Accenture Strategy Q&A

Monkeys:

I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions / confusion about Accenture Strategy so wanted to start a Q&A to give anyone interested an opportunity to get more info.

I am a current Strategy Consultant (pre-MBA), and have been with the firm for a few years since graduating from undergrad b school (think Stern / Haas / McIntire). Based in a major city (NY / SF)

This thread will skip the BS and salesy stuff -- I'll provide unbiased answers. Topics I'd be happy to speak to include, but are not limited to: the recent Accenture reorg, our position in the market and who we compete with, common project work for Strategy consultants, specific practice areas, our recruiting process, MBA sponsorship, exits, etc.

Comments (35)

Feb 10, 2020

@hockeylife1036 thanks for the AMA! Any advice for someone pre-MBA with corporate experience (F500 Industrial, O&G) wanting to join Accenture?

Tips on how to get noticed and land an interview?

Feb 17, 2020

There are two avenues for this. The first is to get an MBA and go through formal recruiting. The second is to try to lateral in as an experienced hire. Assuming your preferred route of entry is option #2, my advice would be to 1) network and 2) highlight good consulting skills on your resume. On the first point, we are hiring in most every practice and our folks are eager to connect with good talent. Would try to get calls scheduled with anyone you know in the firm or introductions if you don't know anyone. This is a much more effective way to break into our recruiting pipeline than the black box resume drop, where we get new applicants constantly. On the second, anything you can highlight on your resume that points to assessing a non-structured / complex problem, developing and then validating a hypothesis, providing a go-forward recommendation, etc. will help you stick out

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Feb 10, 2020

Can you talk comp?

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  • Consultant in Consulting
Feb 28, 2020

And how comp at the Sr Manager level compares to other Sr Managers in the firm?

Feb 10, 2020

Hi, two questions:

1) What's Accenture Strategy's position in the market; who do they compete with?

2) what's Accenture's differentiation? Cheaper than MBB? Specialization in certain subject matters and/or industries?

Thanks!!

    • 1
Feb 17, 2020

I'm going to lump both of these two questions together as they are related. Our position in the market, in my view, is that we are a solid T2 player that is a good choice for strategy-led enterprise wide transformation. In my experience, we compete most commonly with Deloitte, McK, BCG, and to a lesser extent AT-Kearney, Bain, and PwC.

The value of Accenture Strategy is that it can provide solid corporate and business unit strategy services and then back those up with an ability to execute and understanding of technology that you don't get at pure-play strategy shops like Bain, Parthenon, LEK. This is one of our primary points of differentiation.

most of our clients know that they need to embark on a 12-24 month journey to stand up new products and services, build new capabilities, take back market share, etc. But they are often unsure of where specifically they should make their biggest bets. This is the space Accenture Strategy plays best in. Much of our work involves putting together a 3 year vision then designing a roadmap to get there that involves 5-10 key initiatives and investment areas + a corresponding value case. From there, we partner with clients to build an execution plan, and other parts of Accenture often come in to help when it comes time to implement.
Unsurprisingly, we also compete on price and are cheaper than our MBB counterparts.

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  • Analyst 1 in Other
Feb 10, 2020

Can you explain the recent reorganization? Unclear what exactly happened since I've read some conflicting stuff (which is why this AMA is so valuable!).

Does the reorg take away the value of being placed in Strategy / how did people in the Strategy group feel about this?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Feb 10, 2020

What's the interview process like ? I'm talking cases specifically . How many rounds/case interviews are there ? Is it interviewer led or interviewee led or is it a format designed just by Accenture ?

Thanks

Feb 17, 2020

The interview is typically one behavioral and 1-2 cases in both the first and second round. Cases vary widely but will always be interviewer led

Feb 11, 2020

I applied for a dinner Accenture Strategy hosted for students but got rejected. Should I apply for the internship or is it a waste of time?

Feb 17, 2020

Would still apply. These dinners often have only a few spots and can get filled entirely by students that have been on our radar for quite some time.

Feb 11, 2020

What exactly does ACN strat do?

I have a few friends in ACN strat who joined out of school or were part of a boutique that was acquired and fell under the umbrella. The former seems to be group typically working alongside one of the Big4 for software implementations and some data analytics projects. The latter does a lot of various things like cloud strategy, digital retail, etc.

