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Haydee de Silva
University of Melbourne
Junior project and iteration manager
Haydee studied Bachelor of Engineering at RMIT University & Masters of Mechanical Engineering at University of Melbourne
What is your job title and what path did you take to get there?
I am a junior project and iteration manager at Accenture. I was born and raised in Melbourne and I completed a Bachelor of Engineering from RMIT followed by a Masters of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Melbourne, graduating in 2015. As part of my bachelor degree, I completed an internship at an aerospace engineering consulting company in Germany. I have been working at Accenture for 1 year and 9 months, having started my career as a software functionality tester. I recently moved into a project manager role.
How did you choose your specialisation?
I chose to apply for a job within Accenture’s technology space due to my background in engineering and my interest in a more ‘hands-on’ type of role. I have always found getting involved in the more technical aspects of work to be the most challenging and rewarding. Although my technical background was in engineering, there are many aspects of work in Accenture Technology that use very similar thought processes. I have definitely been able to draw on my engineering experience in terms of the way I problem solve.
What was your interview process like?
From my conversations with colleagues, I know that Accenture interview processes are quite variable. Generally, there are a few main categories of interviews; including online examinations, phone, video and face-to-face interviews. This suited me very well, as it gave me the opportunity to really get to know my interviewers and recruiter so that they could align me with a role that suited my personality. Apart from the typical interview process there are other opportunities to land a role at Accenture. This includes the Accenture Adventure and the Hackathon. My personal interview process consisted of 3 rounds. The first round was an online personality typing test, the second was a telephone interview and my final round was a skype video interview with an Accenture managing director. I was asked questions about things like my knowledge of Accenture and projects in Melbourne, personality, working style and behavioral questions. I was also asked about my short and long-term career goals in the later interview stages.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study?
For all Accenture roles, I would encourage students to read about Accenture’s technology vision each year so that they can get a head start on the jargon used in our industry and get to know what types of technology they are most interested in working with. It would be a good idea to have a bit of background knowledge about technology trends so that you can make use of networking with Accenture colleagues as soon as you start work. For technology roles, if they have a technical background, a basic knowledge of things like coding and software development/architecture is always useful – however further background knowledge will be acquired on the job.
For consulting roles, skills like Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint would highly be recommended as this will save plenty of time in their first year of work at any consulting company. And it goes without saying that excellent verbal and written communication goes a long way in this industry.
What does your employer do?
Accenture is a global company that solves our clients' toughest challenges by providing unmatched services in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. We partner with more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500, driving innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. With expertise across more than 40 industries and all business functions, we deliver transformational outcomes for a demanding new digital world.
What are your areas of responsibility?
As a project manager, my responsibilities include:
- Stakeholder Management, building and maintaining a strong trust based relationship with the client,
- Demand Management, supporting the service lead to track and manage the overall demand for a service area,
- Commercial Management, working with the client, delivery leads and contract teams to ensure that any commercial disputes are managed and resolved,
- Financial Management, monitoring budget allocations and spending on a weekly basis and taking actions for preventative or corrective measures,
- Delivery Management, being accountable for overall project status to the client and internally.
Can you describe a typical work day?
My work day could vary depending on the demands of the project. It could range from tracking the progress of a change request or managing risks, issues and dependencies, to providing estimates for an upcoming change request.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
The sort of person that would succeed at Accenture would be a person with drive and motivation — someone who can use initiative to predict what might be required of them before it is even asked. Additionally, a person who is willing to invest time into researching what is happening in Accenture and technology in general outside of their own specific project, and from there steer their career into the direction they decide.
What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?
The most important thing to note is that you can use your consulting experience in absolutely every career path. If you are flexible and willing to learn new things constantly, it doesn’t make a difference what the subject matter is that you are working on, your analytical thinking style and problem-solving methods can be used over and over again.
As a project manager, having experience in managing people provides opportunities to gain more responsibility and/or move into a different area of the solution delivery lifecycle. Furthermore, Accenture provides you with the skills and experience to do well in many other positions outside of the company. However, Accenture is such a broad organisation and there are roles that need to be filled across the board. Whether it’s consulting, finance, legal, HR, marketing or working for a subsidiary, often you don’t even need to move to a different employer in order to change your entire career.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Of course! Accenture is one of the best organisations at recruiting across a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. Whilst I come from an engineering background, a number of my colleagues have come from other STEAM or even non-STEAM backgrounds. It is very difficult to classify the main degree types that Accenture graduates have, because there are so many. The most important quality to have is a solid work ethic and an eagerness to learn new skills.
What do you love the most about your job?
I enjoy working in a collaborative environment and being able to learn from others with much more experience than myself. I particularly enjoy being a part of something bigger than the project and feeling like a part of a large family. On occasion there will be events that bring all Accenture employees back together to network and to have a good time.
What are the biggest limitations of your job?
It’s quite difficult to keep in touch with what’s happening at Accenture when you’re based on a client project all the time. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you work for Accenture and not the client. It can sometimes involve personal time to make sure you keep on top of both.
I often have a lot of responsibility at work. At the end of the day, each team has to deliver a certain amount of work and it is up to you to decide how much responsibility you want to bear. Sometimes I have had to work long hours and on the weekends if the project requires. This is usually only close to key project deliverable dates.
Are the stress levels high?
Stress levels can vary depending on the project and type of person you are. Some projects are very fast paced and this can get stressful at times if you are not able to regulate your own stress levels, or if you and your manager don’t have great communication. However there is always support available, both within and outside of the project.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I think if I wasn’t working at Accenture I would still be working in consulting, whether it be in IT or the engineering industry. I really enjoy consulting work, as it brings many challenges enabling me to explore my problem-solving abilities and grow in a fast paced environment.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your role, or even be career-focused.
- When you work for a consulting company, find yourself some mentors that you can speak honestly with about your career goals. In your first few months, when you feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing, try to learn from anyone around you who is willing to chat about what they do. Take every opportunity that presents itself.
- Have an open mind and be willing to try different things. Working in consulting, many different roles or projects might get thrown your way, but having a willingness to learn and the enthusiasm to try is what will eventually enable the development of your career.
- Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Be aware of who you are and what your passions are, and make sure those around you are aware of your long term and short terms goals. When those around you are aware of your goals they can assist you, and keep you accountable in achieving those goals.