Dana Montgomery, a manager at Accenture in their Technology Consulting practice, prides herself on her agility and her ability to stay calm amongst the chaos. Both qualities have assisted her in the shifts she’s experienced in her career — first away from Accenture, then back to the firm in a new practice, then to a new practice yet again. And she has some solid advice for career shifters, no matter their strengths.
We asked Montgomery about her best advice for women at every stage of their career. Then, she shared what makes Accenture such a great place to grow — within your practice or in a new way. One big hint: the people make all the difference.
Tell us about your job. How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been with Accenture just over 9 years in total. I tend to call myself the boomerang kid. I started with Accenture as a college hire in our DC office in the System Integration and Technology Consulting practice, then left the firm and came back as an experienced hire within our Procurement Business Processing Operations (BPO) practice. I really missed the people and culture at Accenture, scouts honor. Since, I’ve shifted back to our Technology Consulting practice, where I am a manager. I’m a servant leader — also known as a Scrum Master — for a large energy utility company.
I support my team by coaching them on agile principles and removing impediments from their path. We are 1 of over 20 different dependent partners working collaboratively to transform the customer experience for our clients. My role is 100 percent client facing and very rarely do I work in our Accenture office on a day-to-day basis.
I stay connected with my office and community through my involvement in our Employee Resource Groups. It has been a fulfilling opportunity to serve at all levels of our ERGs from the day I started with the firm. I have the pleasure to serve on the Core Leadership teams for the National African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) and the Military Spouse Employee Resource Group. My latest initiative was a donation drive hosted by the AAERG for Accenture Military Spouses with a deployed spouse. My alignment with other employees who have something in common with me outside of work is how I stay engaged, motivated and an active part of the Accenture family.
Why did you decide to come back to Accenture?
I worked for about three years at a boutique consulting firm focused on business process outsourcing. The money was good and the work was challenging, but I was unhappy. I was not a big fan of the culture. I realized I missed the diversity of people and thought that I experienced at Accenture.
Five years out of college and three states later, I was ready to move closer to home. Seems like it was fate that Accenture was in the market for a Procurement Consultant who could live anywhere on the east coast (with an Accenture office and major airport). I went to Charlotte and back to Accenture!
What’s the first thing you do at work every day? What about the last?
In the morning, I typically scan my email for any pressing notes that may have come in from my teammates located in other countries. Working with a global team requires flexibility and to be conscious of the dependencies on you across your team.
The last thing I do before leaving for the day is to check traffic conditions as I must pick up my daughter, Diona, from school by six every day. I have a hard stop on afternoon meetings to allow enough time to pick her up!
What’s the no. 1 thing Accenture does to make you feel well supported?
For me, Accenture equals the people. The best people, to be exact! Whether it is my support team or my leaders, they show up for me every day. If I’m stuck in traffic and my toddler had a morning meltdown and I am not in front of my computer to lead the daily stand-up, my analyst, my senior manager or my managing director will share their screen or kick off the call. If I am having a bad day or feeling uncomfortable about a situation, I have a career counselor and other leaders within the firm I can message and ask for 15 minutes. I have yet to have any one person tell me they did not have time.
For women who are considering careers in consulting — or for those who are looking to shift to a new consulting role — what is your no. 1 piece of advice?
This question hits home for me, because my return to Technology in 2017 involved transferring back into Accenture’s consulting workforce which can be more demanding than roles within our Business Processing Operations practice.
My biggest piece of advice is that it takes a village and you must ask for what you need from your village: your supervisor, your team, your client, your mentors, your sponsors, your family and your friends. Be empowered from day one to state your needs and establish your boundaries.
What’s your favorite aspect of Accenture’s culture and your favorite company perk?
As busy as my schedule tends to get with client obligations, I love that career counseling is built into our day-to-day model. I have an advocate who represents me and coaches me on my goals and performance priorities. And I get the opportunity to feed into and develop the next generation of leaders while they teach me new things and expand my perspective.
My favorite company perk is the four months of paid maternity leave and the one year grace period of no travel after returning from leave. The bonding time I enjoyed with Diona was invaluable and I’m grateful that I was able to spend uninterrupted time with her.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
Executing with agility. I am the calm in the middle of chaos! We are often challenged to solve problems that are ambiguous in nature and direction is not clear. I’m especially good at navigating murky scenarios, quickly assessing the situation and devising a path forward.
What about outside of work?
I love to event plan and craft! I have directed and decorated over 50 weddings and even directed a team member’s wedding last year. It goes back to being able to operate under pressure; managing pushy family members, sticky relationships, weather and personalities on one of the most memorable days of a couple’s life is not for the faint of the heart.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Two years ago, during a 2-on-1 Coffee Break with Jeffrey Russell, President of Accenture Canada, and an intern, Jeffrey shared this bit of advice that I find helps me stay centered.
He called it the 3 C’s: Creativity, Confidence, and Capabilities. They are essential skill sets. Be creative, be confident in your delivery and be capable.
Other great career advice: remember the world is your oyster. Be open minded, because the possibilities are endless. And take a risk every day.
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