Thoughts on Accenture Strategy?

I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on ACN Strategy. I believe that it was formed in late 2013.
Specific questions:

  1. How many consultants work in the Strategy division relative to MC or SI?
  2. I've heard that for strategy projects, ACN Strategy engages with the client first and then it hands off the project to MC or SI for execution phases. Is that understanding correct?
  3. I've heard that ACN Strategy is one of a few groups within ACN that sponsors MBAs. Does anyone know how frequently it does so?
  4. Given that it is still a new division (at least, the name ACN Strategy is), what are your thoughts on the reputation of the brand? Will it be more highly regarded in the next few years because of the growing need for businesses to understand business strategy and IT intersections?
  5. What is ACN's reputation from a strategy standpoint?

What is Accenture?

Accenture is a multi-national, global company that operates across 40 industries. They aim to provide their clients with smart, innovative solutions to their business problems - usually from a technological approach. They have strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations divisions to help them accomplish this.

Wall Street Oasis:
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, It has approximately 236,000 employees serving clients in more than 120 countries. They have experience across all industries and business functions and have done extensive research on the world's most successful companies. Their goal is to work with their clients so that they become high-performance businesses and governments.

You can read more about Accenture on the Wall Street Oasis Company Database.

What Does Accenture Do?

Accenture Strategy has approximately 2,000 employees and has worked with numerous large clients including Nestle and the City of Amsterdam. They research and develop strategic plans for their clients bringing together business, technology, and operations in a way that solve real problems and create opportunity.

Take a look at some of Accenture Strategy's accomplishments.

What Makes Accenture Unique?

Unlike other firms which combine strategy consulting and management consulting, Accenture Strategy has the two completely separated. The two divisions will, at times, hand clients off to each other but not necessarily. Accenture Strategy will do research and create strategy for industry, for example, though not necessarily related to a specific client. At times, the research is industry specific more than client specific.

OpsDude:
I went to an MBA presentation about Accenture strategy. It's a unique model -they separate strategy consulting from management consulting. The strategy guys come in, and then hand it off to the MC team for implementation..so it actually ends up being more of a pure strategy role than firms like Deloitte S&O.

According to WSO member and Accenture Strategy employee, they've worked on some great projects that have put them ahead of the curve in the industry.

peteey:
I've been at Accenture Strategy APAC for the past 1.5 years and things have definitely changed. The strategy practice has been buffed up and there has been a marked change in Accenture Strategy's position in the market...the efforts are paying off. in the past 6 months alone, all 4 of the projects I've been on were won against Mck, BCG, and Deloitte.

I'm of the rationale that this is simply that the same shift we saw towards customer-centricity 10 years ago is going through a second evolution driven by the internet and tech in general. This means that there's hardly any strategy project that doesn't have a 'digital' element to it anymore which bodes well for Accenture Strategy because this is exactly how it has marketed itself - at the intersection of strategy and tech.

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Comments (64)

Sep 17, 2015 - 5:38pm

Last year I had an internship with Accenture strategy, take into account that it was in western/central Europe, not US.

1) In my country Accenture has somewhat near 9000 people, so it is quite big of a company here, in strategy we were around 200 people, and I think the ratio with MC is around 1:4

2) Mostly Accenture strategy does sell cheap projects to try to engage clients to sell implementation/sourcing projects, so yes, you are right.

3) In my country do not sponsor MBAs, and know no one at Accenture who has one (probably there are someone) even if you are a star analyst, and in the case you were (in my opinion you would not be at Accenture), the career path is somewhat slow compared to other firms, here is 4 years as analyst to promote to consultant.

4) Their reputation is significantly low, I'm currently at a top strategy house and they did not even care the least about my internship, I think the strategy brand is well regarded just INSIDE Accenture.

The recruitment process I had was a group interview and a really really easy case, close to the level 1 cases in the "case in point" from Consentino, the recruitment process was the same to that for FT. The problem I see is that is very easy to get in (in my country at least) and most firms know that, so if you try to lateral to a top strategy house, it's not going to be of much help.

