Office Hours: Insights On Consulting Careers With Accenture Recruiters

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On August 13th, four members of the Accenture team joined TalentEgg to host Office Hours, taking questions from students and recent graduates about consulting careers with the company.

Office Hours is a real-time conversation hosted online, which gives TalentEgg members the opportunity to communicate directly with representatives from top employers.

Four Accenture representatives took part and answered your questions about opportunities in consulting at Accenture!

Missed the event? Check out this transcript below:

TalentEgg Hayley: Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Hayley and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Our eggs-pert guests today are four employees from Accenture, two of whom work in campus recruiting! Please welcome:

Victoria Barreda, Campus Recruiting Lead, Technology Growth Platform

Melissa Larson, Campus Recruiting Lead, Management Consulting

Hugh Underwood, Business Analyst, Management Consulting Development Program

Nafisa Kanji, first-year Analyst

Over the next hour, you can send Victoria, Melissa, Hugh and Nafisa your questions about careers with Accenture, learn how to stand out to recruiters and get tips for successfully hatching a consulting career. You can start submitting your questions now.

Victoria, Melissa, Hugh and Nafisa, could you please tell us a bit about yourselves?

Hugh Underwood – Accenture: Good afternoon! It’s a pleasure to be speaking to you today. My name is Hugh Underwood and I am a Business Analyst in our management consulting practice based out of Toronto. I’ve been with Accenture full time since September 2011 and prior to that I was a summer intern in 2010. As a Business Analyst, I’ve had the opportunity to work across various functional areas and industries over the past couple of years. Some of my projects include a transportation strategy project for a major Canadian retailer, a digital strategy project for the credit card division of a Canadian bank and the transformation of the claims process of a major US-based insurance company. My current project has me working the majority of my time outside of Chicago, Illinois. Outside of my client work, I’m involved in several extracurricular activities at Accenture, including on-campus recruiting and our intern program. I’m looking forward to helping you with some of your questions!

Nafisa Kanji – Accenture: Hi! I’m Nafisa and I’m a first-year Analyst based out of our Calgary office. I’m currently staffed on a local project as part as the project management team. Welcome and I look forward to answering your questions.

Victoria Barreda – Accenture: Hello! My name is Victoria Barreda, most commonly referred to as “Vicky.” I lead Accenture’s campus recruitment program for our technology growth platform. I am responsible for the recruitment of recent graduates into our Technology Consulting workforce across Canada. As such, I travel across the country in search of the best talent to meet our demand. I am excited to spend the next hour chatting with you.

Melissa Larson – Accenture: Hi everyone and thanks for joining us today! We are excited to be partnering with TalentEgg for this month’s Office Hours. My name is Melissa Larson and I am one of the Campus Recruiting Leads at Accenture. My primary focus is on Management Consulting hiring for Canada and therefore I look for the best and brightest at the undergrad level, as well as for MBAs who are looking to start their careers with Accenture.

TalentEgg Hayley: Thanks guys! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted in advance.

Basir Naqvi, a Management Information Systems student at McGill University, asks: “Do you only recruit fresh graduates in September or do you recruit throughout the year?”

Victoria Barreda – Accenture: Great question Basir! We are excited to be returning to campus in just a few weeks to start our fall campus recruiting season. This is the main time of year when we are on campus meeting with students to discuss our full-time opportunities with upcoming graduates. Successful applicants join our team after they graduate. We work with students to help set their start dates.

Comment From Michelle
What experience is Accenture looking for? Does previous intern experience in an IT consulting firm help?

Melissa Larson – Accenture: Hi Michelle! We look for well-rounded individuals who have good grades, are active in student or community organizations, have strong leadership skills and other skills from past projects, internships or part-time work experience that can transition nicely into a consulting career. This includes time management, relationship building, problem solving, etc. To further help yourself stand out, take advantage of career fairs and networking opportunities. Meet with company representatives and ask them questions. Show your interest. Share your background and passion.

Comment From Nikhil Srinidhi

Hello everyone! My name is Nikhil. I’m a student at McGill and have always been interested in consulting (technology & management). I am excited to hear your insights about the industry! The first question I have is: What are some technical skills that are useful in a consulting career at Accenture?

Nafisa Kanji – Accenture: In terms of technical skills, it varies depending on what area you wish to focus in. There are a wide variety of areas from SAP to JAVA and many other areas that you can choose to specialize in.

Victoria Barreda – Accenture: Great answer Nafisa. We also have a number of training programs in place for our employees including world-class training, mentoring and networking, career counselling, leadership development and a variety of work-life programs to help you achieve professional success and personal satisfaction. We use a number of collaboration technologies to provide our employees with the flexibility they need to work from different locations and stay connected with their teams and clients.

TalentEgg Hayley: Thanks Hugh! Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance:

Alifya Rajkotawla, a Business student at Wilfrid Laurier University, asks: “How would you describe Accenture’s company culture?”

