Accenture Kiss of Death

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Question:

First, I want to thank you for your website. Through your videos, I was able to secure a full-time offer from Accenture for the Management Consultant Development Program in the [U.S. city] office. Accenture is my first choice -- I had a really great interviewing experience with them, and [U.S. city] was exactly where I wanted to be.

After I got the offer, I started researching more about the firm. I used websites like Vault Company Guide, Glassdoor.com, and WallStreetOasis.com. Two of the three had mostly positive things to say. Then I went to WallStreetOasis.com. Almost every single discussion post on Accenture bashes the company. Many people mention the "Accenture Kiss of Death" (I assume this refers to the indirect association with the Enron scandal?).

I was wondering what your opinion on this is? What have you heard from fellow consultants about their experiences at Accenture? What about the "Accenture Kiss of Death" (and how does this even affect me?)?

I was very excited about my offer until I started reading some of these things, and now I am suddenly uncertain and confused. Unfortunately, I don't know many consultants (except those I interviewed with), which is why I am reaching out to you.

My Reply:

Enron's auditors were Arthur Andersen the accounting firm owned by Andersen Worldwide. Accenture, formerly known as Andersen Consulting, was a separate subsidiary of Andersen Worldwide that was NOT implicated in the Enron scandal.

Arthur Andersen the accounting firm for all practical purposes no longer exists in any meaningful form. Accenture continues on to this day and is quite well respected in their areas of focus.

The "Accenture Kiss of Death" seems to come from the perception that if you work for Accenture, it's impossible to work for a Top 3 consulting firm later in your career - McKinsey, Bain, BCG.

The idea is that by working for Accenture, you're somehow tainted for the rest of your career.

In my opinion, I do not think this is true.

Several of my current and past clients are ex-Accenture people -- now running companies. Ex-Accenture people are in executive positions in major companies around the world.

I do think that if one works for Accenture, it is difficult to switch up to MBB without getting a Top 5 MBA first. But this is true for most employers.

I am not familiar with the Accenture management consultant development program. You will want to speak to people who have worked in that specific practice area and ask them what they've been working on the past week or month. That's usually the best indicator of what the actual work will be like.

I'm more familiar with two other practice areas -- the strategic planning services, which seems to do work similar to other Top 10 strategy firms; and the technology services (I forget the exact name), which installs complex computer systems in Fortune 500 companies.

Of the two groups, the strategic planning group's work is more comparable to the work at other strategy firms. The IT services group was more focused on IT work. The reputation of the IT services group is one where they hire a LOT of recent college grads to grind out a lot of IT-related work. I have had friends and former clients go through Accenture, and most were glad to get the Accenture name on their resume early in their career. About half of them burned out from the workload after a few years.

For the Accenture MCDP, you would want to do your own due diligence to see what kind of projects you'll be working on and what your role would be. Both questions are important to get answered. If the client's problem is strategic in nature, that creates opportunities for more interesting work for new consultants. If the client work is more focused on a single functional area (like IT), then the role for the new consultant will be at least a little constrained by the scope of the project.

The scope of your role will never exceed the scope of the client project.

I think the message boards are useful to get a feel for what issues are worth doing more homework around yourself, but I wouldn't take the anonymous points of view presented on those message boards as fact.

Do your own homework. Determine your own conclusion.

This is after all what a good consultant would do... listen to opinions from the client, and gather factual data to determine if those opinions (hypotheses) have any validity.

Consider yourself your own first client, and start getting your own data.

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3 comments… add one
  • manish Feb 15, 2014, 11:58 pm

    Accenture has reputation of just delivering only not the quality, give any project if you spend 1 million dollors it will be done exactly in 1 million dollors may be some more, but when they you realize the output they have given is nither flixible, nor able to be corrected by other company coz its made intentionally complex, bingo you are now trapped be ready to spend more 3 milion for the mess done by accenture.

  • Reid K. Mar 27, 2015, 2:17 pm

    People forget things like Enron rather quickly. This may have been true at some point, but I doubt that anyone is refusing to hire anyone from Accenture because of something that happened a decade ago.

  • Simon Apr 7, 2016, 4:27 am

    I’m a little concerned about the prospect of working for Accenture – It seems there are countless deleted articles – from dead links on main media news sites, but when you go digging around for other sources, it starts to paint a very bad picture (in my opinion).

    I’ve found references to the Scottish Police force, the NHS, various utility companies, and a large number of government or state contracts in the UK or US which have gone awry. This on top of the hasty payout in face of the recent allegations in the US.

    On top of this there appear to be a number of recurring associations both in won contracts and company ties, and stock hierarchies. Spend some time looking around and go through a good few pages of search results!

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