Gartner IT / XPO Seminar – When high school students ask Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, What Should They Study in College, gave the same resounding answer: “Major in what you love.”
However, it does add a caveat:
“Take a class in technology.”
This is what one might imagine the CEO of one of the most powerful consulting firms in the world would say.
Specializing in any interests of the student fosters curiosity and learning. Here’s what Sweet told the audience during Tuesday’s keynote at Gartner IT / Xpo . Seminar in Orlando, Florida.
Before Sweet (pictured above) became CEO, she was Accenture’s general counsel. Prior to that, she was a partner in Kravath, Swain & MooreSweet, one of the oldest law firms in the United States, applies the learning and decision-making skills she gained back in law school to her position as CEO.
And she has a lot of decisions to make.
As a global professional services company, Accenture has more than 721,000 people on its payroll. In other words, Sweet runs more people than Microsoft, Google, and Tesla combined.
What trait do she and her recruiting team look for in future employees?
The answer is not surprising.
“What we are looking for is people who like to learn … You know in the first six months after the pandemic, we have retrained 100,000 to meet the demand,” Sweet said. “So in every part of Accenture, we have educated people. And we think this is true for all companies, as it is a very important skill when hiring.”
However, remote work does not allow for the best learning conditions. According to Sweet, the second least engaged employees were those who worked remotely. (The least engaged were those who went to the office full time.)
What Accenture has learned from the pandemic is that the most engaged employees are those who have adopted the hybrid model.
However, hybrid work is more than just a modus operandi. It is mentality.
“Everyone at Accenture should feel better because they work here…so the pillars of this strategy are not about hybrid business. It is about whether people are well-off physically, mentally and financially.”
As part of this corporate development, Accenture appointed its first Health Officer last year.
When it comes to priorities, the company has always been an early adopter of groundbreaking technology.
Sweet had a lot to say about AI and metaviruses.
“As you see the move to the cloud, the understanding of what needs to happen around the data is now clear,” Sweet said. “We’re starting to see big companies really take on building data platforms. And along with that, there’s the potential to unleash AI at scale.”
She added, “The potential of AI is related to the fact that you need data at scale. Companies are still very early stage in this journey.”
Sweet spoke to an audience primarily of CIOs and digital leaders still grappling with what to do from the metaverse, which is powered by AI.
Although Accenture uses the metaverse with customers in manufacturing and facilities, the company also integrates the virtual world into onboarding and training. She also does this with meetings and collaborations.
“During the pandemic, when we could bring customers into our innovation hubs, we did it in the metaverse,” Sweet said. “For our next iteration of Metaverse, we’re actually launching a diversified gallery, bringing employee resource groups together to get to know each other.”
For Accenture, the metaverse means joining with companies like Google and Microsoft to create a global portfolio to be able to do trade in this virtual ecosystem.
“The metaverse is going to be as profound as the digital one,” she said.
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