Nafisa Kanji – Accenture: The Accenture culture is very collaborative with a wide variety of diverse and highly talented people. It is fun and supportive with everyone striving to deliver the best solutions to our clients.

Hugh Underwood – Accenture: My experience is very similar to Nafisa’s. The vast majority of the people you will meet are extremely friendly and supportive. Everyone is intelligent and works hard. However, people at Accenture also enjoy socializing and having fun outside of work as well. For example, I am on a travel project and my project team frequently goes out for dinners and other types of socials, including baseball games, comedy shows, etc. Outside of projects, there are community events and socials for the entire MC (Management Consulting) practice, for MCDP (Management Consulting Development Practice) alone, and for other groups/communities. There’s always something going on. Accenture is full of interesting, intelligent and engaged people that also know how to have fun. It’s a big part of why I enjoy working here.

Comment From Dana Burgess
Hi everyone! My name is Dana and I am a second year MBA student who will be graduating this December. I am hoping to pursue management consulting and project management. What do you look for in the hiring process on resumes, cover letters and in interviews?

Melissa Larson – Accenture: Hi Dana, thanks for attending! For MBA candidates we ask that applicants submit a resume, cover letter and transcripts as you mentioned. Be sure to include your previous experiences in project-based roles as well as any extracurricular activities you are part of. Additionally, if you have been a part of any case competitions you should be sure to include that. For your cover letter, tell us your story and background and make sure it makes an impact.

Comment From Guest
Hugh mentioned that he started out at Accenture as an intern. Is that common?

Hugh Underwood – Accenture: It’s definitely not a requirement to be an intern. Many of our full-time hires were not interns with Accenture previously. However, for me, the internship was a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure to the work and great people at Accenture. It affirmed to me that Accenture was the place that I wanted to work full time.

Comment From Neda Riazi
Good afternoon Accenture team! I am a student at the Schulich School of Business with a recent passion for management consulting. Does recruitment for summer interns begin in September as well or is this at a different time?

Victoria Barreda – Accenture: Hi Neda! Intern hiring begins in January. The internship term is typically 10-12 weeks in length. Interns start in late May/ beginning of June and end their term in August. Postings will be live on our Accenture careers website in January.

Comment From Claire Bourzeix
Hello everybody! My name is Claire and I am an MIS student at McGill. Thank you for hosting this! I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about the structure at Accenture. For example, do you usually work with the same team on several projects? How are these teams built?

Hugh Underwood – Accenture: Hi Claire, great question! You will be staffed to certain projects based on what you’re interested in, what’s available when you are available and several other factors. As an Analyst you will generally work on a variety of projects with different teams. As you develop relationships it may be more likely that you will work with particular managers or senior managers, but at the beginning of your career, your teams will likely look quite different from project to project.

Comment From Shuang Niu (Andrea)
Good afternoon everyone, my name is Andrea. I am graduating from the University of Toronto with two specialist degrees in Finance and Management. I am very interested in a career in consulting and really appreciate this opportunity to connect with Accenture! My first question is: Since there are many departments in the company, are there any rotation programs provided for new employees to gain experience in every field and choose the team that would allow them to best utilize their skill sets?

Nafisa Kanji – Accenture: As an Analyst you typically work across a variety of industries and areas and then specialize as you progress in your career path. In my current project there are a variety of different areas from process and solution design to build and test for the technology components, change management and deployment. My current role gives me exposure and insight into many of these areas and the opportunity to delve deeper into different areas.

Melissa Larson – Accenture: Additionally, as an entry-level joiner within management consulting, you will be part of our Management Consulting Development Program (MCDP), an intensive 2 – 3 year program working across a variety of project roles to develop core management consulting skills. You may work across industries and functions, with responsibilities such as designing new business processes, conducting research, supporting functional user requirements, performing analysis and assisting in change management activities.

TalentEgg Hayley: Here’s another question that was submitted in advance:

Taylor Schenk, a Commerce student at Queen’s University, asks: “What is the number one way to stand out from other Accenture hopefuls at recruiting and networking events? And what are some things to avoid doing in these situations?”

Melissa Larson – Accenture: Hi Taylor! I recently contributed a post to our Canada Careers Blog about this. Networking is important and it is an area where we all can practice and continue to grow our skills and comfort level. My main advice is to focus on quality, sell yourself but also be sure to listen and to start early. Here is a link to the blog.

Comment From Arshdeep Sidhu
Hi everyone, nice to e-meet you all! I will be going into the HBA program at the Richard Ivey School of Business in September. Aside from that I’m involved with Nspire Innovation Network and manage the student operations for a non-profit. I’m interested to learn if there are any skill development and mentorship programs at Accenture, and if so, how they work.

