iSchool Employer Connections Fair sponsor: Accenture featuring Alumnus Michael B Nguyen

Name of Employer/Company: Accenture

Location of [US] Headquarters: Chicago

Local Location: Seattle, WA

Name of Employee for Interview:  Michael B. Nguyen (UW Informatics Alum)

Title/Position of Employee: Consultant (2nd level)

Position Description:

I am a Consultant, and my specialization is data quality. My position includes both back-end analysis and front-end business work with client

Can you describe a typical day for you at Accenture?

The course of my day depends a lot on what current projects I’m working on and what the current client list is. Some clients require more travel time than others. When traveling for a client assignment, I am typically up and on the go by 5 AM to catch a flight and meet with clients; at the end of the day, I might not arrive home until 6 or 7 PM. Whether traveling or not my day is typically spent working on my projects, attending meetings and checking with my client on my activites.

What three words would you use to describe the culture at Accenture?

helpful, engaged, friendly.

helpful – There is a real culture of stewardship at Accenture, from day-to-day work to our  formal mentorships and even the promotional system. Colleagues go out of their way to help each other do the best job possible and to grow from the experience.

engaged – Everyone cares.  I contrast this with other former classmates’ experiences; some of them can’t wait to punch out their time cards at 5 PM and just go home. At Accenture, everyone genuinely cares about the work, about doing a great job, delivering quality products, and doing their best.

friendly – There’s a nice atmosphere.  In my previous experience at other companies, sometimes employees were resistant to helping each other too much. My colleagues at Accenture, including those working at much higher management levels, are always quick to respond, to encourage, and even to ask if I need help. If I send out an email to a coworker, I typically get a response or offer to help within 24 hours. It doesn’t always happen that way in other places

What is the most memorable experience or accomplishment you have had as an employee at Accenture? (i.e.- a project you worked on, deadline met , group initiative, etc.)

Working on a recent data quality project was memorable for several reasons. Not only was it satisfying to hand off quality project deliverables which met our client’s needs, but it was also extremely rewarding to do the project work itself and to experience personal and professional growth as a direct result.

In this particular instance, the project manager was also my assigned career counselor. As part of the corporate promotional culture at Accenture, everyone has an assigned career counselor, who is essentially a career mentor as well as your own professional advocate. For this project, we worked closely together, and I was able to learn directly from him; it was almost like an apprenticeship. I learned so much on this last project! Many of the lessons I learned were things that could never be taught in a class, including invaluable insight into the project process as well as some of the softer skills that are also important to us as consultants.

What would you describe as the best part about working for Accenture?

Accenture is a great place to start working right out of school because there are great learning opportunities at every level. At Accenture, there are high standards at every level, and it is always clear that those in senior positions have a lot of experience and share it with you. You will learn something new on every project you work on, and you will never feel like you’re just stuck in a routine

Any advice for current students who are interested in entering your field?

Being able to interpret what clients need and want, and how to meet those, are a key to success in this business.

While a student at UW, was there a particular class or experience that led you to explore opportunities at Accenture or the overall field that Accenture is in?

 While at the iSchool, I elected to take a project management course through Foster School of Business. Anyone interested in becoming a consultant should understand the nuts and bolts of project management, and this course was a good introduction to that side of the business. It is often worth it to look outside of your program’s core requirements and even beyond your particular program to see what is being offered elsewhere.  I also took a class on data visualization; being able to create visuals and to effectively convey complex information in understandable ways has also been an incredibly useful skill.

A core class had you finding a client and analyzing their business processes, identify improvements, and implement the improvements. This class was exactly what a consulting project will be like and gave me a good feel for what I would encounter. I also remember picking up important basics such as what’s the Software Development Lifecycle and different standard methodologies. This lead into the capstone well which was a larger version of this (at least for my capstone)

What is your favorite memory of the UW iSchool?

Bob Boiko’s content management class and Capstone experience are two of my favorite memories of my time at the iSchool. Bob really knows his material, and he’s not afraid to ask tough questions of his students. Even when he knows you won’t necessarily have an answer, he asks you questions to get you to think things through, and that’s a great way to learn what you don’t know. It was a very good introduction into the kinds of questions you’ll face from managers and clients.

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