Here we are, in the new year, with a new series of interviews "Why Consulting?" (please check out our last series "Food for Thought").
Before asking the question "Why Consulting?" to our interviewees, gadz'arts working in a consulting sector in the United States, we asked it ourselves. Why Consulting and not another series of interviews?
The answer is simple. A lot of Arts et Metiers graduate engineering students who contacted AFAM looking for internships in the US, are interested in Consulting. And when we ask them "Why?", a lot of them are lost, not knowing what to say, probably thinking that saying "I will earn a lot of money" is not a good answer, or at least not the only one.
What is the right answer (if there is one)? We will be trying to understand it with the help of our alumni, professionals, experts, Consulting enthusiasts.
François Thery (Li 96), Technology Consulting Senior Manager at Accenture, SF Bay Area, CA, is one of them.
AFAM: Hello, François, and thank you for replying to our questions. Please tell us more about what your consulting role is about?
François: My role is complex transformation delivery expert, leading implementation of large scale solution such as ERP (Enterprise resource planning - business process management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources) and Saas (software is a service - is a software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the Internet).
My primary industry focus area is high tech companies, with experience in Configure Price Quote and Supply Chain Transformation initiatives.
AFAM: How did you get where you are now?
François: I started my professional career in Glass Manufacturing and Operations Management, first on the East coast for 12 years and afterwards on the West Coast. I was involved into managing large projects either in process improvement (lean manufacturing, six sigma) or customer specific programs, which helped me transition easily to Accenture and complex transformation delivery.
I joined Accenture five years ago as I was looking for a career change and was fortunate to join this great company.
AFAM: What does your typical day look like?
François: What I like as a Technology consultant is that there is no typical day. The principal activity is to work with our client on addressing their needs, coupled with managing a delivery team. There are plenty of opportunities at Accenture to contribute in various projects, such as coaching new joiner, performing volunteer work in local communities, or leading technology working groups. This diversity fits well with my aspiration both personally and professionally.
AFAM: What kind of volunteer work are you talking about?
François: It can be helping out at a local shelter, work with the San Francisco City to improve their dispatching system, or suggest solutions to accelerate the response time of the wildfire!
AFAM: What do you like in your consulting role?
François: As mentioned previously, I like the opportunity to work with various teams and companies.
One area that I really like is being able to bring value and a sense of purpose to our client. We strive to make an impact to the daily life of our client by developing meaningful and cutting-edge solutions. Witnessing the results and impact of our work, and the difference that we make is really a rewarding experience as a human being.
AFAM: What are the challenges of the consulting job?
François: One of the areas that keep consultants on their toes is the need to remain relevant in the work we do. The technology solutions are evolving at a pace we never saw before. It requires us to stay vigilant, always learn and challenge our beliefs and understandings.
AFAM: What skills and qualities do engineers need to be successful consultants?
François: Engineers usually bring with them rigor and methods to the consulting world. While these are great skills, it is not enough to be successful. The biggest skill gap I personally see is being able to communicate simply and efficiently with a client or a team. This is something that must be learnt, practiced and mastered.
Being able to make a point or explain a problem and solution will be the differentiator between getting a deal or not, having a team following you or not.
AFAM: What advice would you give to a student who wants to work in consulting? Start as a junior in a large management consulting company, find an internship in a boutique firm, become an expert in a certain field before breaking into consulting........?
François: I would recommend anyone to join a Consulting firm early in a career. Joining after spending several years in a non-consulting environment is not easy and requires a high level of adaption.
I would also recommend to be patient, curious and learn as much as possible. What makes a successful consultant is the exposure to various experiences.
As far as which type of consulting firm to join, it is a personal choice. Accenture has a great development program for consultants out of school. It is designed to learn the consulting role, get experience in projects and adapt to the company culture and core values. The specialization will come later on based on affinity and interest.
Some information about internship opportunities at Accenture in the US:
Applicants for employment in the US must have work authorization that does not now or in the future require sponsorship of a visa for employment authorization in the United States and with Accenture.
How to Apply: Please apply via your campus career center and the Accenture Careers website.