5) They don't do much of a strategy work, so I think is pretty low, and as I stated in the previous point, to lateral is really difficult. If you want to exit to industry the perspectives are difficult as well as you are to compete with people at McK, BCG, Bain, S&, Monitor, ATK, OW, etc...

Most of the people I knew there were just OK people, there was one that was really bright ant now is at McK, I'm not saying that ACN strategy is crap, but it was built in-house to do other work than that of top strategy houses do, they pretty much were created to engage the client to sell eventually implementation/outsourcing expensive projects (really long projects)

I'm always talking from the point I know, and what I lived, I do not know if it can be extrapolated to US

Sep 17, 2015 - 7:44am

No, it can be extrapolated to the US pretty easily. The only point that may change slightly is the MBA sponsorship since it is so common here in the US, but from my friends at ACN strategy it is a much smaller reimbursement package than offered at MBB.

Oct 8, 2015 - 3:28am

Ex-ACN here. This is spot on. Very little strategy work. If there aren't many strategy projects, they'll have you work on implementations, etc.. so your billing rate doesn't drop.

Sep 17, 2015 - 6:04pm

In terms of the work you do, the others are spot on - ACN Strategy isn't really "Strategy" in the classic sense but rather strategic penetration of a company to get the MC/Tech guys in for lower margin but higher reliability work (ACN's bread and butter). Put another way, your strategically working for Accenture, not your client. For example, instead of doing a market entry or product development project involving high level corporate strategy and that will benefit the client only, you're more likely to do a tech roadmap or internal operational assessment that may be a point of leverage to get the tech/SI teams in.

This knowledge is a couple of years old but I would venture to guess it's still relevant; unlike the Big Four who are trying to build out pure strategy practices to compete with MBB/elite boutiques (albeit with a slightly different value prop), ACN seems to continue to leverage its dominance in the tech/SI world. Like others have said, exit ops won't be near what you'd get at MBB or a pure strategy house.

Hee hee "strategic penetration..."

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  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Sep 21, 2015 - 10:48pm

This is not accurate at all (at least for US and major markets in Europe). The goal of Accenture Strategy (AS) is first and foremost to do real strategy work, regardless if that work leads to more work for Accenture's implementation and technology groups down the line. In terms of the types of projects, I've seen the full spectrum, from growth strategy to operating model redesign, and our main competitors for projects are typically McKinsey and Deloitte.

--

  1. How many consultants work in the Strategy division relative to MC or SI?

AS is ~6000 globally, compared to ~15000 for MC. SI is massive (I know it's at least double MC).

  1. I've heard that for strategy projects, ACN Strategy engages with the client first and then it hands off the project to MC or SI for execution phases. Is that understanding correct?

Depends. AS is brought in only if there is a strategy piece. If it's a pure implementation project, and there are def. a lot of pure implementation projects at Accenture, AS is not involved. Not all AS recommendations are carried out by MC/SI and the client has absolutely no obligation to do so.

  1. I've heard that ACN Strategy is one of a few groups within ACN that sponsors MBAs. Does anyone know how frequently it does so? (Example: if the Strategy group brings in 100 new analysts this year, how many could theoretically be sponsored 2-4 years down the road?)

If you're a top performer (roughly top 30-40%) who gets into a top MBA program, you will have a very chance of being sponsored. Also, to give you context, almost all of the students sponsored this year went to top 10 US MBA programs (including Stanford and Wharton) or Insead (which AS has a unique partnership with).

  1. Given that it is still a new division (at least, the name ACN Strategy is), what are your thoughts on the reputation of the brand? Will it be more highly regarded in the next few years because of the growing need for businesses to understand business strategy and IT intersections?

Strategy within Accenture isn't new. There has always been a decent sized group (few thousand), but it now has a differentiated brand.

