Close

September 30, 2019

Working at Accenture: Truth after Ten Years

I started working at Accenture in 2006.  

I saw my other young friends who were working in consulting and banking and traveling around the world and I wanted to do the same.  

To be honest, when I applied I just cared about getting frequent flier points and hotel stays. The specific details of the type of work and technology I didn’t care about as long as I was in tech, at a big company, and my salary was similar to my peers which was my only frame of reference. 

However, despite the usual “finding what you really want to do” struggle (and existential despair) of being young and in your twenties, I had a great time working there.  

Consulting and corporate life get a bad rap, but although there were many Michael Scott from The Office types of days, large-tech and consulting companies are a nice extension of college and give you time and money and at least ONE direction to start moving towards.  

Where you go from there is up to you. 

I had no other ambitions but a paycheck and student loan repayment (who does at 22) so this was just fine by me. 

It was fun, it was tough, there were long days and easy ones, but overall I took care of them by doing what I was supposed to (even when I initially had no clue how to) and they took care of me with decent pay and stocks that eventually did better. 

I was also grateful that Google existed and I didn’t need 600 Java or SQL or Business Objects (now an SAP product) manuals on my desk like all the older folks. 

I personally:

  • spent four years flying around the USA,
  • went to St. Charles (near Chicago) a bunch of times for various training weeks (which is awesome when you’re younger),
  • took a few months leave of absence to debate going to business school,
  • then got an expat gig in India and decided to embrace it. 

I spent the next 5 years in Bangalore, Mumbai, and Chennai just living the outsourcing lifestyle while pursuing my comedy hobbies as a young single dude on the side. Even when I was still in India, I got to take a leave of absence again to decide whether I wanted to stay or go. 

I left in 2016 to do stand up comedy and digital stuff full time, as there was a comedy revolution in India and for better or worse (in hindsight) I wanted to be a part of it.  Not because Accenture sucked (it was fine), or my boss sucked (he was great), or that I hated being in the corporate world (I love nice offices and free food and per diems I don’t always spend), but I just had this creative itch that wasn’t going to go anywhere and found something I liked doing even more so than the cool tech job with good perks and pay.   

Had I never discovered comedy and YouTube and even writing this blog (all of which is much harder than staying up late fixing database issues), I’d probably still be there trying to sign million-dollar analytics deals, reading white papers, attending conferences, reviewing IT strategy roadmap decks and pretending to be excited on all the client calls.

I got some jokes about working in Tech Consulting here 🙂

I won’t lie and say I was “super passionate about helping our clients achieve high performance” or whatever corporate BS you have to say (which clients can sniff a mile away), but I found a job I liked and that was good at, which was just swell.  

I think most people in tech who don’t flat out hate their job probably feel the same way.  

It’s not rocket science, but you’re getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do something respectable, not super stressful yet sometimes challenging, and compensates you to live the life you really want (family, house, perks, boat, travel, whatever). 

What’s so bad about that? 

You can be a VP at Salesforce and be happy, or you can be an entrepreneur and be miserable, or vice versa.  A job, just like spouse or kids won’t make you happy. It’ll just help get you there.  

Most People’s Experience in IT or Corporate Life

A lot of people, both in India and America have a strange sense of entitlement on what companies are supposed to do for them.  And the more the companies give, the more we expect. 

In fact, I once met the CEO of another massive IT company that rhymes with “WINFO-CISS” and he said the same thing, that the youth expects too much too soon without putting in the time.  

It’s like “Bro, that’s great you’re 22 and you want someone to send you to America or Sweden tomorrow, but put in the time for a few years so we know that if we train you, you won’t just leave for another company to make $5K more ok? 

In India, you’ll hear things like “Biggest thieves dirty IT scoundrels and cheats they owe me two weeks back pay after I quit” and in America, you’ll hear people talking about busting their butts or being a corporate slave or whatever else people write on Glassdoor.  

But like, give me a break maybe?  

