Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Accenture Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2016) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- Accenture helps employees in their family planning through a very generous IVF subsidy to employees requiring in-vitro fertilization treatments (to a maximum of $15,000) as well as maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 85% of salary for 15 weeks) for new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents
- Accenture encourages employees to think beyond their roles through an enlightened "Inventor Award Program" that offers financial awards to employees who create patentable assets -- since 2006, over $2.4 million in cash awards and other recognition have been awarded to over 1,450 employees
- Accenture is also helping to redefine how we work with most employees working from laptops (there are no desktop computers) and deciding from where to work within the office (or at home), depending on their role and daily commitments
Accenture employees lead the digital revolution
Bill Morris, the Canadian President of Accenture, sits in a bright turquoise chair at the large circular table in the company's Innovation Centre in Toronto waiting for a meeting participant to beam in from Ottawa on the video screen. "It was a great day when we threw out all the phones," he says, gesturing around the phone-free, high-tech room.
"Nobody was using them. They were like museum pieces with long cords cluttering up the space. They were relics of a bygone era."
As one of the world's foremost management consulting, technology, digital, strategy and outsourcing firms, Accenture is redefining the workforce. Many employees decide whether to work from the office, client locations or home, depending on their role and daily commitments. The dress code depends on their agenda. Morris is wearing jeans.
The office is modern and sleek with electrical outlets everywhere, sit/ stand desks and "telepresence" meeting rooms, which can be booked from every continent.
Accenture is setting an example as it helps Canada's biggest and best-known organizations find digital solutions to drive growth and transform businesses.
"This is a really exciting time for us and our people," says Morris, "because they want to change the way the world works and lives. We're not just consultants, we implement all the way through," working with partners including third-party technology suppliers.
From the video screen, Dave Telka, a Senior Manager in the Digital Practice who works with government and the private sector, chimes in to say that even late adopters are less technology resistant than in the past.
Both Morris and Telka are Accenture veterans with decades of service under their belts, and Apple watches on their wrists. In a LinkedIn post, Telka writes: "I've been talking a lot about wearables and how they will transform the way we work. How could I talk about this without actually field testing a wearable product?"
Accenture used wearables in an oil and gas industry solution to enhance safety for the field workforce, and has a platform for mobile payments that can be used with smart watches. In the realm of defence and public safety, it is exploring the use of wearables to oversee troop placement and vitals tracking.
Telka wasn't convinced of the business benefits of posting on social networks, but tried it at Morris's urging. At first, he was disappointed in the lack of reaction, but then people started bringing up his online work.
The CIO of a big government department approached him on public transit and announced, "I've been reading your stuff on drones and GDP." Colleagues and prospective clients commented on another post about how Telka's kids talk to Siri on his watch.
In a sense, Telka is building his personal "Digital Dave" brand alongside the Accenture brand. It's a strategy the company encourages and which has appeal to younger employees, who want, in Morris's words, "freedom and a feeling of control."
As much as Accenture encourages clients to use digital to improve services and engagement with clients and consumers, Telka adds that it's also a factor internally in attracting and retaining employees. With some 4,000 employees in Canada and 358,000 worldwide, Accenture offers a huge variety of opportunities. "Young people can roll on and off projects all the time," says Morris.
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Top 100 Employers winners, published November 9, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.
Accenture's Fjord adds edge to the Toronto team
Accenture is opening up a studio for its innovative Fjord design brand in Toronto. But don't look to the new Fjord team for a simple website redesign
or an app refresh. According to Scott Weisbrod, the studio lead and Group Service Design Director charged with setting up the Toronto location, that's just a small part of what Fjord's all about.
"You want to hire Fjord to help you with the big, hairy problem that seems impossible to solve," he explains. "We see a demand for the services
Fjord provides within Accenture."
When Accenture acquired Fjord in 2013, the idea was that the whole would be greater than the sum of the parts. Seen as an iconic brand in design thinking and service design, Fjord was an ideal acquisition for Accenture, which helps the world's biggest and best-known organizations find digital solutions to drive growth and transform businesses. It does this for all industries working across its strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations divisions.
Part of Accenture Interactive, the Fjord team of designers and developers
have access to global resources as well as assignments that are many and varied. Their studio is located at Accenture's Toronto headquarters, a sleek and modern office equipped with an innovation centre, relaxed work spaces and "telepresence" meeting rooms, which allow participants to beam in from around the world.
Accenture and its Fjord team are setting an example as they help some of Canada's biggest and best known organizations find digital solutions to drive growth and transform their businesses. "We're not just consultants, we implement all the way through," says Bill Morris, Senior Managing Director and Canadian President of Accenture. "That makes Fjord an especially good fit."
According to Weisbrod: "Fjord is known as a trailblazer, and then you layer Accenture on top of us, it puts us on a whole different playing field." The new studio, which will comprise some 20 people at first, is still staffing up and there is plenty of room for growth. Fjord has 20 design studios around the world, and the biggest have in the range of 100 employees.