Accenture knows it doesn't have the strongest reputation in strategy consulting and so has recently bulked up their strategy leadership with McKinsey partners. The head of Accenture Strategy is an ex-McKinsey partner, the head of the US Strategy practice is also an ex-McKinsey partner, and numerous recent leads are ex-McKinsey. They have instituted several major changes, including accelerating promotion timelines for top performers, changing the performance process completely, and increasing funding for MBA fellowships.

Also, while it is true that we are cheaper than MBB and Deloitte S&O, our average rate has been increasing every quarter as we differentiate more and more from the rest of Accenture. I think AS is where Deloitte S&O was 5 years ago (look at posts on this forum about Deloitte 5 years ago), and I believe we will have very good strategy brand in the next few years or so. Thoug, I do not think AS will ever be on par with MBB, but it will form the next rung with Deloitte Monitor and PwC Strategy&.

In regards to people, for undergrad, we only recruit from the top 20 or so schools (list can be seen on Accenture's career site) and for MBA, top 15. Note that this is not the same set even for Accenture's Management Consulting group.

  1. What is ACN's reputation from a strategy standpoint?

Based on the ranking of other consultants, our strategy reputation is solid as we are ranked a Top 5 strategy consulting firm based on actual consultants' responses (visit Vault's Strategy Consulting rankings).


I think this forum has a lot of good stuff, but there is an awful lot of inaccurate information based on hearsay. Accenture def. has its set of shitty aspects, as does AS, but its not at all accurate to say that they don't do real strategy work or do work with the primary goal of selling IT. Hope this clears up a few things.

Sep 28, 2015 - 12:37pm

overall very accurate write up, I can second all of your points from friends who work there and personal experiences with the firm. People on this tend to flame ACN way too much when in reality it's a great place and offers a lot of really good opportunities.

Nov 18, 2017 - 11:15am

I'll second a lot of what is here. I don't agree that Accenture will be on par with the major tier 2 firms in terms of general strategy, but they outperform in their niche. They have definitely had some big partner acquisitions from better firms; this tends to lead to improvements in work as those partners retain some of their old clients.

It's important to note that a lot of the changes in Accenture have occurred in the past few years; many of the criticisms in this thread are aligned with things I'd heard about Accenture prior to that time frame.

Sep 29, 2015 - 1:07am

I''m a former Accenture Strategy employee who joined MBB post MBA. I concur with the write-up and agree that Accenture gets crapped on a lot on this forum. I'm not sure why everyone is able to differentiate Deloitte Advisory and Audit from S&O but unwilling to do so when it comes to Accenture Technology vs. Management Consulting vs. Strategy. Is Accenture Strategy on par with MBB in terms of prestige and pure strategy work? No, it's not but neither is Deloitte S&O. But that doesn't mean I didn't work on a lot of cool and interesting projects with a ton of extremely high caliber people who left for and came from top b-schools. So fine, Accenture is not MBB and I don't know that it claims to be but based on my experience - it is not that different than Deloitte S&O, despite what WSO believes.

Sep 29, 2015 - 1:35pm

There's a lot of good advice on this thread that I agree with. Distilled:

  1. Accenture DOES indeed to shit on too much on this forum, so do the non-Deloitte Big Four for that matter. It's not MBB but it's still a good shop.

  2. Speaking of Deloitte, I think Deloitte S&O is the most overrated group on this forum. The prevailing notion of "MBB > Deloitte S&O (just a little bit) >>>>>>> EVERYONE ELSE" is just silly and is being self-perpetuated by posters here. My 2 cents, but between Deloitte S&O, OW, E&Y-Parthenon, Strategy&, ATK, or Accenture Strategy for that matter.... they are all solid places to work. Don't get so caught up in rankings and aim more for what is a better fit for the industries and cultures you want to work in (although I would say the middle-market is becoming a dangerous play....). And remember, you can probably lateral between any of those firms at some point in your career if you make the most of your situation... I've seen it before (although some of those shops are harder than others). That said, I don't think there are many junior staffers at those firms that would turn down a MBB offer....

