Katherine Louie is a Technical Recruiting Manager for Accenture with a focus on Diversity & Inclusion, so she knows how important it is to hire diverse technical teams. Accenture partners with Hackbright Academy, an all-women coding bootcamp in San Francisco, and has hired five graduates into their Technology and Consulting Development Programs! Katherine was impressed with the students’ drive and willingness to learn. She tells us why Hackbright students (and bootcamp grads in general) stand out, the hands-on projects they get to work on right away, and why diversity in tech is more than a buzzword.
Tell us about the technology team at Accenture and what it means to work in Diversity & Inclusion.
Accenture is a global professional services company approaching 500,000 employees around the globe and are constantly looking for top talent to join our team.
I’ve been at Accenture for 15 years – I began as a campus recruiting intern and progressed through the ranks doing campus recruiting, full-cycle recruiting, managing recruiting teams across Accenture Technology and Accenture Consulting. Based in the Bay Area in my current role as the West Region Diversity & Inclusion Recruiting Lead, I focus on hiring diverse talent for the region. At Accenture, we celebrate creating career opportunities for people across gender, race, individuals with disabilities, military veterans, and the LGBTQ community.
In my role, I get to develop and cultivate partnerships with local organizations like Hackbright who train up diverse students who are looking to get into tech. What Hackbright does is extremely aligned with Accenture’s priorities in hiring and attracting talent, and empowering women to have successful careers in tech.
Why is it important for a huge company like Accenture to recruit more women and underrepresented folks into technical roles?
When I first heard about Hackbright Academy, I was amazed at the thought of an all-female tech bootcamp. It goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to equality, and aligns more specifically with our focus on hiring more women. In fact, our CEO Julie Sweet announced last year our goal to achieve a gender-balanced workforce by 2025. Accenture is always looking to build diversity, provide different ways of thinking in the way we shape innovative solutions to our clients. Diversity is what we live and breathe every day, and meeting Hackbright has helped contribute to our goals.
Accenture is also passionate about workforce development and is creating a new talent pipeline for the company. It has expanded its already successful national apprenticeship program to the Bay Area With a focus on inclusive innovation, the apprenticeship program will address three challenges we believe San Francisco – and North America is facing, including the difficulties that underrepresented communities face in participating in the upside to the innovation economy, the skills gap facing most companies, and the growing need to provide a means for workers to be upskilled reskilled as technology disrupts the talent needs and types of roles available.
The US West Region recruiting team focuses on diversity recruiting in our community and embraces concepts to demonstrate our commitment to I&D. We have cultivated new strategic partnerships, leveraged new tactics to source diverse talent, hosted/attended more than 20 diversity recruiting events, and continue to be hyper-focused on our diversity referrals.
So how would a coding bootcamp grad fit in at Accenture – what kinds of technical roles do you hire for?
Accenture Technology is the powerhouse of our company, in which we work with clients to advance their digital transformation journey by implementing leading technologies from our ecosystem partners. Our unparalleled relationships with technology partner practices and platforms, including Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Workday, to name a few. Your role will involve project work – you’ll move from project to project and client to client so you’re not working on the same thing all day, every day. Because we work with over 90 percent of Fortune 100 companies, you’ll experience breadth and scope across industries.
Accenture’s Technology Development Program is open to candidates seeking entry-level positions, such as Technology Analysts. When we hire a Hackbright alum into our Technology Development Program, they typically enter as an Analyst with a diverse set of responsibilities spanning various roles and clients across Accenture. The possibilities are broad – it really varies person-by-person! It’s an opportunity to experience different technologies, see what they like and what they don’t like, and what path they want to pursue.
Have you hired any Hackbright Academy grads into the Technology Development Program?
We recently hired five Hackbright graduates into both our Consulting Development Program and Technology Development Program. On the Consulting side, they go through training for the analyst program at our Q Center outside of Chicago, which is where we do a lot of our training at all levels throughout Accenture. They would learn about our approach, how to deal with clients, and get training to become an Analyst at Accenture.
What do you look for when hiring bootcamp grads for technology positions?
On the entry-level front, we look for candidates who are strong communicators, demonstrate leadership qualities, who are curious and really have a passion for learning, training, and development. We’re looking for people who want to help shape our solutions for our clients with the latest emerging technologies.
