5 Tips to New Accenture Employees
1. Become the Favorite of a Managing DirectorAccenture is very a political organization and your success very much depends on who you befriend.
Being the favorite of a Managing Director (i.e. Partner or Senior Executive) will help you get staffed on better projects and get promoted. It can also help make your work life more bearable in other ways.
My advice is to try to find a Managing Director (MD) you like and who specializes in the type of projects you are most interested in. Make sure he really likes you on a personal level. Become his favorite, and work long hours solely for him. Try to make him your career counselor as well. It’s important to choose an MD that you yourself like. If you can’t stand any of the MDs in your department, you may have a problem.
A Senior Manager or even a Manager can also work as your "sponsor", but they will have less power to fight for you when upper management gathers to decide on promotions.
If you like analysis and have some time on the bench you could even map out who is a favorite of whom. If a specific Managing Director has many people (or "resources") on his team that are up for promotion the same month as you are, you might want to choose someone else, as he can only help to get a few people promoted.
I recommend you learn how the political game and favoritism works within Accenture.
2. Don’t Ask for PermissionsDon’t ask for permission within Accenture – there is always someone who will say no. For example, if you want to specialize in SAP for airlines, start building your expertise and personal brand in this area; don’t ask if it is ok. If they allocate you to Oracle installations it will be difficult, but you have to set your own career goals.
Let everyone know what your strong points are. One way to accomplish this is to do a presentation on your area of interest (e.g. SAP for airlines) as an office training or as a firm-wide web broadcast.
3. Use your Data Gathering to Build Client RelationsAs an analyst or consultant, one of your main tasks will be to gather information for the project you are working on. Much of this activity will consist of searching the internet for statistics and collecting client documentation. However, you will also need to conduct qualitative interviews with directors within the client organization. This is a great opportunity to build client relations.
There is much competition among Accenture employees to spend time with the important directors at client organizations. If you are the one with the best relationship to a Vice President or Director at a large company, in the long run you will be seen as more valuable to Accenture. After building credibility, you will be viewed as the best person to make a sale to that client.
Relationships with these key people are also valuable because you might get job offers from them. Furthermore, you will benefit from those contacts if you decide to become a freelance consultant.
Start building relationships early, but don’t expect to interview a CIO or similar of a Fortune 500 company. No Managing Director would let an analyst conduct an interview with such an important client officer – they will keep that valuable meeting to themselves. Directors, Vice Presidents, and Managers might be possible candidates, however. Follow up the relation and show you want to stay in touch. A good way to accomplish this is by offering to take them to lunch within a few weeks.
4. Never Say No – Or at Least Be Smart About ItA "can-do attitude" is very much valued within Accenture. If you are asked to join a project and turn it down, you might create a problem for yourself and be deemed a "difficult" employee. It does not matter if your experience is in CRM and the project you are asked to join is tedious bug testing. Accenture wants to make money off of you and doesn’t want you on the bench. Earning revenues is more important than matching your skills and interests with specific projects.
I hesitate to advise you to never say no. Here’s the dilemma: If you say yes to everything, people above you in the Accenture hierarchy will see you as a "yes man" and walk all over you. On the other hand, if you say no you may become unpopular with staffers, the HR reps, your career counselor and/or Managing Directors.
But what if you get an email asking (or telling) you to assume a 12 month bug testing role in a suburb of Boringville?
Most analysts don’t even realize the possibility to say no exists, but you can get out of it – if you are smart. My advice: ignore that email as long as you can and do everything in your power to get another project in the meantime (be aware, ignoring is a tactic that can sometimes backfire). If you’re lucky, you will have a few days before your HR rep follows up on the email. Then you reply "I’m sorry Pierre, I was just booked on a CRM project elsewhere".
In other words, avoid a clear, direct "no" until you have a valid excuse. Don’t make it appear as if you are trying to get out of the boring bug testing project. Instead, emphasize your passion and enthusiasm to get on a CRM project, assuming that is your interest.
Getting good projects is one of the most difficult things in Accenture. The best strategy to avoid those bug-testing-project emails is to be a favorite (see tip #1) and proactively search for projects, long before you roll off your current one.
5. "Fail Fast" and Be Ready to LeaveMy last advice is to not burn any bridges you may have built up during the job search that landed you your Accenture position. Keep your CV out there on the job boards.
If you have other recruiting processes going, do everything you can to finish them and get a second job offer, even if you have started working at Accenture. If this is not possible, tell those companies you will give Accenture a try but that you are still interested in their company (if things don’t work out with Accenture).
If your first project at Accenture was bad and you get staffed on a second bad project, that should be a clear signal. Dare to break out instead of wasting years of your life as a drone.
Read also: My first Day at Accenture
If you realize you made the wrong decision by joining Accenture, then "fail fast". Admit your failure, learn from it, and move on quickly. Keeping options open can save your career. Even if you chose to stay, having other job options can help in your salary negotiations.
I’m certainly not recommending an Accenture career if you have other options, but I also realize that most of us have rent to pay and in a downturn economy we might not have the luxury to wait for another job offer.
Hopefully these tips help new employees navigate the Accenture machinery. I will return with more tips (get them through an RSS or email subscription). In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in a comment below.