Marking my 2 years in Accenture, I’d like to share what I have learned so far in my career in Accenture. I started off as a Management Consultant in Indonesia’s Finance & Enterprise Value practice. Then I moved to the Indonesia’s Resources industry-focused practice, and now I’m in Malaysia’s Resources CFO & Enterprise Value practice.

So far, I’m delighted to say that although I’ve seen and heard horrible experiences of people working in Accenture, those did not happen to me. On the contrary, Accenture Indonesia has been a place where I see less politics than what other Indonesian companies currently experience, and the leaders are committed in ensuring employees’ growth.  Furthermore, diversity and Inclusion efforts are no joke. In Indonesia, we focused on women empowerment, mental health, and pride ally program.

So far I’ve been involved in 5 projects across multiple sectors and topics. But across the projects and throughout the 2 years, there are a few things that always holds true

Key things that I learned

Reputation is everything

You should try to network with as many people as possible and build relationships outside your work group. If your project team are the only people who you know and knows you, then you’ll be in trouble.

But frankly speaking, with the amount of people in the organization, it’s impossible for you to know everyone. Thus, your reputation becomes key. Your reputation needs to be good enough that people who never met you absolutely want to work with you because you’re known as being great at what you do. Sometimes this means that you need to tote your own horn, telling people what you did and what the impact was.

Not conveying what you want = never getting it

Everyone’s busy to fend for themselves and have no time to sit down and think specifically about what’s best for you. You need to do it yourself. Think about what do you want, make active steps to pursue that, and tell your leaders.

The worst part of some companies’ culture in Indonesia that I’ve seen is protectionism. Instead of letting employees’ try out things, or move to another organization, bosses try to cage their best employee in their own division, and doing only what they’re good at. This might be good for the boss, as they’ll need to spend less effort growing people, but this is a recipe for stagnation for the employee. It would also potentially lead to the departure of the best employees. You need to make active effort to break away from this chain, even if you have to move to other company, or find a role for yourself in other parts of the company. Totally easier said than done, but I promise that if you manage to do it, the rewards are bountiful.

Cross cultural collaboration is challenging

I didn’t realize this much when I did projects only in Indonesia, but when I started doing projects with other nationalities, communication challenges become apparent. Then it’s a matter of resolving the miscommunication peacefully, and not holding grudge.

Primary difference that will cause a challenge is typically Direct VS Indirect speech. People from cultures that speak in a more direct manner will feel that people who speaks indirectly are wishy-washy or unclear. While people from cultures that speak in indirect manner will feel that people who speaks directly are impolite or brash. This can only be mitigated by both sides realizing the culture of the other, and tries to meet in the middle, without judging the others.

Number one: Your boss. Number two: Your direct coworker circle

What impacts my happiness at work the most are these 2 things, in this order. I’ve been blessed with great direct managers in my time in Accenture, and I now understand what kind of qualities I look for in a leader. I think what I’m looking for is likely extremely similar with what you would want. I’d look for:

  1. A leader that often gives feedback
  2. A leader that can take feedback and change
  3. A leader that can help you get a healthy balance of what do you want, and what is best for the business
  4. A leader that is outspoken

Second thing that’ll impact your happiness at work is the quality and personality of the people you directly work with. I’ve met some of the most resilient and client value-oriented people I know during my time here. And I’m proud to have worked alongside them.

That’s it

Those are the key things that I’ve learned, I hope some of the things I mentioned resonate with you, and if you have any feedback or if you just want to chat, you can contact me in any of my social media profiles that you can go to from the links at the top right of the page.

The hardest part of New Year Resolutions is actually reviewing them and seeing how I fared. You can find my 2018 New Year Resolutions here.

2018 New Year Resolution Achievement

For the first one, 2018 is the year where I’m more honest with myself and I opened up to more people than the past 10 years combined. In addition, I became more vocal about causes that I care about, and I stopped caring too much about what other people thinks.

The second one is easy to review due to the quantitative nature, in 2018 I read:

  • 6 CFA Level 3 books – Slightly cheating, but these still counted as books!
  • 12 Monocle magazines
  • 6 HBR magazines
  • Dear Founder
  • The Happiness Project
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
  • Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality
  • Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI
  • The Corruption of Capitalism
  • Nonviolent Communication

From my reading last year, unfortunately there’s none that resonated with me as much as Carol Dweck’s Mindset and Clayton Christensen’s Competing Against Luck. But as election is coming for Indonesia in 2019 and for the US in 2020, I feel that Truth by Hector Macdonald is a worthy read.