Take control of your destiny and extensive resources and make good things happen for yourself chief. Quit and start elsewhere if you find yourself in one of those miserable password reset support roles with no end in sight or step up and put in the hard work and emails and training courses to find something else, either internally or externally. 

Everybody who complains about their job acts like it’s the company’s fault, when these days so many massive companies give you so many benefits and leeway. 

The only thing they can’t teach you to do is to speak up for yourself, which you’ll have to learn on your own.

Many large tech companies even have these “make your own role” type of opportunities where you can just find your own corner to be productive in after a few years, yet people are still just jaded and upset. 

The reality, I think is that people probably have bigger problems which they just want to blame on their employer (or spouse, or society) than figuring it out for themselves. 

Remember That All Jobs Can Suck

I’m not saying Accenture is this amazing place, or technology consulting is all fun and no boring soul-crushing work sometimes, I’m just letting you know that every job can suck.

  • Projects can be a waste of budget or be pointless,
  • Managers can be horrible (I met a few at Accenture just like anywhere else)
  • Finding purpose in your work on some ERP system you have no clue about for people you’ll never meet isn’t exactly easy.

But neither is eating your vegetables, learning to code or trying to learn a foreign language. 

Eventually, however, you grow past it, find a way to make things line up for you, and build a unique experience that you’ll hopefully know what to do with down the road. In millennial words, you learn how to monetize your resume.

Also, you ever notice you only pay attention to the bad reviews and skim past the good ones?  Restaurants, Amazon products, and yes, even at large companies on job review sites.

Is Accenture A Good Place to Work? 

Accenture is a great place to work if you want a career, but not just a job.  

They give you a couple of basic skills or put you on a technology path, but then you’re kind of just a freelancer looking for jobs again, only this time all the jobs are within Accenture.  

From there you make contacts, upskill your resume and play the game of squeezing as much out of it as you can.  

You could end up on some lame role QA testing stuff for 5 years being miserable or you could learn how to convince someone 3 years older than you (a skill you’ll need anyways in life) to find a way out of that role, learn Python in your free time and then find another project you like.  

In America, you’ll likely deal with folks in India to get things done while doing business analyst or reporting type stuff for a client, and in India, you’ll probably be more technical and manage your own team while also reporting to your US counterparts.

Eventually, you move up and now your responsibility is to keep pushing your clients for more projects *cough* sales *cough*, and more money means more pressure, meetings, targets, etc… A lot of people exit here (as I did) to do other things elsewhere, and many other push through to be a partner and hopefully find a happy medium for themselves. 

It basically becomes a game of executives keeping other executives happy.

Accenture Work Culture

If I had to describe the Accenture work culture I’d say they look for people who are the cool kids in the room, but the nerds in their families.  

If you’re just a Java or programming ninja with no social skills or get nervous giving a powerpoint demo for 3 people, you’ll have to learn soon or better just work as a coder somewhere else.  

Similarly, if you’re a sales guy or girl who won’t touch even a piece of HTML or SQL, you’ll probably have a hard time too. 

If you want a company that holds your hand every step of the way, telling you what to do and when to do it (which is fine), the other players might be better.  If you like uncertainty and doubt but trying to find your own path (in a somewhat closed structure) then Accenture could work for you. 

What does Accenture Do?

Accenture is a technology consulting firm.  They’re in the B2B (business to business) space and are a massive corporation that helps other corporations with their (majority) software projects.  

The funny thing is I bet you that most 22-year-olds who get hired into tech consulting companies really have no idea what they do either. 

  1. For example, a company like Citibank might need building or upgrading its online banking service, or ATM software or credit card systems. 
  2. Since the tech part is not part of their core business, (e.g. someone who helps open more checking accounts doesn’t care about upgrading Linux or Windows on the banking server), they’ll usually hire Accenture (or TCS or Deloitte or whoever) to manage that.  Accenture may then keep a lot of those employees in India to cut their own costs, with a bunch of expats to oversee it all. 
  3. On a similar note, a company like Accenture might have 10,000 expats, all of whom need’ to figure out their taxes when spending 4 months in Texas and 8 in India.  Who pays for what? So they hire Ernst and Young for figure out 10,000 complicated tax returns. 
  4. And Ernst and Young might have a hard time recruiting hot-shot kids from college who could work at social media startups, but instead, they need to convince them that taxes are exciting. So they’ll consult with a recruitment agency that may specialize in Instagram or Social Media HR for that. 