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Feb 12, 2020
  1. Do you think the recent merge with Consulting (ie Strategy & Consulting) will hurt or devalue the Accenture Strategy brand?
  2. What are the most typical exit opportunities for Accenture Strategy Analysts - Consultants?
  3. What have been the ranges for base salaries and % bonuses you have received as an Analyst, Senior Analyst, and Consultant?
  4. Which do you perceive to be the most prestigious areas within Accenture Strategy?
  5. Do you see yourself at Accenture for a long time? Why or why not?
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Feb 17, 2020
  1. This is certainly a risk. There's an opinion amongst our leadership team that these two groups needed to be merged, and the reasoning for that seems relatively sound (better collaboration and in-market execution at clients, more closely aligned incentives for partners selling work, easier for clients to understand the groups, etc.) What is less clear is how we continue to maintain Strategy's reputation as a group with higher pay, better exits, and higher-impact work when these two groups move into one BU. If leadership solves for this and articulates it well to the legacy strategy group, I think the re-org make sense. I believe that strategy will continue to play this role but I worry that we have a lot to do to communicate this to recruiting talent at our target undergrad and MBA programs
  2. Most common by a considerable margin are strategy and corporate finance roles at one of our F500 clients. These roles can sit within different groups including corporate development, internal consulting, strategic planning, corporate finance, or "office of the CEO" or "special projects" type groups. Also common is functional roles in supply chain, marketing, data analytics, or product. I've seen these at a wide range of companies but notable ones include Apple, Google, Nike, and Uber. Also common is "value creation" or portfolio ops teams at MM private equity funds and chief of staff type roles to executives at small and mid-sized companies
  3. pay bands are standardized and publicly available thru managementconsulted
  4. This varies by individual criteria as most groups are strong in different ways and the answer depends on what you are looking for. However, to give my two cents, I think most would agree that CFO&EV and Customer Insights and Growth Strategy are very active from a functional perspective, and CMT, Retail, and Consumer Goods & Services are high-performing industry practices.
  5. Until business school then undecided about returning after that or not
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Apr 5, 2020

This was extremely helpful, thank you very much!

Feb 12, 2020

Can you give us an example of a project that you worked on. As well, as some advice for someone who wants to start a career in Consulting?

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Feb 21, 2020

Example: portfolio optimization / growth assessment at large food and beverage retailer. Culminated in 3 year strategic road map with 12 initiatives recommended for execution in order to achieve growth objectives. Sample initiatives spanned from "introduce product x" to "invest $y in marketing campaign to cater to customer segment B" to "develop digital capability z" etc.

In terms of advise for an aspiring consultant, see below.

-You need to build consulting industry knowledge. You want to learn about what distinguish each firm from another (e.g. L.E.K. does primarily PE due dilligence, AT Kearney does a lot of supply chain and operations work, Big 4 are "do it all" types of shops, etc.). For this i'd pour over WSO, company websites, etc. You also want to learn about what is taking place in the industry (new models, key trends, thought leadership, etc.). For this I recommend the McKinsey podcast

-You'll want to network. Attend company info sessions and meet consultants. Take their card, and follow up over email. Additionally, reach out to anyone you know in your personal network who may be able to connect for info/advice.

-Be precise about which firms you target. MBB is most selective and might be off the table. But "Tier 2" firms like Oliver Wyman and LEK become more do able. Other firms like Big 4, Accenture MC, solid boutiques, etc. also become a bit easier to break into than MBB

-Craft your story. Come interview day, they'll obviously ask about your background and why you're interested in consulting. String together a great story and it will really start the interview on a high note. Answer this question poorly and the interview is probably over

-Would also advise extensive case interview prep

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Feb 14, 2020

What's the motivation to pursue an MBA?

    • 1
Feb 14, 2020

Are there any non-mba masters that you think could be helpful for someone trying to break into consulting at Accenture? Like Computer Science, Information systems, or data science/analytics?

