ACCENTURE CHAMPIONS VETERANS AND MILITARY SPOUSES

A Germain

Accenture – a global professional services company with more than 394,000 people worldwide – provides a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations. A Fortune® World’s Most Admired Company for 14 consecutive years, it recently announced that it will open 10 new innovation hubs in key cities in the U.S. and expand its regional network of technology delivery centers by the end of 2020. Additionally, Accenture will invest $1.4 billion in training to ensure its people have leading-edge capabilities to serve its clients, while creating 15,000 highly skilled new jobs in the U.S.

The company has employment opportunities in a wide range of fields, including consulting, technology (such as cyber security and software engineering), and operations (such as supply chain management and logistics).

Accenture knows the dedication and discipline that veterans bring to the workplace, and the company offers rewarding career opportunities, tailored resources to help veterans transition, and a dynamic work environment to continue developing veterans’ skills.

Leadership, discipline, and teamwork are honed during military service and are valued by Accenture. These skills fit right in with the work being done by the company. For example, in consulting roles, veterans offer their advice, expertise, and skills to help clients solve some of their most complex strategy, technology, and operations challenges.

To better recruit highly-qualified veteran employees, Accenture has a dedicated military recruiting team – a group of veterans who conduct a high-touch hiring process for qualified military applicants. The team uses their own military-to-civilian work experience to help servicemembers who are currently transitioning. They also provide support and mentorship services to the veteran community, including individual career planning, resume writing, and interview preparation.

In addition to the recruiting and support functions, the military recruiting team works with dozens of military-focused nonprofit organizations, attends career fairs across the country, and regularly applies analytics to find military candidates with skill sets in geographic locations that correspond with available jobs at Accenture.

A NEW MISSION

Matt Tait is a senior managing director at Accenture Federal Services – a position he has held for more than 18 months – leading the public-sector defense and intelligence portfolio and working with the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and intelligence agencies.

Tait started at Accenture in 1998 as a director for business and operational development for various clients. Since then, he has worked as the director of marketing and business operations, the federal civilian growth and strategy lead, and, prior to his current position, the finance, health, and transportation lead. Throughout his career, he has tried to solve some of the more difficult problems for his clients at the core of their missions – and his efforts have been met with great outcomes. He helped a national railroad corporation disclose their financials in an easier, more streamlined manner and helped enable a government agency to make critical infrastructure improvements, for example.

In addition to his many achievements at Accenture, Tait is a Federal 100 award winner and serves on the board of the Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, whose mission is to provide quality housing and supportive services to homeless veterans. The Federal 100 recognizes government and industry leaders who have played pivotal roles in the federal government IT community.

Before joining Accenture, Tait served ten years in the Navy. He spent nine years on active duty and one year on reserve, separating as a lieutenant commander in 1999. During his service, he was a P-3 Orion aviator and also served as an instructor.

“I advanced in the Navy to become an assistant navigator (ANAV) for one of our carriers,” he said. “In total, I moved seven times in nine years, primarily on the U.S. East and West Coasts – but I did travel globally to South America and Europe, Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, NAS Jacksonville, Sacramento (at Mather Air Force Base), Oakland, and Bremerton Shipyards.”

Tait said that the connections he made in the military have been beneficial long since leaving the Navy. “One of the benefits of being in the military is the network you build throughout your service,” he said. “Just as you look out for each other on the field, that same camaraderie extends to civilian life. In this way, I found my military network to be particularly helpful in starting my career. I must have talked to at least 20 people when it came to the end of my service. I wanted to understand which companies did what, what they were like, and which industries might be a fit for me.
“In fact, a buddy of mine who left the Navy before me connected me with Accenture. Almost 20 years later, and I am still here. You leave the military with a great network behind you. Leverage it.”

There were many things Tait learned in the military which have paid off in the civilian world. “In many ways, the military and professional worlds are strikingly similar,” he said. “In both, you will be making hard, sometimes critical decisions. You will be challenged to solve problems in creative ways.

“In the service you always have problems, but with limited resources to solve them, you have to get creative. The aircraft we flew had a tracking system to monitor everything that was going on around us. It was a vital piece of technology, but it would constantly break down. We couldn’t simply replace the hardware or software – we had no budget to tap, no resources, and no time. So we got inventive, and we used what we had, which was always a mixed bag of parts, to ensure we had a system that would continue to function.”

