For Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, taking on new challenges is the key to success. In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, she imagined her future, saying “it’s about not wanting to be complacent, and wanting to continue to be challenged and learn.” This is exactly the advice she gives companies now as they face a world forever changed by COVID-19.
In a recent article for Fortune, Sweet suggests that companies who hold this ethos at their core when it comes to digital transformation are not only industry leaders, but also the best positioned to sail through this crisis and come out better on the other side. As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a make-or-break time for companies depending on their investments in technology, organizations who haven’t taken pertinent steps towards achieving digital maturity risk falling even further behind.
Sweet emphasized a few main ways in which companies should respond to COVID-19 if they aim to come out on top. She advises leaders to build a strong cloud foundation for their companies and set aggressive targets for scaling these capabilities in the months ahead. To scale rapidly and intelligently, she says organizations must build new relationships with digital, technology, and cloud companies to create a strong team that is fully invested in the business’s success.
Speed also plays a key role. As companies move quickly to keep up with new exigencies, they must keep an eye on the ways their decision-making processes and governance structures have shifted to increase agility, find ways to keep lean as the company moves forward, and streamline procurement. Maintaining this agility also requires leaders to keep their purpose in sharp focus and make sure the rest of their team is fully on board in driving this mission forward. This means clear communication is key. Finally, leaders must also be keen on learning from their customers, employees, and other leaders across industries.
Sweet herself is a self-made leader who came from humble roots and pushed the status quo throughout her career, especially when it comes to gender parity in the workplace. She is no stranger to facing challenge head-on, and has guided Accenture seamlessly through this tough time. Over the last few months, the company has re-skilled 37,000 employees and is currently navigating a variety of difficult hiring and promotion-related decisions. Perhaps because Sweet can view this situation as an opportunity for Accenture and its employees, they are coming out strong.