Feb 17, 2020

Although we recruit most heavily from MBA, I've seen folks break in from one-year MS in Management, MS in Business Analytics, MS Electrical or System Engineering, and MPP programs

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Feb 17, 2020

I'm assuming it would still be a target school you should try to get the non-mba masters from correct?

Funniest
Feb 14, 2020

This is some AMA!

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Feb 14, 2020

Thanks for all the help OP, wicked smaht

Array

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Feb 17, 2020

How does the experienced hire (consultant) recruiting process time frame look like? I submitted my resume through internal referral 7 days ago, but haven't heard back yet. Glassdoor has datapoint from 2 wk - 5m. The team & position I applied for has openings in 7 large cities across the state. Post has been out for a month and the recruiting just renew/ reposted 3 days ago. Any hints? Thanks for holding this session.

extra info: Based on LinkedIn data, not many applications were received but I think that only includes the ones that applied through LinkedIn.

Feb 18, 2020

@hockeylife1036 Thanks so much for the AMA! I have a couple of questions

1) Which offices do the most traditional strategy work? (as opposed to implementation etc.) Is most of the interesting strategy work located in the big offices? (CHI / NYC / SF)

2) What percentage of the work at ACN Strat is traditional strategy versus implementation? What does an analyst have to do to get placed on mostly strategy work?

3) Are there international opportunities avaibale for Strategy analysts?

4) Have you seen any strategy analysts move into other T2 or T1 firms? (ATK, S&, OW, MBB, Parthenon)

5) What are some of the common business schools ACN Strat people get into and when do people usually go to B school after starting as an analyst after undergrad?

6) How long are typical engagements? How likely is it to end up on like 10 month+ engagement in Strategy?

7) There seems to be a lot of people at ACN Strat who stay at the firm and move up? Do you think this is because the exit opps are not great or people just really like what they are doing?

Most Helpful
Feb 19, 2020

1) This does not vary by office. Accenture Strategy is a traditional travel-heavy shop with a regional/national staffing model. In other words, project teams are made up of consultants from different offices. For example, while I'm based on one of the coasts, I've worked in the North East, South East, South West, and West Coast. Where you are based has little to no bearing on the extent to which your projects are strategic. It will, however, impact the industries you may find yourself working in. As you would guess, SF office has a heavy bend towards high-tech and software & platforms, lots of media & entertainment and Retail in LA, lots of FS, Retail, and Pharma, and lots of Resources/Energy work in Houston.

2) In theory, Strategy resources should not be doing any implementation work because our Management Consulting group (which is larger and has folks with more specialized skillsets as opposed to generalist consulting skills) is supposed to be on hand to operationalize the high-level direction or blueprint set by Strategy.

The above is generally a great model that we deliver well to a diverse set of clients. It has been adopted across the industry (look at the way S& partners with PwC Advisory or traditional McK working with McK Implementation). However, the one thing this model does not account for is that consulting is a people business, and people buy consulting services from people. So if a client buys work from Strategy, and the Strategy team does a great job, they're sometimes hesitant to lose that team for follow-on phases. Additionally, they are more than willing to continue paying Strategy rates well after the strategic phase of the project is over. Thus, a Strategy resource can find themselves in a position where clients or even MDs are throwing this model out the window and essentially begging him or her to stay for as long as they can be convinced.

While I don't believe the above paradigm is unique to Accenture, given the amount of implementation work being done by McK, BCG and some of our T2 competitors, it is also completely avoidable. To stay on Strategy projects, jr resources need to advocate for themselves. They need to remind engagement leads why they are not a fit for a project in the context of the above model, and challenge the notion that continuity of resources is necessary for the success of follow-on phases of work (it rarely is. If it was, no one would ever roll off of clients ever)

3) They are rare but not unheard of for Analysts. At the Consultant through SM level, they become much more common, either through cross-border staffing, Accenture Development Programs, or full-blown transfers to international offices.

4) No. I have seen examples of strategy analysts having turned down offers out of undergrad across nearly all of our T2 competitors. Laterals are less common. Unless it is to go to MBB, which is very difficult to do at the analyst level, there is limited benefit to lateraling. You would be forgoing the network you've built at your firm only to lateral and probably find yourself at another T2 doing the same work for the same pay at the same clients.