  3. That one post really did sound like Accenture's PR team :)

Nov 18, 2017 - 11:19am

....I was under the impression that Deloitte no long hires full time? They only extend offers to their interns? It's been ~2-3 years I believe since they last hired full time from MBA.

Deloitte's true competitive advantage is paying second year's tuition for their MBA hires. This is honestly the number one prevailing reason why they win almost every cross offer. A lot of those students are then surprised to learn that their full time comp might not be on par with some of the other firms they wrote off. Regardless, for 2-3 years and out consultants, the second year tuition makes it a no-brainer unless you have clear aspirations that don't align with Deloitte (i.e. PE DD vs Parthenon, FS vs OW, etc). Take away that incentive and the firms are much closer in candidates minds. It's a great firm, I'm not bashing S&O at all and I think they've done a great job with the integration of Monitor, but people overlook the impact of a $65k handout in these discussions.

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Oct 7, 2015 - 2:59pm

European Acn Strategy employee here.. AS was around since years, but only recently there is a strong push to promote Strategy (as well as Digital) as they did another re-org followed by rebranding of divisions.
So what is AS? Yoh tell me, they label everything Strategy, including Capability Netwotk which is internal CoE doing purely operational consulting and IT, and at the same time they talk about competing with McK, BCG..
It's like one day Ford has decided to compete with Bentley just because one of their model s priced at 100k$, you get the picture?
No mba financing in Europe by Acn, as opposed to real strategy competitors.. .
Rgds
Luk

Oct 9, 2015 - 10:35am

I'm in AS in US. Our performance rankings are tied to how much strategy work we do, so you are definitely expected to do only strategy work--this was stressed in our last town hall. In the US at least, you also have MBA sponsorship, strong up and out culture, and there is definitely a lot of interesting strategy projects. I've seen a bit of everything, but the bulk of the work that I've seen are in zero-based budgeting, digital and technology strategy, operating model strategy, and growth strategy.

Regarding MBBD, I think Deloitte S&O has done a great job building its business and reputation, but it's certainly not at the same tier as MBB. @opsdude1" I bet that most people who intern at Deloitte S&O also try for MBB full-time, right? How many BCG interns try for McKinsey, Bain, or Deloitte full-time? Yep, I thought so.

Oct 9, 2015 - 9:04pm

I'm sure that has a lot to do with MBA re-imbursement for returning interns. Everyone I knew who interned with Deloitte (or any firm non-MBB) undergrad aimed to get MBB, so that's certainly not the case at the analyst level (where there is no additional compensation incentive).

Also, where are you getting these numbers? Simply looking at interns who rejoined is not sufficient to say they didn't recruit anywhere else.

I definitely disagree with you about the difference point. There is a marginal difference among any of the MBB while there is a much more significant difference between Bain and Deloitte. There's a ton of reasons for this, but I guess the easiest quantifiable measure might be to use Vault's prestige score (http://www.vault.com/company-rankings/consulting/best-consulting-firms-…). The difference between McK and Bain is .5 and the difference between Bain and Deloitte is roughly 1.5. And yes, I know that this is Deloitte Consulting overall and not Deloitte S&O. Anecdotally, I have personally never meant someone with an MBB offer and Deloitte and choose Deloitte--I'm sure there are some, but that's rare.

I don't want to come across as I hate Deloitte or anything--I have a lot of good buddies that work there and most like it--but MBB is such because of how marginally different they are. Deloitte has definitely come closer to them, but their not there, yet.

Oct 12, 2015 - 7:22pm

I think your figures may be screwed. Potentially 3 out of 19 Deloitte interns did not return but that is not to say that more tried to re-recruit other places like MBB and could not find a better offer and therefore returned to Deloitte given they have almost a month to accept the return offer they received after their internship ended.

