My First Day at Accenture – The Start of the 104-Hour Workweek
The modern glass building office, the clean white walls, and the hi-tech set-up sent an excited chill down my spine. My first day at Accenture felt like my corporate dream come true.
I walked into conference room BD1 for my orientation.
A fit middle-aged manager in a suit warmly greeted us and proclaimed:
“Welcome to Accenture! You’ll have made a wonderful decision for your careers and we hope you have a long and rewarding stint with us. Let me tell you about the core values that we live by.”
“And here are your laptops.” He handed out a shiny black laptop to each of us.
“If you log in with your enterprise IDs and default passwords, you’ll notice that you have your email and basic utilities are already set up.”
I logged in to mine and saw that I had emails dating back to three weeks; on the very day I had accepted the offer from Accenture.
I was already assigned to a project and an email listed out who I needed to report to, what tasks I had to work on, and what my deadlines were.
And there were three meeting invites – a daily morning huddle, a daily evening all hands meet, and a weekly connect with the entire team.
I finished my meetings and most of my tasks and my mandatory trainings by around 6.00pm that day and got up to leave.
I pinged my lead on Skype (Lync) to give a status update:
It’s already 6.00pm
I was taken aback. I sighed deeply and looked around the office. It was teeming with people furiously typing away at their laptops.
I sat back into my seat and worked for another 4 hours and pinged my lead at 10.00pm with a status update.
And that was how each day of my life was for the past 4 years at Accenture.
I Did Well at Accenture
I started off as a measly Analyst Level 1 and worked every breathing second off to become a Consultant in 3 years and stayed a year more to know what success at Accenture tasted like – it wasn’t worth it.
Let me tell you this – every day was torture. And you’re asking me why I continued there for 4 long years with all that torture?
The Psychology of the Accenture Employement
Well, after a while, you become a masochist. You are brainwashed to believe that the whole organization and the way things work and the abnormal deadlines is NOT the problem – YOU are.
There is something wrong with YOUR productivity and YOUR time management abilities and YOUR skills. If you want work life balance, YOU have to figure out a way.
At first, I kept pushing myself to work more and more and more. And it always worked in my favour – I got reward points, the best ratings and what not. I became a star performer and enjoyed praise from everyone at work.
But at what cost?
I gained 30 pounds from sitting on my desk all day, I had huge dark circles from the lack of sleep, and hormonal imbalance and other health conditions from the stress.
I kept telling myself that if I don’t work hard, I will lose my position in the team and I’ll get a low rating. If I don’t get promoted here soon, I will be thrown out – I can’t risk becoming a level 6 Analyst – that’s when you’re thrown out if you’re not able to get to Consultant.
I felt constant fear and trepidation when I walked into that office every morning.
And the work never ever seemed to end. Even on the projects that were relatively lighter and I had it a little easy, my career counsellor would sign me up for some extra initiatives to make sure that I got that coveted “Significantly Above Peer Group” performance rating.
I was promoted to Consultant, but success tasted awful – perhaps a lot worse than being an Analyst. All the extra money I made went to fund my medical bills.
Beginning of the End
And one day, it happened.
I had a nervous breakdown.
I had worked on one PowerPoint presentation for 4 days straight and I was then told at 3.00 am that everything needed to be changed and submitted by 8.00 am the next morning.
That was the last straw. I threw the laptop away and yelled and yelled and cried my heart out. I sat in a corner of my room and thought about what I had done to myself.
That was the day I decided to quit.
I didn’t send an email with the completed PowerPoint presentation to my lead but a two sentence long resignation letter instead.
I didn’t care that I was due for a nice big appraisal, I didn’t care that if I had waited another year I could be eligible for gratuity. It didn’t f***** matter.
Think about What We Do
How long can you get people to believe that the harder and longer you work, the better you are as an employee?
How long can people continue to make sacrifices in their health, family, and sanity for a few bucks? I had just gotten immune to living a shitty life of slavery at Accenture and getting rewarded for being a person with no life, health, and sanity.
That day, I was pushed too far to believe that it was my mistake or that I was not good enough for this organization – it was them.
They had been the problem from day one.
I had to live through the painful 3 month long notice period and it took a few weeks for me to actually start believing that it’s OK to not work 20 hours a day. That it’s OK to take a break sometimes and that it’s OK to watch a movie, take a walk or call a friend and I don’t need to feel guilty for doing it.
I have never regretted my decision – my health has dramatically improved – and I’ve never felt more content with my life.
If you’re reading this and you’re in two minds about whether or not to join this organization, let me tell you this: as someone who has been through the grind long enough to know the reality: don’t be fooled by that big pay check and that fancy office and that big brand name.
Your free time becomes overtime.
The office loses its rosiness.
The money loses its worth.
And the brand name loses its value.
I urge you to avoid joining Accenture if you value your sanity, health, and happiness.
P.s. The title of this article is inspired by “The 4-Hour Workweek” a self-help book about escaping the rat race, automating your work, living more and working less.
P.s.s. The office buildings shown in the pictures are not Accenture’s office buildings. Illustrative only.