That type of creative persistence has paid off at Accenture. “Teamwork, strategy, and determination are key ingredients in the mix of what makes people successful at a company like Accenture,” Tait said. “A great example is when we started our work to transform a web platform for one of our clients. Simply put, there was a performance problem. Everyone was saying ‘let’s make it simple and just replace the hardware.’ But things are never that easy. We ended up making a bunch of creative changes to the software, simplifying the technical architecture of the site in a cost-efficient manner.”

Another skill that is valued in the military and in the civilian workplace is the ability to effectively lead. “This is the one skill you really pick up and hone in the military,” Tait said. “And I have learned that you need leadership at all levels, whether it is a petty officer or captain in the Navy, or an analyst or managing director at Accenture. In the Navy, I had 3,000 people working for me at one point, running an aircraft division.

"At Accenture, I also have several thousand people on my team who help us deliver the best for our clients every day. My role requires me to be a leader, and I can say with confidence that my military experience has helped me not only succeed professionally, but it has helped others to reach their fullest potential. Everyone needs to be going in the right direction.”

TRAINING, SUPPORT, AND PROGRAMS

Accenture has created many different programs to hire former and current members of the military. “We have launched a number of initiatives to attract former active-duty personnel and current reservists who possess the experience, skills, or even just the aptitude to be successful in a technology, operations, or consulting career,” Tait said. “For example, the Accenture Veteran Technology Training Program helps veterans become Java programmers. Accenture selects the veterans and awards scholarships to a two-month course provided by Udacity, an online education company that was included in the White House TechHire Initiative. Those who complete the course receive verified certification from Udacity and job interviews with Accenture for entry-level software engineering positions.”

The company also has particular interest in veterans who have advanced their education. “Our other primary military recruiting initiatives include the Accenture Student Veteran Program, a national effort to attract top veterans who are pursuing undergraduate and MBA degrees, and the Accenture Junior Military Officer Program, targeted at current military officers with three to seven years of leadership experience who could be a good fit for industry consulting roles. Additionally, we waive our standard college-degree requirement for some positions where military recruits already have the skills necessary to be job-ready,” said Tait.

WORKFORCE READY

Tait recommends that servicemembers and new veterans look at what they did in the military and put it into civilian terms. “Take the time you need to break it down and really understand what you’ve learned in the military,” he said. “In essence, you need to translate the skills and experiences you have acquired into plain English. This is not easy, I can say so from both a veteran and employer perspective. It is difficult in many instances to understand how military experience will transfer in very impactful ways to a professional environment.”

That may sound daunting to some, but there are resources available to help. “All kinds of organizations, including Accenture, are there to help your job search and transition,” Tait said. “At Accenture, we work with a ton of veteran-focused organizations. For example, we partner with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) to develop and deploy coordinated networks of private, public, and nonprofit resources to offer holistic services that include employment training, housing, healthcare, and expanding existing career services initiatives.

“Additionally, we provide workshops that teach professional skills to veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses across the country. I recently helped facilitate a skills-training session with one of our nonprofit partners supporting military spouses. I talked to them about their resumes, coached them on how to interview and what kinds of questions to be prepared for, taught them how to prepare elevator speeches, and so on. To help identify and access these organizations and programs, leverage your base. Inquiring about local programs and initiatives that are available can help you get your foot in the door and understand the path forward that’s right for you.”

As for landing a job at Accenture, Tait said to walk tall. “Harness the confidence you gained during your service,” he said. “Ensure you understand how to market yourself. Create a resume that clearly outlines your skills and helps your interviewer understand what value you will undoubtedly bring to the organization. And overall, do not be discouraged – there are so many resources you can tap. Just like anything else in the military, once you understand, you will do just fine.”

Tait loves to tell anyone he can about what Accenture has to offer to its employees. “I make it a habit to talk with veterans and offer my advice when I can,” he said. “When I tell them about Accenture, I always say two things. First, we have a fantastic, collaborative culture that fosters personal and professional growth. Second, similar to the service, we focus on the mission and its outcome. There is a ton of alignment to how veterans think and how we think at Accenture.”


FINDING OPPORTUNITY AND SUCCESS

Alpha Germain served in the Air Force as a civil engineer from 2004 to 2008, separating as an E-4. But according to Germain, her story begins a bit later. “After four years on active duty, I transitioned directly into the Air Force Reserve where I became an air transportation specialist. But this was a difficult time, both personally and financially. I had only known military life and I was unsure if I would be able to find a full-time job that would pay the bills.”

