Working at Accenture: “Making Partner”

by Asif Khan
When Accenture first approached me about working here, I was not really interested. One of the main reasons was that I remembered several years ago a friend told me about the “Big Four” consulting firms’ dreaded “up or out” policy where you are stack-ranked each year against your peers: the top-ranked get promoted and the bottom-ranked get fired.
I asked about this policy during my interview process and, though it’s not quite that explicit anymore, Accenture definitely wants you to keep moving forward and not stagnate. But at least there are several career tracks you can select from now: technical, functional or industry expert; sales; administrative; operations; or the traditional “partner” track.
Boot Camp
I have been thinking about this policy ever since I started with Accenture last June and I think I understand it better now and even agree with it, more or less. The way I see it, working at Accenture is like going to management boot camp or getting an MBA.
You are constantly challenged. You are constantly learning. You are regularly placed in impossible situations where you have to think your way out. And all of this happens at a much faster pace than at any job I’ve held in the past. You are given as much responsibility as you think you can handle…and then you will be challenged to take on even more.
To succeed, you have to network like crazy, build alliances, demonstrate loyalty and prove your worth everyday to a) your peers who may work for you someday, b) your executives who will stack-rank you at your annual review and, of course, c) your clients who are paying for your services.
And if you demonstrate that you can excel at this better than most of your peers, you may eventually get rewarded by being promoted to Senior Executive (what they used to refer to as “making Partner”). And if you don’t? Well, eventually you will get voted off the island.
I’m A Widget
Sound harsh? Think of it this way. Accenture is a consulting firm. They don’t sell widgets. They sell the services of highly qualified consultants who have been extensively trained to deliver consistent results. In other words, our consultants are our widgets. Companies that actually sell widgets would quickly go out of business if they sold the same widget model year after year. Customer needs evolve and widget manufacturers have to keep improving their product to keep their customers happy. Consulting is no different.
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5 thoughts on “Working at Accenture: “Making Partner”

  1. Welcome to the club. Small edit but don’t worry, I’ll cut you some slack… ACN Managers and Sr Managers are considered “executives”. That’s why there are such things as “Senior” Executives.

  2. Just curious – what is the remuneration of ‘partners’ at Accenture?
    I hear that you are offered a lumpsome of $300K when you make a partner, true?

    1. Srao, it’s not quite that simple. When you are promoted to Sr Exec (Accenture is a publicly held firm so we don’t have “partners” anymore), you are given a fairly healthy base pay increase and you are offered various types of bonuses and deferred compensation which vary based on your individual performance as well as the performance of the firm as a whole.

      In other words, you have to stay with the firm for a prescribed period of time and perform well (and make sure the firm does well too) in order to reap the most rewards. The last thing the company wants is for you to collect a lump sum of cash upon promotion to Sr Exec and then you leave the firm (maybe go to a competitor?).

      On the other hand, I have a friend who works for Deloitte (a privately held firm that still employs the classic partner model). Upon promotion to partner, you are given a very low interest loan to invest in the business. If you contribute to the overall profitability of the segment of business you invested in, you are rewarded commensurately.

      So to answer your question about how much money you get, obviously, no one really talks about it and the amount can vary greatly depending on your circumstances. But it is a significant amount of money…similar to what a VP would make elsewhere.

      I hope this answers your question.

  3. I have not checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

    1. Jacalynd,

      Thank you for giving me a second chance :-). From my traffic patterns, I realized that I have two distinct types of readers: 1) technical and 2) business. Which is good because both these topics interest me. I guess I can’t please everybody every time :-(. I just wish I had more time to write. Thanks for the note and thanks for reading.

      Cheers.

      Asif Khan

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