“I joined Accenture in 2000 after getting a master’s in management information systems. 15 years later, I’m still here.”
Ann Gaboriault started as a consultant on Oracle products and quickly specialized in financial systems within the Natural Resources industry, working on different projects across Canada and the U.S., and eventually for two years in Switzerland. When she returned home to Montréal, she took on a new position in Accenture’s Application Outsourcing Practice. “Seven years later, I’m now leading the practice in Montréal, with teams here in Canada, USA, Europe and Asia, currently working on the next generation of Application Outsourcing with few of our global clients. This is an exciting time for us – we’re delivering Application Outsourcing As-a-Service on the Cloud for our clients, helping them become agile, digital businesses.”
When Gaboriault started at Accenture, she believed people pursued short careers in consulting, primarily due to the nature of the work – client services that most times demanded constant travel and the perceived difficulty in finding a work-life balance. “That has proven itself untrue. Over a decade-and-a-half, I’ve realized that needs change over time. Work-life balance is not the same from year to year, but you can always make it work when you have support of leadership that sees your potential.”
Mentoring has been beneficial for Gaboriault who says she’s had different mentors at every stage of her career. “I have a tendency of finding people who are very different than myself, so I get a different perspective on my work and my career path. Mentors have pushed me to do the best I can and to take control of my career. One of my mentors once told me, “Your career can happen to you if you do not take ownership”. Gaboriault has found sponsorship to be very useful specifically when going for a promotion, noting that, “people will sponsor you if they know you and know your work,” and that networking is key to finding the right sponsors.
Finding a balance
Gaboriault believes that “we can have it all, but not all at the same time.” She quickly climbed the ladder to senior manager and then decided a few years ago to pursue, temporarily, a “horizontal career” so she could work locally and concentrate on starting a family. “I thought, my partner can work the crazy hours for a while – she had just started her career as a critical care physician. My goal is to enjoy what I do, grow in what I do, but be home with our toddlers every night.”
As Gaboriault mentions, there are many programs at Accenture that have helped advance her career and spend more time with her family. She notes, “We have a variety of different mentoring programs, learning and professional development courses, training for “High performing women,” flexible work programs. For working parents like myself, we have one year parental leave policy in Canada, which is offered to any parent, and Accenture also offers the opportunity to work locally for one year following return from the birth or adoption of a child.” Gaboriault is on a flexible schedule, currently working around 30 hours a week, which she describes as “a win for myself, my family and my work with clients.”
Taking the lead with the Canada LGBT Employee Resource Group (ERG)
Gaboriault has been involved with the Canada LGBT ERG since its founding in 2007 and strongly believes the ERG is a necessary step toward helping all employees feel comfortable and accepted at work. “Being me 100% of the time, at Accenture but also with my clients, enables me to speak openly about my family and other personal matters. Being out at work has also helped my colleagues and clients feel more comfortable sharing their personal stories, worries, fears, helping our day-to-day business communications feel more human.”
Gaboriault transitioned into leading the ERG when she realized they could have a global impact– helping and encouraging employees from around the world to join the company’s Global LGBT Network, which spans more than 40 countries, and supporting other ERGs in locations where there are unique laws affecting the LGBT community.
“Our goals globally focus on four pillars – training, policies, benefits, and professional development. We train to build awareness and understanding of the LGBT community, create policies to ensure equal treatment of employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, strive to provide benefits that are equal for same-sex and opposite-sex partners, and professionally develop our people to facilitate career growth and encourage networking and mentoring.”
Gaboriault describes the way Accenture is achieving these goals: “Through best-practice programs like our LGBT Ally Program, which allows anyone within Accenture to identify as an advocate for the LGBT community; a dedicated focus on raising awareness and education; and with a strong commitment from leadership to building an inclusive environment.” According to Gaboriault, having support from leadership is crucial. “I think it’s very encouraging when our senior leaders who are LGBT are also out themselves. They’re role models that help us envision ourselves reaching new heights in our careers.”
A strong commitment to inclusion & diversity
Having a diverse workforce of people with different capabilities, cultures, perspectives, abilities and experiences is inherent to the unique way Accenture operates. “Our workforce is a reflection of the clients we serve and our local communities. A commitment to inclusion & diversity is simply how we do things,” says Gaboriault. For Accenture, this commitment is an integral part of living by the company’s core values. “In essence, it’s what makes us “greater than” in all that we do.”
Time with the family
Outside of work, Gaboriault is an avid skier. “I ski thirty plus days per year, great exercise and your mind is off work when going down the slopes at 40km/hour, though I now spend hours on the magic carpet with the kids.”