I totally bombed the 3rd one. I was doing fine until the middle of the year, but I flaked from July onwards. This is a good lesson regarding continuity and I hope to be more consistent this year.

The fourth one I think I’m doing just fine. And for the last one, I became a CFA charterholder in September 2018 and I took the GMAT test, so I followed through on the goals I had! Additionally, I also studied Python for Finance: Investment Fundamentals & Data Analytics and Python for Financial Analysis and Algorithmic Trading from Udemy.

Overall, although there are room for improvement, I’m happy with what I achieved. 2018 has been a precious year of personal growth where I refocused and learned more about myself. I have great hopes for 2019 and I will share a more concrete set of goals soon.

Within the past 3 months, I have been working with Accenture’s Innovation Hub in Singapore to focus on developing new demo asset business case, and facilitate client workshops. The Innovation Hub is a physical space where we host client workshops, and showcase demos on how Digital can transform businesses. But keep in mind, that we are not R&D focused. We’re focused on building a business case that caters to business needs. You won’t find a technology that’s just ‘cool’ in our hub. You’ll see stuff that has business value first and foremost.

Last week, I had the great chance to deliver a demo and presentation to our Accenture’s Africa & Asia Pacific leadership on how the connected worker looks like in the near future, empowering industrial employees to be safer and more productive. Although the technology have been introduced since quite a while back, we’re just entering the phase of mass adoption and scalability.

The technology that I showcase in this occasion are a combination of smartglasses by Vuzix, IoT sensors installed in an asset, and tablet. Basically, this is showcasing how workers will communicate with command centers and supervisors in the future, and how industrial facilities can be monitored and controlled remotely. If you want to see it and interested in exploring how you can start on a Connected Worker initiative in your company, connect with me and maybe we can arrange a visit for your company!

In this post, I want to cover 3 key things you need to analyze to justify the investment of connected worker initiative.

First, how much value will come from a safety perspective? The US spends nearly 60 billion USD due to injuries in the workplace, making it a good idea to invest to lower even just 10% of that amount.

Second, you need to forecast the ROI from the added productivity. We can look at this from savings in replacing in-person inspections with remote inspections, first time fix rate, total time to resolution, and remote training. (Read more here)

And third, an analysis on how using digital impacts employee engagement is also necessary. Gallup showed that highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. (Read more here).

Quantifying all these benefits will help you build the business case to invest in the connected worker. Of course the numbers presented might not apply to you, so due diligence becomes important.

Lastly, you can read more on the thought leadership piece from a few consulting firms on Connected Worker:

This post is a reflection and thoughts on diversity and inclusion. Something that you will definitely find as a value in any multinational companies across all sectors! From Microsoft, Accenture, McKinsey, Amazon, etc, all of them are making commitment in being inclusive, and they have dedicated teams and employee volunteers to support the effort. In Accenture, we have the I&D Team, we have Pride Allies, Women Mentoring Program, mental wellness, disability, etc. There are efforts to be inclusive all over the organization. It’s amazing when I can hear on a day-to-day basis that someone is coming a bit late/going back a bit early to drop off/pick up their kid, and there’s no one that comments “wow, he/she is using that kind of excuse not to work!”. Personally, I’m currently part of the pride ally network, while continuously looking for other ways to be involved in the I&D initiatives.

There are also widely available resources on why it can bring value to the organization. UBS proved that LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace can boost a firm’s financial performance and gain a competitive advantage over peers. McKinsey released a report that reinforced the persistence of relationship between diversity & business performance. CloverPop showed that being more inclusive in your decision making can make better business decisions faster. In 2017, Deloitte shared that 69% of executives put priority on diversity & inclusion.

If we want diversity & inclusion effort to actually be meaningful, we require participation from everyone. An inclusive culture doesn’t happen because the CEO says we have to be inclusive, or because Wall Street says that they want the company to be inclusive so the stock price goes up! An inclusive culture happens because the employees and the leaders are consciously making effort to be inclusive!

That brings me to the first question:

What does diversity & inclusion means for you?

I love a mantra I heard when I was in Microsoft.

