CONSULTING / PROFESSIONAL SERVICES – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in consulting or professional services.
Kaila Perez (THF ‘15)
Please describe your role.
I’m a Management Consultant and work primarily with Media and Tech clients, ranging from Facebook to Spectrum Cable. I’m part of the Customer Sales & Service practice, which is a group specialized in using tech and data to improve business operations and redesign customer experiences to ultimately generate long-term business health. In essence, a lot of what I do is understanding the customer (what are their needs and pain points?), come up with the ideal experience (what’s the most intuitive and enjoyable process for customers to purchase/consume/engage with our client’s products?), understand the holistic experience (websites, apps, stores, chatbots, etc.), and then eventually build out and operationalize these concepts (what people, process, tech, and data requirements are needed to bring this to life?)
What do you enjoy most about your company?
Projects at Accenture could be as short as a few weeks and can range up to 3+ years. In my 4 years at the firm, I’ve worked on 9 different projects across 5 different industries (Media, Tech, Health/Public Service, Utilities, and Finance), which has really allowed me to build a diverse skill set and gain a wide perspective on how businesses today are ran at varying stages of maturity.
In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
Truthfully, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do out of undergrad and saw consulting as an awesome place to start to developing professional and managerial skills and build up my business acumen. Many people told me Consulting in a lot of ways is like going to business school, which I can totally see now. I’ve gained experience presenting to executive clients, work in highly collaborative settings, and have gotten first-hand exposure to how Fortune 500 companies operate and scale their businesses.
How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
First of all, the T. Howard community – particularly the NYC THF ’15 crew – has truly been invaluable to me. Being able to navigate our young careers alongside each other as young people of color has been inspiring, motivating, humbling, and everything in between. Their successes – whether they realize it or not – are a massive source of inspiration; I can think all the way back to when Nikki Dei worked the Rio Olympics to when we all landed full-time jobs in the big city to more recently AJ Rowe getting promoted to Director at BBDO at 26! The group as a whole is a constant reminder to ensure I’m aligning my path with my values, purpose, and interests. Whether at a brunch meet-up to celebrate our successes or an honest conversation in the group chat – I often take pause and appreciate how special it is to be part of this ambitious, laser-focused, and above all, loving group of individuals.
In terms of the summer program itself, T. Howard helped me secure an internship at AT&T AdWorks in NYC my junior year, which is where I really established my foundational knowledge around the digital advertising landscape and leveraging customer data to create personalized experiences (a key functional skill I still use today). As a Statistical Science student, it was awesome to see real life applications of “big data” in the Media and Tech space.
What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?
Adaptability and ability to ask meaningful questions. Often times, consultants are put into ambiguous situations and tasked work with little context nor guidance. Being resourceful in leveraging team members and scrappy research, like in most occupations, is crucial. In Consulting it’s particularly important to be able to conduct scoping discussions with clients to ask questions that provide clarity to the problem, context, and the ultimate goal and use case of the deliverable/end product.
If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?
Most consulting firms have some type of case interview – where they essentially provide you a hypothetical client scenario and you work through it live. To prepare, I definitely suggest reading Case in Point to learn classic consulting frameworks and finding a friend/relative to practice with! To get smart on newer-school consulting tools, I’d familiarize myself with Design Thinking strategies and Agile Project Management. Also, you can read up on Accenture client success stories here to get a more concrete understanding of the work we do.
Do you perform your work in a cubicle, office or open workspace? Please describe what’s on your desk at this moment.
This varies so much because consulting projects can range from being 100% remote to 100% travel where you work at the client’s HQ (though this will likely become less common in the coroneconomy.) I’ve had projects in NYC, St. Louis, Silicon Valley, and one that was 100% remote. Accenture has 200+ offices in 55 countries with open space for people to optionally work from but I’m usually working from the client site or from home – but go into the office when there are events or meet-ups!
In one sentence please describe what work/life balance means to you.
Once I log off work, being able to be 100% unplug and be present with loved ones; sounds simple but it’s extremely easy to get immersed in work and forget to set boundaries.
Use one word to describe how you practice self-care.
Check-out @PracticalCooking on Instagram!
@PracticalCooking is my passion project aimed to make healthy cooking more accessible and affordable. I’m actually currently offering free food photography shoots for local LA food/beverage Black-owned businesses in support of Covid relief and in solidarity with the Black community. See outreach here.