Victoria Barreda – Accenture: Accenture’s Technology Consulting Analysts go through 4 weeks of training in our training facility located in St. Charles (just outside of Chicago). Our recruits learn about Accenture’s methodology, the way we deliver projects and specific technical skills. In addition, Accenture invests $850 million in training each year, and provides an average of 52 hours of annual training per employee.

Hugh Underwood – Accenture: Hi Arshdeep. All Management Consulting Analysts spend two weeks within their first two years at our training facility in St. Charles. It is a fantastic opportunity not only to learn key skills that you use day-to-day as an Analyst but also to meet some of your Analyst colleagues from all over the world. It was definitely one of the highlights of my career at Accenture so far and I still keep in touch with many of the people that I met during the training session.

Nafisa Kanji – Accenture: When I first joined Accenture one of the first things that we did was go to St. Charles for a month and learn new technology skills as well as get a good understanding of project life cycles. There are also a lot of training courses and Accenture certifications that you can pursue to develop your skills. Accenture has a formal mentorship program but I’ve found that everyone is always willing to provide guidance and help whenever required.

Comment From Joshua Lo
For those who go to schools which are not hosting Accenture information sessions, what is the best way to network with Accenture representatives?

Victoria Barreda – Accenture: Hi Joshua! Our positions are posted to our website so that all students can apply. For students we do not meet on campus, connecting with us on our social media sites is a great way to learn about available opportunities. We are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to view our career event calendar, here is the link. We are always adding to it so I invite you to visit our page on an ongoing basis.

TalentEgg Hayley: Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance:

Wendy Yang, a Business Administration student at the Richard Ivey School of Business, asks: “What is the best way to prepare for a management consulting interview? I understand doing cases and getting familiar with analysis approaches are important, but are there key ways that you’ve found have helped past interviewees land a position?”

Hugh Underwood – Accenture: For management consulting interviews specifically, the case interview is definitely a unique interview and the best way to become comfortable with it is by practicing. Switch up the people who you practice with to ensure that you get exposure to different interviewing styles and techniques. Beyond practicing, it is important to stay relaxed and natural. If you have received an interview, it generally means that we like what we have seen so far. Relax during the days leading up to the interview and sleep and eat well. We are looking for you to succeed and you are more than capable of succeeding! Also, it’s important that you enable the recruiters to see who you truly are. A big piece of what we look for is whether or not an individual will “fit” into our organization and culture. The easiest way for us to determine this is if you are acting naturally.

TalentEgg Hayley: Here’s another great question that was submitted in advance:

Chris Neels, an Accounting and Business Technology Management student at the University of British Columbia, asks: “What is the typical career path of a Technology Consulting Analyst at Accenture?”

Victoria Barreda – Accenture: Great question Chris! Our consulting career path recognizes our employees’ success with increased responsibility and opportunity. Promotions are based on performance and readiness to take on greater responsibility. Typically, you would spend 2-3 years as an analyst; 3-4 years as a consultant; 3-4 years as a manager; 3-5 years as a senior manager; and then advance to managing director. For a fun way to get a feel for our career path advancement, play our How Great Can You Be game. You can access this through your smartphone at http://accenturecareersmobile.com.

Comment From Neda Riazi
Hugh, would you please describe a day in the life of a Business Analyst? I think this would provide very valuable insight. Thanks!

Hugh Underwood – Accenture: Great question, Neda. I’ll tell you a little bit about what my typical week is like. On Monday mornings I travel to the client site outside of Chicago. I work closely with my client counterpart and other various members of our team to push forward with our design work. Once or twice a week, my project team will go out for dinner (or have some other type of social event). On Thursdays, I work at the client site for most of the day before heading to the airport to fly back to Toronto. On Fridays, I work from our downtown office. I try to use some time on Fridays to connect with some of my colleagues around the office (a coffee or lunch or just a quick hallway chat). During the travel week, I generally try to work a little bit longer days so that I can focus my weekends on relaxing and catching up with friends and family. Hope this gives you a bit of insight!

Nafisa Kanji – Accenture: From a Technology Analyst perspective in project management  a typical week involves reviewing resourcing and financials for the team. It also involves creating the overall work plan and ensuring that scheduled activities are completed accordingly to plan in order to avoid delays and impacts on other teams that may have dependencies. Other weekly activities include tracking risks and mitigation plans along with tracking the overall status of teams and identifying issues and ensuring they are resolved.

TalentEgg Hayley: That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours and a big thank-you to Victoria, Melissa, Hugh and Nafisa for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions!

If you’re looking for more information about consulting careers at Accenture, visit Accenture’s TalentEgg profile. And be sure to follow @accenture_ca as well as Victoria and Melissa on Twitter at @barreda_vick and @larson_mel for more insider info!

Thanks again for joining us today TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter feed @TalentEgg and Facebook Page for upcoming Office Hours events!

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