Isla Kennedy, Project Manager at Accenture

By Isla Kennedy, Project Manager at Accenture

I actually always wanted to join the Army, but after a serious skiing accident in my second year of university, I had to re-think. I decided to give consultancy a go as it allowed me to try some different things, would give me a good base if I then decided to so something else, and moving around projects would keep it interesting. So I applied to all the usual big consultancies including Accenture, who offered me a job.

I joined Accenture four and a half years ago, and was aligned to Technology, rather than Management Consultancy. I had done Computing at A-Level so I had some technology background, and I have always found technology exciting. I love the possibilities for innovation and disruption, and as a social scientist (I did Philosophy, Politics and Economics at university) I love to see how technology changes the way we live and interact.

After a few projects, including a long stint on an enterprise mobility project, looking at the business moving from BlackBerrys and feature phones to Smartphones and all the business and process change associated with that, I was aligned to the Mobility practice within Accenture, which then became part of Accenture Digital. Accenture Digital includes Mobility, Interactive and Analytics and I love being part of this new area of the business, which is always looking to the future and how we can stay one step ahead to help our clients keep up with the digital transformation happening across all industries.

In my temp job before starting at Accenture I remember asking my colleagues why they needed the internet on their phones and being quite happy with my little flip phone. I bought my first smartphone when I joined Accenture and now I rely on it so much. I also love the flexibility it gives me. I can take calls whilst travelling between offices, check my emails on my morning commute, use the security token on my phone to connect to my client network if I’m working from home, join conference calls direct from my calendar, and more. There are still so many ideas to explore within digital technology and I look forward to working with clients to figure them out, share them with my Accenture colleagues around the globe (all 336,000 of them) and be a part of this exciting future.

As a project manager I don’t have to be super-techie and I’m not actually developing or coding anything. But I have to understand the bigger picture so I can manage all the different pieces of the project puzzle. I have specialists in my team that look after development, solution architecture (how all the different tech parts fit together), testing and more, so I don’t need to understand all the details of every element. But it is key that I ‘get it’ and understand the language used and the different stages of the technology lifecycle (design, build, test, deploy). A lot of my job is making sure people are doing what they should be doing and that they are talking to the right people, so again, I need to understand the basics of how it all works together so I can check everything is happening as it should, and shout when it’s not!

Working at Accenture has also given me the chance to use my feminist passion to try and inspire more girls and women into the tech industry. I co-ordinate our Girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) initiatives across the UK and Ireland, which include a schools programme where we bring in girls aged 10-13 to teach them to build an app and show them that technology is creative, fun and impactful, large events to inspire girls into STEM, graduate recruitment programmes and much more. The stats are scary (only 17% of technology professionals are women) and so I am determined to help create a bigger pipeline of women coming into the tech industry.

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