Come as you are, do what you love

Now, whether it actually happened on the ground was another matter altogether. But the mantra itself is solid and reflects what diversity & inclusion means for me. Being inclusive means supporting an environment that allows you, me, and everyone else to be authentic. Being authentic means acting in ways that genuinely shows how we feel, without the concern of negative implications, without the need to tailor personalities to be accepted.

I used to hear people give a “be authentic” advice. But then when I’m authentic and straightforward, they get mad! Talk about confusing. (Honestly, this is similar to when your boss says “I’m open to feedback and have an open door policy. Please do share all your concerns with me”). Oftentimes, I think a “be authentic” advice means “be more expressive in sharing what I want you to tell me”, and isn’t that frustrating?

And when I mention inclusion, I really do mean everyone. No discrimination based on gender, age, marriage status, country, orientation, religion, whatever. An idea or contribution doesn’t have any less value if it came from people you don’t like!

Then the next question,

Are you actually inclusive?

Repeatedly saying “we need to be inclusive” is not enough. It needs to be backed up by actions from each and every one of us.

Reflect on yourself:

  • Do you assume that people who work differently / less hours are less committed to their work?
  • In meetings, are you disregarding opinions/views/suggestions from certain people?
  • In meetings, do you talk over some people a lot? (E.g: cutting off the more junior employees or women)
  • Is your team made up of similar profiles? (E.g: similar race, religious views, gender, etc)
  • Are you making jokes/comments at the expense of certain group of people? (E.g: “Don’t be such a girl”)
  • Are you expecting your team to work late because you also work late?

Honestly, if you answer yes to any of those questions, I’d say that you have some work to do and dig deep on why you do it. Of course those questions are not exhaustive, but it gives you a start!

Personally I’m still not perfect, and that’s why I love getting feedback on how people feel when they interact with me. I’m fine with being called straightforward (to the point some can be surprised), but what I’m watching out is if someone feels bullied/discriminated because of what I did. Without the people that gave me feedback, I wouldn’t have realized my own shortcomings! Like they say, it’s easy to find fault at others, but it’s hard to find your own fault.

To close, this is a great resource from Catalyst on how you can be inclusive everyday

inclusive

#InclusionStartsWithI

In this final part of the narrative, I will focus on the external factor, the supporting media in which you communicate with. The media formats that we typically use includes:

  • Paper to write on
  • Handouts (slides, graphs, data, etc)
  • Slide decks

The general value of supporting media is to reinforce/clarify the message you want your audience to get. To review whether you should use the media or not, ask yourselves:

  • Is my media distracting my audience’s attention away from me? – Don’t let your media be the main actor.
  • Can the media help me illustrate my point? – Don’t use media for the sake of using it. Have a clear goal on why you’re using it.

And don’t forget to also review what kind of media can be used in the venue of the presentation/discussion. For example, you won’t use a slide deck with videos for a discussion at Starbucks due to the noise around the area and lack of space to project.

Unless your goal is for that media to stand on its own, there’s no reason for you to have word-for-word explanations inside the media.

Paper & Handouts

Imagine if you’re illustrating an idea to your boss over coffee with a paper. You will not write everything you’re saying, but you will definitely write your calculations, graphs, keywords, design ideas, maybe flowcharts.

Handouts should also do the same thing. If your handouts includes research reports / long essays, you might as well give it to your counterparty beforehand and ask them to read it first. If you give it to them during your time with them, there’s a good chance they’ll just read it there and then. It’s a waste of time that could’ve been used to discuss the matter together.

The acceptable form of handouts should be graphs, charts, or tables that’s not chock full of writing.

Slide Decks

The same logic can also be applied to slide decks. On my first project with Accenture, the slide deck that we used was full of words and was intended to be able to stand on its’ own. Word-for-word quote from the client:

You are competing for my attention with your own slide deck.

This is the same thing that goes through my mind if I see a slide with 1,000 words in it, written like an essay. I don’t have enough mental capacity to both read and listen. So rather than focusing on the presenter, I focus on reading the slide.

You can see a lot of these slide deck issues in the Death by Powerpoint slideshare by Alexei Kapterev.

