Interviews – Simon Boucher

Simon, 24, is a business analyst with management consultancy Accenture (formerly called Andersen Consulting), having done a business and political science degree at Trinity College in Dublin. He has been working there since November 1999

What does your job involve?
Since I’ve been with Accenture I’ve been doing business integration work for a major petro-chemical client, rolling out an e-procurement solution to client sites around the world. I’m based on site in a London client office for 11 months, so there’s a high degree of client interaction – which is my favourite part of the job.

What sort of training have you had?
Accenture puts you through a five-week introductory course as a new graduate recruit. I did three weeks in my home office, Dublin, and another two in St Charles, Chicago, in basic programming: C, C++ and a little Visual Basic. Then I did an additional two-week e-commerce course in Windsor, in Java and HTML. Since then I’ve done two further courses, a three-day “introduction to business” course and a three-day “introduction to business finance”. Now that I’m in my second year, I get to choose my next training course to focus on areas that really interest me, and I might have the chance to train in the US or on the continent.

Is it what you expected?
It’s probably more technically focused than I expected, but you need this basis so you can work with our technical teams and understand the services we provide. Accenture has just remodelled its training programme to be more flexible – if you join the firm with an expressed interest in business issues, you get different training.

What sort of prospects for promotion does Accenture offer?
There is a general raise in salary every year, and to start with, people get promoted en masse once yearly. After two years in the firm pay becomes more performance related. Generally, if you progress with your peer group, you are promoted a level every November. If for some reason you do not get promoted on schedule, there’s the possibility that you will get moved up six months later depending on your performance.

How many hours do you work?
This completely varies from project to project, and as deadlines near you can expect to work longer hours. On average, I’d say I work between 50 to 55 hours a week- 8am to around 6.30 or 7pm.

How do you stop work dominating your life?
It is important to make sure you’re achieving your work goals but at the same time make sure there’s balance in your life. Having a regular evening activity during the week – like football training or a night class – is a good idea, as you can ensure you get some breathing space from the office. I don’t mind working hard during the week, but I keep my weekends sacred; I haven’t worked a weekend in the last 14 months.

What kind of support is there?
Accenture provides its employees with a strong support system. It’s very structured, and everybody knows what is expected of them. There are regular reviews with your manager where you set yourself targets and each employee is also assigned a mentor (a senior manager in the firm), completely detached from their project, who helps set yearly goals across a range of criteria.

What sort of personality do you need to be an analyst at Accenture?
I’d say you have to be pretty quick off the mark because on occasion you can be thrown in at the deep end and be expected to master a new skill or understand a new area of work within a tight timeframe. It definitely helps to be enthusiastic too. It’s generally client-facing work, so consultants have to be quite diplomatic.

Would you change anything about your job?
More money! What else would I change? I would have liked to have had more say in what I initially did work-wise. But having said that, I think Accenture has really acknowledged in the last year that the personal preferences of new recruits must be taken into account when they are being assigned to projects.

What advice would you give to graduates wanting to go into your area?
Don’t rush anything. Sit back; look at the companies that are on offer. It’s definitely a graduates’ market – you don’t need to take the first job you’re offered. And I’d take time out to travel between college and work. You will be working hard when you do get a job, and may not have the option to take time off for some time, so you may as well take the time and enjoy it while you can.

What can you see yourself doing in five years’ time?
If I stay with Accenture, hopefully in five years’ time I’ll be a manager. I’d be quite happy to stay until then. After that, I might do an MBA, or look for completely different work.

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