So what are some of the big, hairy problems Accenture's Fjord team addresses?
Well, says Weisbrod, "Companies might come to Fjord and ask, 'How do we immerse ourselves in the world of consumers?'"
Weisbrod sees two major trends - number one, the digitization of everything, and number two, a massive shift in consumers' expectations of brands. Just as the world of entertainment has been transformed by digital so it will revolutionize the finance and health industries, your home and your car.
Consumers' expectations are no longer shaped just by direct competitors but by what Weisbrod calls "perceptual competitors." Digital products and services are chipping away at the foundations of traditional businesses like banks. Weisbrod cites, as an example, U.S.-based Acorns.com, an app which promises "lowering the barrier to investing by letting its customers invest their spare change into diversified portfolios."
"It's showing how easy it can be, and shifting expectations," he explains. "People ask, 'Why doesn't my bank have a service like that?'"
So-called experiential competitors don't even have to be in the same line of business. Consumers familiar with the frictionless service provided by Uber, disruptor of taxi and limo companies, want the same standard of service from their telco or bank.
"We approach human problems with heart and empathy. We try to understand users and their needs," says Weisbrod. Oftentimes, Fjord will help clients make life easier for their own employees. It might, for example, "create a portal to help them be more effective in daily tasks and routines," explains Weisbrod. The goal is to have maximum impact on as many people as possible.
For Accenture and Fjord, says Morris, "this is a really exciting time for us and
our people, because they want to change the way the world works and lives."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Greater Toronto's Top Employers winners, published December 8, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 10, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Accenture Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016):
- Accenture manages a summer consulting internship program, which includes an opportunity to attend a student leadership conference in the United States, participation in a Thought Leadership project (presented to senior leaders at the end of the term), and volunteer opportunities through the company's "Intern Day of Service" event
- Accenture offers a mobile "app" to help candidates prepare for their interview -- the app includes mobile notifications regarding the time, date and location of the interview, a summary of the position, the name of the recruiter and general interview tips -- Accenture continues to extend its support to new grads who are hired by assigning a career counsellor and offering regular access to senior leaders through meetings, lunch and learns and community events
- Accenture recruits diverse youth by participating in the Workplace Essential Skills Partnership career fair for university and college graduates with disabilities and recently hosted students from UofT's WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) association for a workshop and networking session with senior-level employees
Accenture attracts smart people from many fields
The three young employees from Accenture's vast Financial Services practice are gathered around the boardroom table in a downtown Toronto skyscraper. They all have very different educational backgrounds, but they also have one important thing in common. During their university years, before they had ever considered consulting as a career option, they all connected, through volunteer work, with Accenture employees, who opened their eyes to the possibility of a job they didn't know existed.
Now, all three work at Accenture, which counts among its clients four-fifths of the world's top banks, all of the top 10 investment banks globally, and 30 of 35 insurers in the Fortune 500. All three employees live in Toronto, the second largest financial centre in North America and a 'Top Ten' global financial centre, according to the Toronto Financial Services Alliance. And all three have also recently been promoted.
Jegan Kanaganayakam's campus volunteer project, sponsored by Accenture, came along just when he was realizing that a career in engineering might not be for him. In his internships, he had felt pigeon-holed. "I didn't get opportunities to use all my skills," he explains. "I felt if I went into engineering I'd never get that true breadth of opportunities."
After learning about Accenture, Jegan, now a manager-level employee, came to see it "as an extension of school in many ways, an opportunity to try different industries."
Justin Scaini's "aha!" moment happened when he was volunteering on a youth mental health project after switching his minor from drama to economics. His major was life sciences but his interests shifted to the efficiency and economic sides of industry, and helping organizations sharpen their focus on high priority opportunities.
Talking to an Accenture employee he met through volunteering convinced him to apply for an entry-level job. In his current Financial Services Consultant role, he says, "I learn about big problems in big industries. I'm interested in the efficiency side of the practice. I've become much more analytical since joining Accenture."
In Galina Kashkina's case, her current position as a Financial Services Consultant seems more of an obvious fit. Yet, despite the fact she studied business and has been interested in money management since a grade school project, she says, "I didn't know consulting existed. Business school exposed me to this world."
During her first two years with Accenture, she worked with the products and financial services practices. Now she's part of a team occupied with a large digital transformation in retail banking. She likes the variety and different experiences. "You can be switching assignments every three to six months," she says. "You can't compare it to anything else."
Kashkina also volunteers at Western University, helping student volunteers to put their skills to use for charities and nonprofits, through Accenture's corporate citizenship program. It's where she first made her Accenture where she first made her Accenture contacts so she's come full circle.
Since joining Accenture, Scaini has done 14 weeks of pro bono work with Progress Place, a mental health clinic. He did this as part of the Skills to Succeed global initiative where Accenture employees help charities to achieve the company's goal of equipping 3 million people around the world with the skills to get a job or build a business by the end of fiscal 2020.
