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Case Study: Jack Lancaster

Personal details
Degree:M.A. Honours (Management) Profile picture
School(s): School of Management
Year of Graduation:Jun-2012
National of: Australia
Employment details
Organisation: Accenture
Job title: Analyst Consultant
Occupational Sector: Management Consulting
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I entered Accenture as a graduate, having never worked for the firm before (this was the case for about 60% of my start group). I had known that I wanted to work in consulting for about two years prior to joining Accenture. This allowed me to work towards creating a tailored CV to suit the industry. During my final summer as a student I completed two management consulting internships. These were with small firms that didn’t advertise as taking interns, but that I reached out to. During my fourth year at St Andrews I made several consulting applications, and ended up receiving my Accenture offer at the beginning of my final semester.
What does your job involve ?
Within Accenture I am aligned to the Management Consulting Practice, and have been working in strategic sourcing & procurement. This involves (in layman’s terms) analysing where a client spends their money and trying to acquire these products and services, or substitutes at a price that represents a saving to the client. My role is quite quantitative in nature, and largely involves working with client non-pay data on Excel to segment it into categories, and perform analysis to identify potential savings targets for pursuit. I also spend part of my time client facing, working with internal stakeholder’s requirement gathering, providing feedback, and extracting ideas regarding process improvements.
What are the best bits of your job ?
For me the diversity of my work, both in content and context is most exciting to me. Although it is cliché, there really is no ‘standard week’. You could be working at several sites, in many cities, across several projects all within the same week. This, paired with the diverse workforce and fluid nature of the work itself, makes each day a new and exciting challenge. Furthermore, I have found that within consulting in general, as opposed to other ‘business jobs’ we are given a lot more ownership of our work. This allows you to go about your work in a manner that suits you, so long as you get the work done.
Why were you successful?
Whilst I was successful with Accenture, there were other firms where I was not. A lot has to do with how well you will fit with each company to which you are applying. Be honest about who you are, and don’t be shy about showing off how good you are. Knowledge of trends within the organisation, on-going deals, and knowledge usually reserved to those on the inside of the company will help to demonstrate your genuine interest, as well as your compatibility with the organisation. This knowledge is difficult to come by, and usually not available online, but will make your application clearly stand out above others. It is vital that you additionally demonstrate what particular assets you have that you can offer to the organisation, and its clients. Having proven success in comparable fields (work experience, society involvement, etc.) is very attractive to a prospective employer, as it minimises the risk associated with hiring you.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
I studied a management degree, so it goes without saying that from a content point of view, there was a lot of relevant material that I now utilise in my work as a consultant. Academic knowledge is by no means the only relevant skill I attained at St Andrews. The ability to manage my time across many different areas of work with deliverables on different dates mirrors the structure of my degree. Notably undertaking large projects such as my dissertation, whilst also finding time to manage smaller projects to a satisfactory level was key. Additionally, the skills gained through collaborative project work, are very similar to those needed when working with others on a consulting team.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Be persistent, and don’t be disheartened when you get your first rejection letter! The lifestyle can be challenging, packing a bag on a Sunday night becomes habitual, and catching up with friends and family become limited to fewer nights of the week. This is no bad thing, as these nights become allotted as personal time, and for me maintaining a work/social/personal-life balance has yet to become an issue. The hours can be long, however working smart will always supersede working hard, and if your work is finished by 5pm some days there is no reason why you can’t go home. Whilst Accenture is a massive organisation, there are many communities within it – as is the case at St Andrews. Your project team, sub-community, start group, and any clubs or societies you may join very effectively help you find your place and feel at home, in what could otherwise be an overwhelmingly large company. Despite its size, it is never difficult to come across familiar faces.