Accenture Work Timings

Usually, in America, you’ll work about 8:30 AM to 7 PM with random downtime in the middle, and in India, the timings are like 10 AM to 7 PM with a lot of chilling in the middle.

Chai breaks, long walks around the campus, whatever.  Of course, if you’re busy you minimize those, but the culture is a lot more relaxed since a lot of people feel they’ll take a call later at night or early morning. 

I spent about 45 hours a week, usually working from 8 AM to 6 PM and checking emails here and there in the evenings just to look like I was busy.  

Shorter Projects are Worse Than Longer Project

I did get put on one project for 2 months that was a nightmare, where I worked 8 AM to 1 AM pretty much daily, but looking back I’m glad I learned how to make things happen when my back was against the wall.  I honestly don’t remember if I put in overtime or not then, but it was a nightmare but also something I thought “you just do as you pay your dues.” In reality, I just had a bad manager who didn’t tell us what we were supposed to do and then we just ran around trying to figure it out. 

The Pros and Cons of Working at Accenture

  • Accenture has a fantastic employee referral program (at least it did when I was there) and the higher the position, the more you’ll get if the employee is hired and stays there six months.  
  • For example, someone who gets a friend or ex-colleague hired at a Manager level with Analytics or SAP (whichever app or system) could make $7500 to $15,000 or more (taxed at half though).  
  • They also recruit heavily in India and at campuses across America and the world, so there really is an opportunity at every corner and anywhere in the world.
  • If you’re on a bad project, you can put in six months to a year and then start making excuses to get out it of and go somewhere else. 
  • The pay is competitive but not the highest. A lot of people can earn double working as a contractor for a client they stared at while still with Accenture (happens all the time), but then they have sort out their health insurance, taxes, whatever while also losing stocks in a bull market (which we’ve been lucky to be in for some time). 
  • The travel is exciting when you’re younger, being 25 and in the business class seat. It sucks after a while and you never want to see a hotel again. 
  • A lot of tech projects are for support and development on systems you don’t care about and never will. 
  • It’s hard to see the impact or find meaning from your work (I know it sounds harsh but I’d say the same thing about finance and investment bankers as well).
  • So many company emails and organizational changes and people you sometimes don’t know who’s who.  You also start ignoring every email or townhall session.
  • As with any company, you can also find a corner and earn six figures doing nothing for 6 hours a day and think it’s cool and then eventually just be miserable. 
  • It’s the only tech company I know where you learn tech skills, office politics, public speaking, HR (even if you’re a developer) and more all in one go.  

Conclusion

Read Next: How to Get Onsite Opportunities

Should you work at Accenture? I can only give you my experience, but if you’re tech-savvy and also fairly extroverted it might be a good fit.  

If not, you still can but it might be out of your comfort zone.  You’ll definitely be a lot more well rounded than someone who just worked at Microsoft for ten years, and might get 15 years of work experience in half the time.  

So if that sounds cool with you, for sure. 

On the other hand, it iss hard to bounce around the country migrating databases if you’re strictly technical and don’t care beyond the role itself. Or if you have a family or don’t like to travel or just want something a bit more stable and straightforward, I’d advise against it. 

Although, who really has a stable life in today’s fast-paced world anyways right? 

Let me know your feedback and thoughts in the comments, if you quit, are still there or debating. I’d love to jam on that with you!

Sanjay Manaktala worked in IT for ten years and now does stand up comedy and digital content creation. His Book My Beta Does Computer Things was recently published by Harper Collins.

Let me know if this helped you or any comments?