Best Response
Nov 17, 2017 - 8:53pm

about time this question got an update 2 years later... i've been at acn strat APAC for the past 1.5 years (experienced hire) and things have definitely changed. the strategy practice has been buffed up and there has been a marked change in acn strat's position in the market. personally, i think they have gone a bit nuts with the hiring - our strat practice head knickrehm is a former Mck senior partner and almost all the new MD's and SM's in my office are ex-Mck and BCG. but the efforts are paying off. in the past 6 months alone, all 4 of the projects i've been on were won against Mck, BCG, and Deloitte (Bain isn't even in the game anymore - everyone in the industry knows they won't exist in the next 5-10 yrs).

imo the rationale for this is simply that the same shift we saw towards customer-centricity 10 years ago is going through a second evolution driven by the internet and tech in general. this means that there's hardly any strategy project that doesn't have a 'digital' element to it anymore. which bodes well for acn strat because this is exactly how it has marketed itself - at the intersection of strategy and tech. it's for this same reason that we see mck and bcg desperately trying to scramble together a digital arm as part of their overall strategy branding. also explains why bain can't compete anymore because it's too poor to invest in digital capabilities

Nov 17, 2017 - 10:20pm

Bainbridge has increased their Business Development and Capital Markets division hiring in the SoCal/local markets. They are not able to attain top talent, so this makes it highly difficult for them to get business.

I did an interview with them awhile ago, but nothing solid.

Nov 19, 2017 - 4:22am

sure. my experience has largely been APAC-specific so let me caveat that upfront. i have been on 10 projects since 2016 (mostly in CMT and financial services) and worked on a ton of other proposals. out of all the proposal stages i have gone through, bain was shortlisted to just one of the oral presentation final rounds (they lost). most of the time, mck, BCG, and acn strat are the ones to make it to the end with Deloitte appearing occasionally.

bain has been emasculated time and time again and, from what i have seen, resort to doing cheap due diligence projects that no one else wants to do. DD all day till their eyeballs drop out. when it's not DD, the only way they win is to sell projects dirt cheap. i remember this retail project they priced so low, the rest of us were wondering how the hell they were going to make money off of it. turns out, they staffed three interns on one consultant. we had a good laugh

imo they fail to get the projects that count partly due to the lack of any unique value prop over the other consultancies and then there's the culture: there's something vapid about their practice. basically everyone in bain&co just wants to get to Bain Capital. which means that all the senior staff at bain&co know they didn't make the cut to bain capital and walk around with a chip on their shoulder hating their jobs. the junior staff know this and get discontented quickly, coalescing this toxic vapid environment.

anyway, what this all results in is them being barely profitable. they are a private firm so who cares for now - but long-term? nada

Jan 14, 2020 - 11:40am

I have an offer for Accenture Strategy (Tech strategy consultant) in Dallas. Any advice on travel/regional model? That will be the biggest sticking point for me. If it is truly m-thr every single week with no option to be local, it will be tough for me.

Jan 15, 2020 - 8:14pm

Hi! I wanted to ask what Accenture Strategy's reputation is now and how you think it'll be in a couple years time? Compared to both MBB and other reputed consultancies

  • Consultant in Consulting
Nov 18, 2020 - 1:15pm

In my opinion ACS is more or less done. It does still exist with a seperate organizational unit and some good people but it is more and more integrated with consulting. It is basically impossible to determine who works for which unit from the outside because all of the consulting people have adapted to the strategy & consulting name.  While it does make a lot of sense for the firm, I believe it is quite a hard pill to swallow for the people who thought they would be joining "the new kid on the block" in strategy consulting. 

Any other thoughs/insights?

  • Analyst 2 in Consulting
Nov 18, 2020 - 1:37pm

I agree. They've diluted the entire brand and it seems like people who are not in the true Strategy group will do whatever they can to appear as though they are. These lower caliber candidates will take down the rest of the organization, and it'll be unclear who is in which division. 

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