I've seen laterals at higher levels. Most common is Strategy Managers leaving for MBB, mostly stepping back to join at the post-mba level (e.g. Consultant / Associate)

5) Business school placement is very strong... To the point where I was a bit surprised. While H/S is less common, the firm sends swaths of people each year to Wharton, Sloan, Booth, and Kellog. Also common are schools in the tier right below such as Tuck, Darden, Ross. Many attend with sponsorship via the Strategy Scholars Program.

6) They vary in length, but a 10+ month engagement would be considered very long. While not unheard of, this is a severe outlier. To provide some examples, assessment or dilligence engagements can be quite quick (2-8 weeks), while strategic planning or op model type work can be a bit longer (2-4 months).

7) This is only speculation, but I think a few things are in play here. 1) the point I made above about the cost-benefit of lateraling to a competitor is very real when considering foregone network / starting over. 2) Our work-life balance is solid. We work plenty (usually 50-70 hr weeks) but I don't stay at client sites 'til 2am and I rarely work more than a Sunday afternoon on weekends. Many new parents find this appealing. 3) the work we do is interesting. We regularly win big deals at blue chip clients. Sure we're not defining Apple's 10 year vision or structuring government reforms that shake up economies, but they're not dog shit engagements either. My projects have resulted in headline grabbing developments on more than one occasion. I've met c-suite executives at brands I've known been a fan of since I was a kid. It's not a gimic. 4) we don't send people to PE-type exits, and I think many people fear that going into industry will be boring and slow

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Feb 18, 2020

Hey! I was wondering about the travel opportunities with Strategy? How often are most people travelling and when they are travelling what is it like? Are you put in nice hotels? Are there many team dinners? Do people stay in nice hotels?

Feb 21, 2020

Travel begins w Monday morning flight to client site. Typically 7-8AM takeoff. Due to exorbitant status built from the job, usually or often fly first-class by way of complimentary upgrade. As a rule, sleep the entire flight. Work Sunday as needed (could be 4-8 hours) to ensure that the Monday morning snooze is feasible.

Once I arrive in client city, stop at airline lounge and take a free coffee to go. Meet up with coworkers (coming in from same or other cities), grab rent cars and head to client site. Arrive between 10-11AM.

After working Monday for the day, head to hotel. Typically stay at nice Marriot-owned properties.

In terms of dinners, could be going to a formally scheduled dinner with entire team (once every two weeks), ad-hoc dinner with a few other junior people on the team (happens 1-2 times weekly), or eating individually. If either of the first two, typically expense immediately to the project. If individual, will pay for it myself and then be reimbursed through per diem (meal budget). Either way, food is covered M-Th

When traveling, I pay for all corporate expenses with my personal credit card, and then I get reimbursed. This allows me to keep all of the credit card points that come with having 2k+ per week in corporate expenses. The firm is cool with this.

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Feb 19, 2020

Hey I was wondering if you had any insight into Accenture Federal Services, and how they are seen in comparison to strategy, and exactly how the work they do there is different from what you guys engage in, in Strategy?

Feb 28, 2020

Hey! Thanks so much for all of your help so far. Something I'm having a tough time finding is how comparable T2 (OW, ATK, S&, etc.) pay is to ACN Strat. It seems that T2 pays a lot higher than big 4 and ACN MC, but is ACN Strat really that much higher than MC? Especially as people move up in their career and get closer to Manager / Senior Manager level

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Mar 2, 2020

Post undergrad and post-MBA comp at Accenture Strat will be the same or more than all of the T2 firms you listed above.. This info is publicly available on managementconsulted

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Mar 7, 2020

Thanks for doing this.

I have previously worked at Accenture Technology for about 9 years and left the firm as Associate Manager. I am now working at another consulting firm (think ZS, Huron, Clearview).

I have plenty of contacts at Accenture (both Consulting and Technology) and may want to move back to Accenture (strategy). How common do you think are lateral opportunities at Senior Manager/Associate Director level vs. MD? And, if I get an opportunity to join as Senior Manager, what is the promotion path to MD in terms of no of years and total years of experience?

I guess the avg. promotion time is about 5 -7 years from SM to MD, what are your thoughts?

Mar 23, 2020
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Apr 4, 2020
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