Laura Peterson is a model of perseverance, courage and leadership. She has risen to the highest ranks to become a Managing Director at Accenture, and she makes a point of supporting women all throughout the company and helping them rise. Laura has a positive energy that is just contagious. We are lucky to have her a member of the Fairygodboss Advisory Board, and a member of our “work tribe.”
Fairygodboss of the Week: Laura Peterson
Managing Director, Accenture
New York, NY
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
LP: I went to the University of Colorado Boulder and studied Marketing, International Business and Economics. Despite my majors, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I thought Consulting looked interesting, so I pursued it. Who would have known that 16 years later I’d be at Accenture, leading clients through large scale programs that are transforming their businesses. I’ve had the opportunity to take on a variety of roles – and looking back I never thought I’d land in ‘sales,’ but I find it very exciting. It turned out to be a great fit with my skills.
I’ve spent most of my career on the road, but after years of traveling for work, I was gravitating towards wanting to spend time with clients over a longer-term in one place, versus pursuing the excitement of taking on new projects in different locations. I was feeling a sense of impermanence, like my life was in a suitcase. And my son felt it too. So I worked with Accenture to explore opportunities to move into a new role leading client accounts, which would allow me to travel less. I ended up finding such a role, but there was a catch: my clients would be in New York City, not Denver, so we would need to relocate.
And we did. Fast-forward and I’m leading Accenture’s relationships with a couple of NYC based clients and, most importantly, I’m in one place with my family.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
LP: I’ve pursued a very unconventional path throughout my career with Accenture, taking on roles outside of Consulting in BPO, Operations, Sales, starting over with new leadership teams and stakeholders frequently. I realize my journey is unconventional, but my path enabled me to not only advance my career, but to learn so much about our business, our clients and myself.
FGB: What is a challenge that you’ve faced and overcome?
LP: Moving to New York and taking on a new role within Accenture about two years ago which, to me, felt like starting over. It was a great opportunity for me to make a change, but also a huge challenge. Moving at that point in my career and personal life was really scary – rebuilding a network, a home base, finding a new support system, all in the middle of learning a new role and new team was incredibly difficult. I had amazing people around me who I knew were in my corner, but the hardest part was trusting myself to be ‘good enough’ to do it and being kind to myself when things weren’t perfect.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
LP: Either hanging with my very fun son, wandering the neighborhoods of NYC, or I’m on a plane to Heathrow, en route to see my fiancé and wonderful soon-to-be stepdaughter who live in England.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
LP: Margaret Thatcher. What she achieved for the era in which she lived is amazing. I’d love to hear her stories.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
LP: ‘Alive’ by Pearl Jam.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
LP: The Holiday, with Cameron Diaz and Jude Law.
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
LP: The Edge by Dick Francis
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
LP: Amazon Prime – for everything. But new luggage tends to be a thing for me. I’m always on the quest for the perfect laptop bag. If I win the lottery, I’ll buy a vacation home in Mallorca. My fiancé and I both love the island. It would be somewhere special to go with our kids and come together as a family.
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
LP: One of my best girlfriends, Amy Stuart. She’s ‘had my back’ unconditionally since our senior year of college. She’s my biggest cheerleader, always has a pep talk ready and has dropped everything to fly to New York when I really needed some support. She owns her own business, is involved in the community and raises three kids while still finding time to be ‘her’ – I am in awe.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share?
LP: Find your work family, your tribe – of both women and men – who ‘get you’, make you laugh and bring out the best in you. We all spend so much time at work, so these are the people who not only make life more fun, they help you be you and always have your back. This family will be there with you at three in the morning, bailing water out of the boat when it starts leaking (which it will at one point or another).
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