From Reston, VA — 02/25/2007
This review is for my experience with Accenture Consulting in the US. Was hired into Accenture fresh from my undergraduates. Pay was reasonable given that the employment environment at the time was pretty shi~tty, they have since improved compensation as the economy turned around.
The experience at Accenture is highly dependent on the project role and team. Many of the other reviews on this site already report the worst of what Accenture can offer (i.e. poorly staffed/managed/scoped projects requiring ppl to work weekends with sh~tty workmates). On the other hand, most projects are not so bleak and are quite satisfying intellectually and socially. However it is important to note, those who are satisfied tend not to feel the need to vent so IMHO these reviews are not representative.
Accenture Consulting has a very young workforce with most analyst positions filled by new grads. Even many at the Consultant and Manager level are 20 somethings. Young = fun, with lots of opportunities for happy hours and the like.
Project Format - Every project has a beginning and an end, with a specific objective. There is also a large variation in what you experience from project to project. Great for those like myself who are ADD and cannot stand doing the same thing for too long.
Responsibility Grows Fast - It is not uncommon to find experienced analysts (1 year) supervising 1 or 2 ppl. Consultants (2 years) generally are responsible for supervising a small team. Managers (5 years) might manage an entire engagement or a large part of one.
Travel/Vacation Time/Unstaffed Time - For those who like travel, consulting is the way to go. The flex travel benefit is great because you can opt to fly to a different destination than your home town if you wish on the way back. You accumulate a lot of airline and hotel points which is great for free trips/upgrades. This is a double edged benefit because you are just as likely to end up going to New York for 6 months as you are to Bentonville, Arkansas! Also, Accenture is very generous with vacation time (~24 days / year) but take note, this includes sick and personal days, plus they might "encourage" you to take it when you are unstaffed.
Performance Assessments Suck - Accenture does what is called laddering when they rank everyone on a project against one another and distribute rewards in that order. Generally out of 10, 1 person gets the highest possible rating, 2-3 get an above average, 4-6 get an average, and 1-2 get a poor. This sucks because even in engagements where everyone does a great job, only one gets the big raise, the rest get mediocre ones. Your ranking also has a lot to do with how persuasive your manager is, so you can get totally screwed if you've been working for a dousche all year.
Work Life Sucks - There are stretches when you work 12-14 hrs / per 7 days per week and you feel disenchanted because your i-banker buddy who gets paid 2x your salary gets to go home b4 u. This is generally balanced out by unstaffed time (time between projects when you generally goof off lounge around waiting for work). Accenture also provides overtime in some cases.
Finding Meaning - So when you spend all this time and energy invested in your job, finding meaning is then becomes a big deal. Not all engagements have a happy ending where the client takes the recommendations, executes, and actually realises the value from the consulting work. Political issues can throw a wrench in things, or the client switches priorities, runs out of budget, etc...Sometimes you spend 6 mos of your life at work where all you have to show for it is a powerpoint deck and some pretty charts. For those who become attached to their work and seek to make a difference, this can be a tough one to swallow.
Overall, I’d suggest for those considering to join to look into joining a “service line” such as the strategy group, GBS, CRM, Accenture Marketing Sciences, etc.. These communities tend to be more tightly knit, plus you’ll get a chance to focus in on becoming an expert at a particular specialty. I’ve heard the “operating groups” tend focused on industry but generalized on skillsets so those experiences are more hit or miss.
Hope this helps. Best of luck.