Hello everyone, I hope you all have had a restful Thanksgiving holiday!
Much like any year, the past 12 months have had their moments of challenge, frustration, and reward. As I reflect on the last year, I’m happy to say that the rewarding moments have outweighed the challenges and frustration. Among the most significant rewards, I was informed last week that I’ve been promoted, so with the turn of the calendar to December, I join the ranks of Senior Managers in Accenture’s strategy practice. Naturally, I’m thrilled with the new role and responsibilities. More important for me though is that it’s now been ten years since I left the academy to pursue other (and hopefully bigger and better) things. In thinking back, the only thing I was confident about as I pulled away from my academic career in Holland, MI, was that I was headed to Ann Arbor to study business. What might happen after day one was a complete mystery. I’d like to think this promotion is indicative that I made a good decision (maybe not the right or best decision, but at least a good one).
The year has seen some other, very tangible rewards from some of my recent work. For much of the past summer, I was lucky enough to work with a non-profit organization based in Seattle through the Accenture Development Partnerships program. The focus of the program is to bring the best of the firm to serve the needs of the international development sector. The work was exciting as I helped define the business strategy for an organization wanting to start innovation hubs for medical technology start-ups in developing countries. As part of the broader strategy, I helped them define a donor strategy and connected them with a number of potential donors…and it looks like our efforts are resulting in donor agreements and other interesting collaborations to support the program.
The work that I did with the World Economic Forum (WEF) has also taken on a new life in the last year. My work with WEF was a one-year research project focused on understanding how companies can better engage consumers to initiate behavior change for sustainability (a growing area of focus for global corporations), and resulted in a research paper released at the Forum’s 2013 meeting in Davos. One of the ideas captured in that document was the need for a digital platform connecting companies and their consumers. That concept picked up steam and earlier this year, a sizable network of companies launched collectively.org.
In may seem odd, but seeing this sort of tangible outcome can be rare when doing strategy consulting. I remember in one of my first strategy projects, the four months of work we did to build a 3-year sustainability plan for a client, culminating with a presentation to the highest levels of the company, was erased as we learned, early in the week of our final meeting, that the CEO had resigned. That said, I’ve recently been reading in the sustainability press about some of the steps that same client is now taking to be more sustainable, and am pleased to say, that some of the highlighted actions are the very same steps we laid out with them six years ago.
As with any experiment (which is how I view my career), the questions raised from this past year are far more than the answers it provides. With the new role comes more responsibility and bigger expectations, and it will require me to develop a different set of skills than those I have relied upon since joining Accenture, and those skills are vastly different from those I honed in graduate school and my time in the academy. As such, I’m very happy with what the way this past year has unfolded, but I’m more excited thinking about what this blog post might say a year from now.
As always, thanks Michelle, for hosting this site, building this network, and offering the opportunity to both reflect on my year and share those reflections with this community.
Enjoy the Holiday season everybody! I look forward to seeing you at future events.
Start from the beginning – Read Kevin Eckerle’s “Week in the Life”