In this period, she was also a full-time student and a full-time single parent. “I had to figure out a way to make my school and parenting schedule work,” Germain said. “My career was not steady. I felt that I needed to choose between caring for my child, my career, or my education. I did not think I could do it all.”

When her aunt offered to let Germain and her young daughter, Daliyah, stay with her in Florida, Germain jumped at the chance. “The idea was that I could attend school and find a job in the area, while my aunt would help with child care.”

Unfortunately, after living in Florida for a year, Germain was not able to find work. She moved to the Washington D.C. area for a transportation specialist position at the Baltimore Washington International, AMC Air Terminal.

However, she could still not make ends meet. “I was sleeping on an air mattress in a friend’s living room and Daliyah was still in Florida with my aunt. I commuted over two hours for work every day. I knew I needed to make a change.”

In 2015, during a drill weekend, the base chaplain handed out information for NS2Serves, an organization that provides information technology training and employment assistance, at no cost, to veterans. “I decided it would be strategic to pursue an IT career,” Germain said. “I knew that a job in the IT field would pay enough for me to care for my family, but I needed a bridge to get there.”

She decided to take advantage of the opportunity. “NS2Serves opened the door to my position at Accenture,” Germain said. “The program holds a job fair and at one of these job fair, during which I spoke to an Accenture military veteran recruiter and was quickly moved into the formal interview process. I received a call from Accenture the day of my last exam, two days before graduation, and was extended an offer.”

A NEW START

Germain is now system developer senior analyst with Accenture, a role she has had since January 2016. “I work at Accenture’s San Antonio Tech & Innovation Center,” she said. “I’m part of a team that helps our client, a defense support agency, use specialized procurement software. My job as an analyst is to work with clients to improve program performance and I feel especially rewarded because my role is to help an agency that supports the military.

“There is so much opportunity here,” Germain said. “Accenture understands the value that veterans bring to companies. They understand how our skills translate into job opportunities that enable growth and success. There is also a wonderful community at Accenture. Our national military employee resource group brings veterans together for networking and skill-building opportunity. It is a great feeling to know that there are others who have shared similar experiences.”

But, for Germain, the benefits of working at Accenture reach far beyond job satisfaction. “Most importantly, I now have my daughter back with me. She is in a stable environment and has adjusted, amazingly. She is very happy and has made honor roll since we have been reunited. We are not only living in our own apartment, but I am saving to purchase a home of our own. That was not even a hope, previously.”

Though she believes her story begins after the Air Force, she realizes that her time in the service helped her succeed in her current career. “The military instills in you a sense of pride, commitment, leadership, and loyalty,” Germain said. “Veterans are hard-working and driven. We get the job done, but we are also inventive. You learn to adapt to change and move quickly. At a company like Accenture, where we are always on the cutting-edge of what is new, those characteristics are highly valued.”

Germain also believes that going back to get more education played a big role in her success. “There are many resources available for veterans. Involvement in a skills-building program like NS2Serves gave me the push I needed to get on my own two feet and land a spot in a top company,” she said. “I had no experience with SAP. Now I have two critical certifications, SAP Business Warehouse and SAP HANA. I have a long-term career with a great salary and endless opportunities. Not only that, the N2Serves program helped me gain other new skills and I made amazing friendships with my classmates, some of whom I work with today.”

WORDS OF ADVICE

She encourages servicemembers and veterans to seek the assistance they need. “If you need help, do not be too ashamed or scared to ask for it,” Germain said. “The transition from military service to the professional world can be a scary one. Everyone’s situation is different, but the value you get from seeking assistance will be the same.”

As for how to get hired at Accenture, Germain recommends conducting research on the company. “My top piece of advice is to do your research,” she said. “Before interviewing, take time to understand as much as you can about Accenture – our businesses, clients, people, and core values – but also come with questions. This will help showcase your preparedness, curiosity, and willingness to learn, which are traits that are valued at Accenture.

“Also, be honest about your experience in the military. As a valued candidate, share what you have learned while serving, even if it gets technical. Accenture will work with you to help identify a role that fits your skills.

“Just know that as a veteran, you have more to bring to the table than you may realize…and Accenture can help you see that. Keep an open mind, be persistent, and don’t be afraid to engage.”

Tuesday February 28, 2017

This article appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of Search & Employ Magazine