Some general guidelines that I use to develop a deck:

  • It has to be aesthetically pleasing, no compromises – if you can use image/graph/chart to illustrate, then do so. Don’t depend on written format. A slide just of 1 image in the background and 1 sentence in the foreground is much stronger than a slide of 4 bullet points with white background
  • 1 slide should have no more than 3 images (not counting logos or icons). If you mention company names, consider whether it makes sense to include their logo inside the slide
  • Use the highest possible resolution that you have for images, and use transparent background for logos
  • Maximum 4 sentences (or 50 words) in a slide
  • The presentation should finish within 20 minutes. To extend your audience’s attention span, consider this article from Forbes.
  • Only 1 point to be made per slide
  • Colours that are not too in your face, with contrasting colours between fonts and background/images
  • Have at maximum 3 key takeaways and reiterate it at the end of the presentation. Your audience is unlikely to remember anything else.
  • Practice delivering the presentation and time it before actually presenting it for real. Don’t be overconfident.

A sample of presentation that I made : 2016 Fintech Presentation

Takeways

These are what I hope you get from this series of writing:

  1. There are multiple factors that makes a great communicator/presenter, focusing on one and neglecting the others are not enough:
    1. Your story needs to be concise, clear, compelling, and convincing
    2. Be mindful of the meaning that can be inferred from your body language
    3. Your media must be the supporting character in your communication, not the main actor
  2. Practice is key and repetition helps you be better

The next part of the installment is your body language. Body language can convey just as much, or might be even more telling than your spoken message. Easy example, imagine someone who is saying to the audience, “I’m not nervous to stand before all of you here”, but his legs are stiff as board, his fingers fidgeting, his gaze looks upwards, and he’s sweating profusely. Yeah, fat chance you’re gonna believe he’s not nervous.

Fact is, a lot of these body languages are hard to control. That’s because the way your body and face reacts are mostly based on reflex. You can train yourself so you can control it better, but I won’t delve too much into it at this post as I myself is still practicing it in every instance I can.

This post will focus on the 4 big components of body (I’ll include face) language that’ll impact your message. This is NOT rocket science, and you should already be familiar with the concepts here, this just reiterates where you need to focus on.

Appearance

First and foremost, are your appearance consistent with your message? Say you’re trying to convey a message that you are young and hip like your target demographic, don’t go on stage/on camera wearing suits you can wear to funerals! That contradicts your message!

Appearance extends not only to the clothes that you wear, but includes your hair, such as whether you wear pomade/wax, whether it’s long or short, whether it’s messy or neat, your shave (mostly for the guys, this relates to how much beard/moustache you sport), your glasses and other accessories (shoes, belt, jewellery, watches, etc).

Try to think about what enhances your message, what kind of person will make the best impact in delivering that message, and tailor your appearance to it.

Posture & body movement

Then assume you have perfect clothes and stuff, now you need to be careful with what you do with your body during the interaction! For example, you are saying to your partner, “What you are saying is interesting to me! Please continue!”, but you bend your body backwards, cross your arms, look at the clock every few minutes. I’d be surprised if your partner doesn’t get mad. Your words say that you’re interested, but your body says that you’re out of the conversation.

Simple guidelines for this part should suffice:

  • Conversational purposes:
    • Crossing arms, eyes wandering around, and body bending backwards in a conversation signals disinterest
    • Looking at the clock signals that the person needs to go soon. Please do ask whether they need to go or not.
    • Lowering your head signals humility or shame
    • No eye contact signals no confidence. Excessive eye contact might signal lies though, so be careful.
    • Shrinking your body signals no confidence
    • Putting your hands on the table signals confidence (Please don’t put your feet on the table in an effort to be doubly confident)
  • Stage purposes
    • Occasional walking around the stage and hand gestures signals confidence. Too much of it signals nervousness
    • Open arms signals confidence and openness to audience
    • Eye contact with audience, switching people to lock eye contact with regularly signals confidence and truthfulness
    • Lowering your head signals humility or shame
    • Having your hands inside your pockets signals that you have something to hide or you are going to show something

This list is not exhaustive, but should be sufficient for a headstart.

Tone

This is simply the tone you use to deliver your message. Remember, the key is being consistent with your message. Typically your tone should match your message. If you’re angry, a high tone is appropriate. Or if you’re responding to an angry customer outburst and you should cheerful, that will just irk the customer more as they don’t feel you understand what they’re going through.

Be mindful of the tone that you use in your conversations and occasionally ask your good friends how do you come off as during your conversation.

