. Client interaction is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Self – core, not secondary
Truth be told, my focus on ‘self’ in this plan represents the biggest shift from how I have approached previous roles. I’ve sought first and foremost to remain true to my authentic self. I’ve avoided second-guessing myself and have gone with my gut. I believe this has played a huge part in why my pace has been faster than I expected.
There are two main factors which prompted me to make this significant shift and redraw or eradicate the demarcation between ‘self’ and ‘work’ from Day One. First, the impact of Covid-19 and working from home has meant that there is less of a physical or environmental boundary between work and life; making ‘self’ core to any professional plan is key to being successful in this new reality. Second, the BLM movement put the spotlight on the need to bring forward your authentic self in all spaces, whether private or public, and I believe this to be an important part of my responsibility as a leader.
My efforts in this ‘self’ space have included checking in with myself by writing a small blog on Instagram which has helped me maintain focus on my personal needs and goals, including enacting a plan with my husband to go on a holiday every quarter and being unapologetic about living my best (and hard-earned) life.
Looking onwards — to 2022
There is a post 100-day slump risk that isn’t often written about. Someone comes into a role with gusto and a well thought-out 100-day plan, goes full steam ahead but then crashes, either due to expectations not being met, going too hard too soon or something unexpected happening that throws them off their stride.
Truth be told, in any dynamic environment there will be change – if not in the first 100 days, certainly within the first year. My plan is to remain focused on:
- Team — I remain a committed Exec sponsor for recruitment into the UK Communications & Media Strategy & Consulting village, measuring success by landing and integrating a diverse, happy and quality team.
- Clients — Less is more. I plan to focus on a select list of client executives where I believe I can help to make a material and lasting impact on them personally, their businesses and the industry.
- Self — I will continue to check in on whether I’m remaining authentic or slipping into old patterns of behaviour, and ensure that I’m following through with my self-care goals in the areas of family, health and travel!
Although this brings me to a close of the ‘moving at a planful pace’ phase, 2022 for me is all about ‘moving with precision and impact’ — more on this soon.
What are your watch words for 2022?