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As Senior Managers at Accenture, one of the world’s largest professional services firms, Farzana Badruddoja and Dr. Azurii Collier have helped clients transform ideas into life-changing products and services. Badruddoja, who joined Accenture in 2006, has spent her career delivering custom software solutions. Collier joined the company in 2014. As part of the Pharmaceutical R&D practice she’s applying her experience as a neuroscientist to help companies get medicines to patients more quickly. The two women recently met for a virtual chat to reflect on their respective, fast-growth careers.

What’s your role at Accenture?

Azurii: I lead global, large-scale transformations for  pharma and biotech companies. I spend my time focused on client services and delivery, helping clients adopt cloud-based solutions to improve their regulatory processes. I help get medicines to patients faster.

Farzana: I started as an analyst straight out of college, doing Java delivery, then big data analytics, which is where my expertise is right now as part of the Applied Intelligence practice. Right now I’m at a life sciences client like you, Azurii, working on a cloud transformation project. We're helping the client generate reports to understand the efficacy of drug trials.

How have professional networks and connections with other women helped you advance professionally?

Farzana: One constant throughout my career has been a particular female mentor who’s been with me since I was an analyst. She’s my go-to person. She's shaped my working style and even how I interact with people, and has been incredibly consistent and supportive. 

Azurii: My PhD is in Cognitive Neuroscience. I came into consulting wanting to ensure that research discoveries were able to translate into a product or a process that was going to help heal someone. I was very intentional about finding women mentors, particularly in academia. I echo your sentiments, Farzana, around ensuring there are mentors at each stage of your career. Right now, I’m focused on sponsors. You need sponsors that can advocate for you at the table when you're not physically present. 

Is there a particular assignment or project that you are particularly proud of?

Azurii: I was recently on a project that’s meaningful, and timely. The clients were looking to define a strategy to increase recruitment in clinical trials, ensuring there was appropriate communication before, during, and after clinical trial participation. Through those tangible initiatives, we were able to increase enrollment and engagement in the trials. 

Farzana: I’m on a project right now where we're generating reports on a drug which recently got FDA approval. That was really cool for me, and I even read about it in the New York Times! That's where you see where you're really truly having an impact. 

What have you learned about resilience over the past year?

Farzana: I think the past year I have definitely learned how resilient and adaptable we as humans are. Overnight, our company and our clients shifted to remote working. We lost a lot of the daily human contact we are so used to, and our ways of working, daily routines and interactions changed. Yet, through all the sudden change we continued to work through it all being just as productive (if not more). It really showed me how we, as people, are resilient, adaptive and creative and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Azurii: I recognize that I’m very fortunate considering everything that's happened in the world. I learned that the things that I probably was looking for externally, I already had. The simple things, being present to what's already abundant around me, and the extra time to be more thoughtful around connections with people. 

What’s your advice for young women who are pursuing careers in your field?

Azurii: Keep going, and stay with it. Don't let anyone turn you around. Stay the course and continue to be curious. You have a place here. 

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