Interview: Lisa Slade, Accenture, Women in Tech Excellence Awards finalist

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Lisa Slade, Managing Director, Accenture
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Lisa Slade, Managing Director, Accenture

The challenge of increasing diversity in IT is now firmly on the agenda across the UK, but women are still under-represented, especially at the top. They're also likely to be paid less than their male counterparts for the same work.

The Women in Tech Excellence Awards are designed to help move us towards a solution as an industry, by recognising and promoting IT's many talented women.

This year's winners were announced at a live awards ceremony on Thursday 23rd November in London. Lisa Slade of Accenture was one of the hundreds of finalists, competing for Hero of the Year - Enterprise; and Transformation Leader of the Year.

Before the awards, we caught up with Lisa Slade to ask her more about the company's priorities for the next 12 months.

Lisa Slade is the Managing Director at Accenture in software engineering and tech executive sponsor for apprentices and social mobility. She leads transformations in large-scale deliveries, currently leading programmes with 600 Data and AI software engineers in financial services.

Lisa is the executive sponsor for apprentices and social mobility. She had a challenging childhood, growing up in a deprived area with very limited opportunities. She worked incredibly hard, overcoming obstacles and now is enabling others to succeed through her purpose: "Regardless of background, you can be a hero of your own journey and empower others".

Lisa setup the Social Mobility I&D Pillar and wrote the strategy around three themes: a sense of belonging, bold entry and betterment in community and society.

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers.

Lisa Slade: Accenture is a leading global professional services company that helps the world's leading businesses, governments and other organisations build their digital core, optimise their operations, accelerate revenue growth and enhance citizen services—creating tangible value at speed and scale.

We are a talent- and innovation-led company with approximately 733,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.

Technology is at the core of change today, and we are one of the world's leaders in helping drive that change, with strong ecosystem relationships. We combine our strength in technology and leadership in cloud, data and AI with unmatched industry experience, functional expertise and global delivery capability. We are uniquely able to deliver tangible outcomes because of our broad range of services, solutions and assets across Strategy & Consulting, Technology, Operations, Industry X and Song. These capabilities, together with our culture of shared success and commitment to creating 360° value, enable us to help our clients reinvent and build trusted, lasting relationships. We measure our success by the 360° value we create for our clients, each other, our shareholders, partners and communities.

What makes you different from other companies?

Our strategy is to deliver 360° value for all our stakeholders by helping them continuously reinvent. To drive reinvention, innovation must be at the forefront, which requires us to attract, develop and inspire top talent. Talent is one of our most important areas of competitive differentiation.  As part of our talent strategy, we hire and develop people who have different backgrounds, different perspectives, and different lived experiences. These differences ensure that we have and attract the cognitive diversity to deliver a variety of perspectives, observations, and insights which are essential to drive the innovation needed to reinvent. To help achieve this diversity we set goals, share them publicly, and collect data to measure our progress, continuously improve, and hold our leaders accountable for ensuring we have the most innovative and talented people in our industry. This approach is a key driver of our progress.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

We recognise that some people come to Accenture having faced obstacles as an aspect of their identity or lived experience.  At Accenture, we are committed to harnessing these perspectives and ensure that all of our people have the opportunity to thrive and unlock their full potential. Our intention is to foster a culture and a workplace in which all of our people feel a sense of belonging and are respected and empowered to do their best work.

Accenture is working hard to build a workforce from all socio-economic backgrounds in the UK & Ireland, and reflect the society we operate in. This will impact everyone at every level by providing an equal and fair chance, no matter of their background. More than 33,564 hours of support were contributed by our UK people during our Time To Volunteer campaign, and specifically we hosted over 150 Movement to Work placements for those from diverse socio-economic backgrounds helping 2,504 young people on their career journeys.

What are you working on this year?

I currently manage a large IT Transformation programme at a leading financial institution. I am accountable and responsible for 600 Data & AI Software Engineers. I am also building the NextGen Leaders at Accenture, heading our Social Mobility capability, and I'm the MD sponsor of our Technology Apprentice Group consisting of 95 students from the University of East London.

What are you working on this year?

These awards celebrate excellence and by recognising diverse talent in the technology sector, we can move towards a more inclusive profession. Unbelievably, the proportion of women to men in technology roles has declined over the past 35 years, and half of young women who go into technology drop out by the age of 35. Accenture is on its way to achieve gender parity by 2025 and is focused on creating a workplace where everyone can thrive and all can be equal. I am really proud of the progress we are making, but there is still a way to go.

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