There are a lot of bootcamp grads looking for jobs these days – what stood out about the Hackbright Academy graduates you hired?
I met our first two Hackbright hires at a Women in Innovation event that we hosted in the Bay Area, which was focused on inviting women in tech for potential openings at Accenture and for networking opportunities. They had graduated from Hackbright Academy and was really impressed with their caliber – they told me about their Hackbright experience, about how their tight-knit community leans on each other, and the ever-growing number of female alumni. I loved hearing that being in class with other women with similar goals made the whole experience less daunting. I was impressed with their passion for learning, so I kept in touch with them – it was good timing because we had Consulting Development Program opportunities available so I connected them to the recruiters and they immediately started the hiring process. It’s all about networking!
What got them the job – their technical interview, their culture fit, or their prior experience?
With these two specific Hackbright hires, their passion for learning really stood out. These two were also Teacher Assistants and were impressed with Accenture’s commitment to training and development. As a consulting firm, we don’t sell products so it’s all about our people. It seemed like they fit in so well with their technical background and teaching experience – I was just really impressed by them.
As an experienced recruiter, what’s your impression of coding bootcamps and how have you seen them change the tech landscape?
When I was recruiting for analysts on college campuses 15 years ago, it was the typical format of hosting informational sessions. I see bootcamps becoming more mainstream, especially in the Bay Area, but also growing throughout the US. More and more people from non-technical backgrounds are looking for programs that provide a solid technical curriculum and have partnerships with top tech employers. I’m from Toronto and it’s not as common there yet – my Canadian colleagues are surprised when I talk about going to Demo Nights to recruit bootcamp grads. But bootcamps are a great source of diverse, technical talent and I see them becoming more and more common.
Do you have a feedback loop with Hackbright Academy – can you make suggestions for their curriculum?
We have a solid relationship with Hackbright. They keep me in the loop on upcoming events like career fairs or demo nights, and they’re open to hearing about Accenture-hosted events. Now that we have hired a couple of Hackbright alumni, we are likely going to start a feedback loop and provide some insights to help enhance their curriculum and future graduates. It’s been a very mutually beneficial relationship so far since we began in January.
The technologies they learn provide a good foundation. The new graduates we hired in May have already gotten a few projects under their belt.
How do you ensure that bootcamp grads learn and grow at Accenture, especially in the Technology Development Program?
After new hires wrap up orientation, they go to training at the Q-center campus in St. Charles, just outside Chicago and then return to their home office where we provide a solid support network for them. They’re assigned a career counselor who can act as a mentor and help shepherd them throughout their careers. They have frequent touchpoints with the counselor so they can learn their background, skills, what projects they want to be part of, and the areas they want to develop. We really try to provide a number of ways they can have a buddy system and support network both in HR programs and in their own team.
Do you have any advice for bootcampers looking to get a job in tech at a company like Accenture?
Accenture loves Hackbright grads because they’re eager, love learning, and are motivated. My biggest advice is to network everywhere you go. Networking will provide opportunities and it’s great to get out there and connect. Check out our Accenture Careers Landing page to find your next opportunity here: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/careers
Will you hire from Hackbright in the future?
We are always looking for great talent and I know Hackbright will continue to be an important partner for us. I’m looking forward to their next career fair and demo night! Even if we don’t have current opportunities available, I love staying in touch with Hackbright alumni and potential grads.
At the first Hackbright Career Fair, we ended up hiring two TAs at that event! The next time we went back, we brought the two TAs who were then able to talk to other Hackbright students and grads about their own Accenture experience. It was a great way to pay it forward and create a great recruitment cycle so they can share their experiences and become advocates and champions for us.
Do you have any advice to other employers – big and small – considering hiring from coding bootcamps?
Traditionally, employers have looked at the standard source channels like referrals, alumni, and job postings, but tech bootcamps can be a great channel. They provide diverse talent, they’re eager, freshly graduated, and provides another source of top talent for us. It’s important to keep an open mind, understanding they may not have a degree in engineering or computer science, but make the time to meet these bootcamp grads.
We are expanding where we hire from to meet the needs of a changing workplace culture as we believe fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace is key to driving innovation and creating a culture of equality. Accenture’s research Getting to Equal 2019: Creating a culture that drives innovation, provides a guide for how organizations can create an inclusive environment that drives innovation mindset—and, in turn, offers the opportunity to advance careers.