Leaving Accenture: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

by Asif Khan

I often tell my friends that working at Accenture is like going to Management Boot Camp. You learn so much and are constantly challenged to do more than you thought you could do. But the cadence is intense and not sustainable for everyone…especially if you have a family that you like to spend time with.

During my tenure, I developed tremendous confidence managing multimillion dollar projects, cultivating executive relationships, balancing staffing and resource budgets and helping develop our data center transformation practice.

But I started to feel that this extremely time-consuming career choice is not the direction I wanted my career to go. At the heart of it, I’m a technology geek and I wanted to eventually get back to my roots. Then, three things happened in fairly quick succession that convinced me to make that move now, rather than wait any longer: something I read, something my wife said and something my son did.

Sometimes fate makes the decision for you.

1) Something I Read
If I stayed at Accenture, within a few short years I would have either made Managing Director or I would have gone to work for one of my clients in an IT leadership role. But about a year ago, I read a great book called How Will You Measure Your Life by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen (author of the classic book, The Innovator’s Dilemma). Soon after, I read a brilliant essay by Greg McKweon called The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. They completely changed my thinking and reaffirmed my doubts about the career path I was on. Highly recommended reading (see links below). Strike One.

2) Something My Wife Said
I had been managing an especially intensive project recently in New York and was only home for a total of four days that month. At a recent dinner party, a friend asked how we managed our lives with such a hectic work schedule. I casually made the comment, “if your personal life is on auto-pilot, you can make it work.” My wife politely reminded me afterward that our life is definitely NOT on auto-pilot. She has been doing an amazing job of managing things so that I can focus on my job but that it was getting exhausting. That’s not fair to her. Strike Two.

3) Something My Son Did
I came home from one of my trips recently to find the blinds propped up and some toys strewn about by the front door. I asked my wife what happened. She said that our six year old stands by the window for hours each day asking “Is it Friday yet? Maybe Daddy will come home early!” Strike Three. Game over.

I resigned two weeks later.

I am going back to my technology roots, starting a new job at Microsoft’s Incubation Labs. It is the perfect blend of working for both a market leader and a startup. We will be developing sales strategies for emerging cloud computing technologies. My initial focus will be on Azure cloud-based storage solutions. Microsoft’s proposed offerings in this area are impressive!

I will always value the friendships I made at Accenture. And I’m sure that Microsoft wouldn’t have hired me if not for all the great things I learned as a consultant there.

For my regular readers, thank you for building an interactive community here. I enjoyed speaking (and even meeting) with some of you as you pursue a career at Accenture. Keep it up. Accenture is a FANTASTIC place to work! And don’t worry…I still have several “Working at Accenture” posts that I have yet to finish.

And maybe we’ll pick up some new readers along the way as I start a “Working at Microsoft” series. We shall see.

Finally, for my friends that are learning about my major career/life decision for the first time here, I owe you all an apology. As my family will attest, our life has been unbelievably hectic lately.

Let’s catch up soon.

FURTHER READING

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

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12 thoughts on “Leaving Accenture: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

  1. Hi Asif, may I ask what MSFT level you were brought in at? I’m an Accenture SM (5th year… was on the MD list on my 3rd year but had to relocate and am now rebuilding my case, will be on the MD list this coming year to present my case, but a great opp at MSFT came up!). Hope you’ll share the info.

  2. Accenture also provides flexibility at work. Work from home is an option available for certain roles as it is an individual contribution. Yes, there is definitely travel, but again, it is never that bad, that you are never home.
    I will agree with you on your point of being available at home for your wife, children and parents is important for many people in their lives.

    A good career is one where you can have the best of both worlds and be happy.

    Final point is money. How much is enough depends on what we want to sacrifice?
    Again a call that I took 8 years back, deciding to come back to India in full even though it downgraded my onsite position by 2 roles and reduced my income by a lot more. I have never regretted that decision and feel happy for it even now. Being there for a loved one when they really need you, is the absolute need.

    1. Hari, well put. They say success is defined as getting paid (well) to do what you love. A big part of doing what I love is having a life outside work (the mythical work-life balance). Accenture does a pretty good job of that but I wanted more. Whatever makes you happy is the right job for you.

      Are you the same Hari I worked with in Northern Cal? I didn’t know you moved back to India. Congratulations!

  3. Oh wow…..I just made a post asking questions…..either way I know how it is to miss family….good luck….

    1. Bishopzulu, thank you. I will continue to post articles on this site about working at Accenture. I have several topics that I just didn’t have time to write but am still interested in posting. I will also post other content that may be of interest to my current readers and hopefully some new readers along the way 🙂

      Cheers.

      Asif Khan

  4. Godspeed/congrats and kudos, It’s been a hard day’s night; there’s no time for fussing and fighting, and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make, let it be, there has come an answer. let it be.

    NVUJ

  5. Congrats Asif!

    Are you relocating to Microsoft HQ in Redmond, WA? I worked for Microsoft for 9 years and living in Redmond. If yes, let’s meet up for coffee after you settled in:)

    And I can learn few pointers from you on “how to excel at Accenture”. Btw I’m still waiting to hear from my recruiter on the verbal offer. He gave me good news last Monday but hasn’t called me back with the offer yet. He told me last week he has to get approval from partner on the offer. Is this wait normal?

    Thanks and Congrats again!!

    1. Abhi, thank you for the good wishes. I’m not moving to Redmond…at least not for now. I’ll be working in San Diego. Yes, the wait to hear from the Accenture recruiter seems to be typical these days.

      Cheers.

      Asif Khan

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