Rather than thinking too much about this, exercise more, be mindful and stop during conversations to think about the tone that you’re using. Be personable, and often times this will come to you naturally.

One suggestion is to stop the “professional” tone, it makes you feel boring and impersonal. Have a variety of tones during the conversation/speech. Imagine if you’re listening a speech with a flat tone, no rise nor fall in between, you’ll get bored within 5 minutes, I guarantee you. But please don’t change your tone for the sake of changing your tone. Change your tone to adjust to your message!

Facial expressions

Last but not least, is the facial expressions you show. This, for me is the number one hardest part to improve on. It’s very hard to stop your reflex as you react to something. Some people are blessed with poker face ability to not reflexively show what they think on their face, but alas, I’m not one of those people.

For me, even if I got this down, oftentimes, my micro expressions will probably still betray me. Read more on micro expressions here.

As with the tone, this is not an easy hurdle, but you’ll get better with practice. Remember, consistency with message is number one.

These 4 should give you a headstart and help you in improving your conversations/public speaking. The last part about the supporting media will be up in July!

This article is part 2 of 4 on engaging communication.

The first component that I’ll cover is the storytelling. It’s how you pack your message, in such a way that it invokes the feelings that you want from your audience. This is not a new concept, Nancy Duarte of Harvard Business Review already did a piece on the topic in 2012, but it’s amazing how people treat storytelling as if it’s rocket science, it’s not.

In essence, the issue with most presenters are that people see the presentation with only a single point of view, theirs. I’m not saying that this is wrong, but this needs to be supplemented with the audience’s point of view.

Telling people that they should do something doesn’t work.

You need to build a narrative to bring them to the right state of mind, easing them to do what you want them to do.

Remember from my first article, our interactions on weekends and weekdays feels different. What makes your weekend stories more engaging than your weekdays? Check out this framework!

MessagePack2

To begin with, you should make it clear. Why should your audience care about your message? This can also be called a lede to your story. Merriam webster defined lede as

The introductory section of a news story that is intended to entice the reader to read the full story

Your lede should be short enough to not lose your audience in the middle, but long enough to make a clear point on why your audience should care.

On weekends this can be as simple as

  • “You’ll never believe what happened to me last week…”
  • “I heard you’re doing a coffee shop right? I just read a good research on it yesterday!”

These kinds of message starts with what the audience will get from our message, from our conversation. We can start applying this to our normal weekday interactions! Instead of “This is our agenda for today. I’m going to share with you about our Q3 performance” why not “Our Q3 results was not as good as we hoped. Let’s analyze how we can recover in Q4“.

Then you need to make it compelling to your audience. This means painting a vivid picture in your audience’s mind. This can be the picture of the situation, this can be the ideal version, the facts, or even the worst case. Here I give you a few samples on how you can make it compelling:

  • Examples
  • Research facts
  • Analogy
  • Metaphors
  • Personal experience story

A key word that I love to use during my presentation/speech is imagine. It is one of the most powerful word that I can use. By starting my presentation with an “imagine” scenario, I can ease the audience to step into another person’s shoes and to let them think in a different way.

For example, if you want to share about financial inclusion, you can start with something like this

Imagine you’re living in a world without banks. You don’t have debit cards, you don’t have credit cards, you don’t get corporate loans, you cannot transfer cash easily. This is the reality for 64% of people living in Indonesia.

After you are sure your audience can imagine your story, then you need to convince your audience of your credentials and the validity of your message. This is highly dependent on the context of the conversation and previously established credentials. If you’ve known the person well, this part should be minimal, maybe slight reiteration, but don’t dwell on it, otherwise you’re getting boring. For example, if you’re selling an IT solution, you should mention what other companies have used the solution, how it impacts them, what’s the measurable outcome, is there any ROI?

And your whole story must be concise. If part of it doesn’t support your overall point, you might as well not put that part in. This is harder than you would think. If you ask me to speak for an hour, I don’t need to prepare. If you ask me to speak for half an hour, give me one day to prepare. If you ask me to speak for 15 minutes, give me 3 days to prepare.

This framework can be applied to a myriad of situations. You can use it to talk with clients, you can use it to tell a  story to your friends, coworkers, whoever it is! Of course, even if you have crafted the best story in the world, there’s still 2 more components you need to watch out for, which will come in the next 2 articles!

Stay tuned!