Bill Morris, the Canadian President of Accenture who's been with the company for more than three decades, says younger employees want to contribute to causes they're passionate about - something that wasn't a workplace core value when he first joined up.
Another thing that's changed, he says, is the sharp reduction in time and cost required for innovation. "You can innovate fast. That's really exciting for us and our people because they want to change the way the world works and lives. It's a great time. I wish I was just starting with the company."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Top Employers for Young People winners, published January 11, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Accenture Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- Accenture's Canadian office recently participated in the Partners for Mental Health "Not Myself Today" campaign and conducted a national mental health survey to better understand employee knowledge and attitudes towards mental health and illness -- the company also maintains a global Persons with Disabilities Champions program, with over 1,500 members, focussing on workplace accommodations, providing assistive technology and supporting global networking and recruitment efforts, as well as facilitating mentoring opportunities for employees with disabilities
- Accenture manages global and Canadian networks to support LGBT employees, providing opportunities for networking and mentoring, and offers North American LGBT leadership training -- additionally, the organization sends monthly LGBT newsletters to subscribing employees and maintains a "Transgendered Portal" intranet site to help transgendered employees to connect as well as provide resources and information on related issues
- Through Accenture's 18-month diverse supplier program, certified minority and woman-owned business enterprises are partnered with Accenture executives for mentoring and professional development opportunities
"I helped organize the mental health campaign (Not Myself Today) activities in my local office in November. Not only was I impressed by Accenture's commitment to this campaign, but I was truly inspired by the interest from the different offices and project teams to get involved. The events that were hosted all across Canada prompted conversations and dialogue about mental health in the workforce and serve as a great example of an employer and its employees working together to help make the fundamental changes needed to overcome the stigma of mental health." Shelley B., Business Operations Specialist
Women execs value Accenture's flexibility, culture
Late last year, Accenture announced its promotions to the position of managing director in Canada. Eight of the 13 new appointments were women, and to start 2016 they met in Toronto to receive training for their new role. Let's listen in.
Naomi Manley-Casimir, Managing Director, Accenture Innovation Centre for Utilities, has come from Vancouver. She's been with the company 22 years.
Susan Johnston, Managing Director, Financial Services, Canada West, is in town from Edmonton. She's a 29-year Accenture veteran.
And Jocelyn Kolkman, Client Relationship Managing Director for Resources/Utilities, has flown in from Calgary. Although she's been at Accenture for 12 years, she's the newcomer.
The three new managing directors are discussing what makes Accenture - the world's foremost management consulting, technology, digital, strategy and operations firm - an employer of choice for women. Flexibility is high on their list.
Johnston, who had been a consultant travelling several days a week, chose to move into a services role when her children were young. "I decided to do a lateral transfer," she says. "As an individual, you have to prioritize what's important to you at different points. There are points where your career is number one and points where family is number one."
In the services role, Johnston saw "an opportunity to do something different and develop really deep client skills." When her children were older and she returned to consulting, she brought those skills with her.
Manley-Casimir also limited her travel after her daughter was born. While maternity benefits have always been great for Accenture employees in Canada, she says the programs are even better now. "You don't have to travel for the first year after your child is born, there's real support for parental leave for both women and men, and you can even ship your breast milk around free when travelling on business."
Kolkman finds herself taking advantage of Accenture's family friendliness at the other end of the spectrum. Her mother-in-law recently had a health crisis which caused her to have to fly home in the middle of a meeting. "It was not a problem and when I got home, I had a network to tap into," she says. As part of her Accenture benefits, she was connected to elder support programs.
Kolkman's also pleased that Accenture recently doubled from 40 to 80 the number of hours of backup dependent care it provides for children, spouses or elderly family members.
The women all feel they have seen a real shift in attitudes over the course of their careers. "Twenty years ago there was a pretty standard set of expectations," says Johnston. "Now,
both males and females having families want flexibility. And I think Accenture has responded very positively in creating the programs they have."
She notes that the number of women in senior roles at client companies has also grown immensely and that "having a diverse leadership team at the table with a diverse client team is a huge strength in a customer oriented business."
Kolkman says that while "technology has been the enabler of a lot of flexibility policies, the differentiator is really around the culture and thinking of our leadership team."
For Manley-Casimir, one of the things that has helped her advance at Accenture is that the criteria for success are clear and the company is a meritocracy. "I've always been confident my career success is in my own hands," she says, adding that she can reach out to colleagues and the leadership team to seek advice. "If you need a new challenge, they're more than willing to understand what you're looking for and how to bring that to life."
All of the women value Accenture's commitment to training - the company spent $840 million worldwide on training in fiscal 2015 - and have taken advantage of it. Ditto the women's networks, employee resource groups, and, for Kolkman, the book club "which may involve food and a glass of wine."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Best Diversity Employers winners, published February 24, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.