I graduated from the University of Western Australia (UWA) with a Master of Professional Engineering and a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Engineering Science and Physics. I really enjoyed my first three years of study. With physics and mechanical engineering, you look at how the world works and solve complex problems. But, when it came to my masters, I got frustrated. The process of engineering design was not as creative as I would have liked. It tended to be standardised, with a narrow scope in what you can work on.
My graudation day from engineering at UWA in 2017
Once I realised engineering wasn’t a good career fit, I started researching other possible pathways. I went to different clubs and societies at uni and eventually stumbled on consulting. What attracted me was that you get to understand the bigger picture and see where your work has an impact. I’m interested in solving the right problems – not working on solutions to the wrong problem.
I had a look at the major companies in the industry, but Accenture seemed like the right fit. I liked the idea of being empowered to apply technology to solve problems. I was impressed by the firm’s global size and the potential to leverage a massive network of expertise to solve problems in the best possible way for our clients.
Going Global: Visiting the Houston Innovation Hub in 2019
Nowadays, I work in Accenture’s Applied Intelligence practice. We’re a technical team, leveraging the skills of AI experts and data scientists to embed intelligence within our clients’ organisations. In practical terms, that means we help people make smarter decisions by drawing on data from diverse sources. We also build models and use visualisation tools to help our clients make sense of the information they get.
One of the cool things is where we use complex models with lots of data points from inside and outside the business to help people predict what’s going to happen. For example, in an oil or gas plant, we can now identify ahead of time when a particular piece of equipment might fail. Previously, the only way to check was to have a worker go onsite, often into a hazardous environment, to inspect the plant manually. Now, we can use drones and satellite imagery to prevent workers having to go in – and create models to predict the likelihood of failures. In Perth, these iniatives are all in support of achieving our purpose, ‘Triple Zero’ for the resources sector; that is Zero Loss, Zero Harm and Zero Waste.
Here’s what a typical day in my life looked like before the COVID-19 crisis:
A typical day starts at 7am. I leave home around 8am and catch up with soccer highlights or watch YouTube during my 30-minute commute. I have a quick coffee when I get to work in the CBD and get into the office around 8.45am. At 9am, we have a daily stand up with the team: my boss, the data engineers, our test, run and security analysts and I.
Whiteboarding a solution with the team on the Surface Hub
Everyone talks about what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today and any challenges. A quarter of an hour later, we all have a good understanding about the work the team is doing. I know what I need to do – both to get my own work done and to support the team around me.
Each day is a different. In the morning, I usually do creative work, often thinking about customer journeys – what happens when a user interacts with the technology we are working on? I might sit down with a white board and put myself into the business user’s shoes. What are my pain points? How do I want to use this technology? What questions would I like it to be able to answer? Then, I take my thinking and run it past my manager, the client and our change manager – and then incorporate their feedback into the design I’ll work on in the afternoon.
Grabbing a coffee in the collaborative area in the Perth office
I take an hour for lunch. You’ll usually catch me on a nice 20-minute walk to get a continental roll. I work up a sweat and enjoy the sunshine. It’s a great way to re-set the mind.
In the afternoon, work gets a bit more technical. I build out prototypes and test them with my colleagues. Towards end of the afternoon, I’ll talk to a wider group who’ll help to industrialise the prototypes. It’s so cool to be the starting point of tools that will eventually help thousands of users to do their work more easily. I find it very rewarding.
We’re going live on my current project in 2-3 weeks! It’s been awesome to see something moving this fast, scaling up technology across the whole organisation in different locations. I’ve gone through the whole journey, from a time when we didn’t even know what we were going to create.
During the COVID-19 crisis my typical day has changed slightly but I am enjoying the flexibility:
I wake up around 7.30am and spend an hour to wake up, get breakfast, tun some errands around the house and get changed. At 8.30am I dial into a daily call with the local Applied Intelligence team to check-in, see how we’re all going, talk about work and discuss what’s going on in the world at large.
Reminding myself I am still working from Perth on one of my daily Microsoft Teams Calls
I then get into work for a couple of hours before going for a coffee run to my local around 10.30am. At 11.30am we have our daily stand-up with the project team where we talk about what we accomplished yesterday, what we are working on today and share any challenges we forsee encountering. After this I work for another hour or so until lunch. After lunch I spend a few hours on technical work, building out prototypes, testing them with my colleagues and industrializing and scaling them.
I finish the formal work day early be it to go for a ride when the weather permits or to spend time with the family once they have returned from school and work. It’s great to have a couple of hours in daylight hours spending time doing things you love outside of work, either by yourself or with the family. After dinner, I normally hop back on later in the evening around 8pm for an hour or two to check my emails and work on any items I wanted to close out in the day.
The adjustment to working remotely was tough for the first few weeks, but with tools Accenture provided me I’ve come to embrace the flexibility of the new working environment. Being in one of Accenture’s most isolated offices too, the tranisition to working virtually has brought me closer to the global community which is a silver lining during the crisis.
Some of the art in the Perth Innovation Hub
Accenture has taught me I’m more creative than I imagined. I was very much a STEM student, but I’ve discovered I’m really good at guiding design thinking, developing visualisations and looking at tools from an end user perspective. I’m surprised how much I enjoy flexing those creative muscles.
The people here are great. My boss is extremely busy, but he’s always happy to make time for me. We have a couple of jokers in the team and a broad cultural mix. If I have a problem, people always help me out. If I notice someone else having a bad day, I’ll tap them on the shoulder and see what I can do.
Every second week, we go for drinks after work as a team. We also have regular team lunches. It’s great to come together and talk about things outside work.
I’ll stay on this client project until September. After that, I’m hoping to build on my passion of improving the user experience with technology. I’m very interested in the world of personalisation – using AI and virtual assistants to make people’s lives easier. I can’t wait to work with increasingly advanced technology to improve the experiences of people who’ll use the tools I design every day.