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tv   The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations  Bloomberg  October 8, 2021 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT

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♪ ♪ david: this is my kitchen table and also my filing system. over much of the past three decades, i have been an investor. at highest calling of mankind i thought was private equity. i started hearing it more. i watched your interviews and know-how to do something. i have learned from doing my interviews how leaders make it to the top i asked him how much she wanted. i said to 50 in did not
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negotiate with him. and how they stay there. you don't feel inadequate being the second wealthiest man in the world. one of the greatest growth businesses in the world is consulting. it seems everybody today is using a consultant or is a consultant the largest consulting firm is accenture with more than 569,000 employees and a market cap of $200 billion. julie suite has grown it dramatically as ceo. i had a conversation with her about why everybody uses consultants and why everybody should be a consultant. it seems as if everybody is a consultant these days. when people were being raised, they don't say, i hope you grow up to be a consultant. why does everybody want to be one and what are they doing? julie: i think we defy the label consultant. sometimes it seems to imply we only give advice.
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when you look at what accenture does, we are different than a traditional version of a consultant. our clients look to us for two things. relevance --how to help them be relevant today and tomorrow like a jaguar or land rover who wired us to help them radically transform the marketing of their vehicles and the experience. the other thing is results. not just advice but actually how did things change and how to execute like supply chain where we digitize it and change their inventory results in their turnaround. we don't simply consult in the traditional sense. we are about relevance and results. that is what is driving our business good david: suppose i'm a corporation and have a problem and typically today when you have a problem, you call a consultant. they call you up and say you
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consult with me to solve my problem. do you put in a team of people? julie: that is a great question. one of the most important things is to start with what is the problem or the opportunity and we are focused on the key to solutions that get customized by the client but not trying to beep a spoke. the old consulting is bringing people and studying it but today you can start with data. we serve 75% of the top 500 of the fortune 500. what we are bringing to clients are solutions that get customized. there based on experience. we invest a lot and will spend $4 billion in acquisitions this year and 800 million dollars in r&d and 700 patents are pending. all of these are assets for our clients to achieve their goals faster with higher quality and
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they can do -- then they can do on their own. that is the test. sometimes clients do not hire us because your business piece is not ambitious enough or they do not need us. david: my example -- i'm the ceo and iva problem and i call you up for a solution. how long does it take? does it take six months or a year or forever, 5-10 years? julie: one of the most important things that has come out of covid is the need to move very quickly. i have a lot of clients post-covid who would say we move so fast and i want to keep going and i say, what have you changed? oftentimes, they have not changed. we do not operate as big companies permanently in crisis mode. when you think about how long does it? a lot of it starts with the company being willing to set aggressive girls -- goals.
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we are doing work for example with a large consumer goods company where we said we will in 12 weeks have a pilot to actually improve their manufacturing. pre-covid, that would have been a six month project not because of accenture but because of how the client worked. what we are trying to do now is work with our clients to work differently and faster. david: do you charge by the hour or the project? is it cost-plus-profit? julie: our preference is to either have a fixed fee or something that shares upside and downside and the reason for that is that we do not view ourselves as a vendor or a consultant in that we are keeping ourselves at arms length. we believe the best way to get success is to co-create
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solutions as teams. the advice i will give ceos is our team at accenture and the client's team should have the exact same performance objectives so they are completely aligned. not every client is willing to work that way. we think it is really important. we have plenty of clients who want to go by the hour and that is their choice. that is not our preference good david: let's suppose somebody hires her firm and has a one year project. they say i do not like this and will not follow it. i will not pay your bill. does that happen? julie: we are not perfect. it may happen. shame on us if it takes a year to figure out that a client does not like what we do. one of the things we focus on a lot is working with a client day in and day out, side-by-side and not throwing things over the wall to consultants. unlikely that that scenario would happen.
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david: without violating confidences, could you give an example of buying somebody something that turned out to be great for them and they are so happy they're willing to groep -- brag about it? julie: we have lots of examples of that. if you take, for example, what we are doing with --, and we have announced a partnership there and we are helping --we talked about compressed transformation. we are helping them digitize the experience of being a consumer. helping them redo their inventory and systems. this is something that we are proud of the work we are doing together. david: let's suppose you meet a consultant. who do you call? julie: normally we call one of our own people but i will give you a great example. when i became ceo, i needed to put in a new operating model and i wanted to do it faster than we had ever done in our past, any client had done to prove you can move at scale so six months,
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biggest change in our history. at the time our practice was sold out to teach management new design and the head of my practice said the higher the small company. i would tell you my leaders were like, why are we hiring a different consultant? within two weeks the same leaders came back and said we need them to be part of the center and they are today. i am grateful they call because it was intimidating to have accenture hire someone but the lesson for that is to have humility. one of the things i think is important when we look at leaders in industry around digitization, it is those who are willing to not always build themselves, who think they have all of the answers, but actually looked outside and accenture did the same. ♪ david: how many mistakes or failures can you talk about? people feel you are a superhuman. julie: people asked that as if
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the only challenge is at work. challenges, in a lot of different packages. ♪
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david: let's talk about how you raise to be the ceo. julie: i grew up in california which has a sign that says work where you must but live and shop here. southern california. david: home of julie sweet. julie: we will have to work on that. david: were you a star high school student or star athlete? julie: i was a speech and debate start so i was starting as a freshman. i used to do two kinds of things. my dad used to get in his vw and i would do the circuit, the lions club, optimist club, appreciative of all those clubs that heard -- help me earn money from college -- for college.
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i was on the debate team and my parents didn't love it at times because i used the skills against them but it was definitely a great way of creating a scale. -- skill. david: you can debate your parents. julie: yes. i went to claremont mckenna college in southern california and then columbia law school. david: did your parents say you should be a lawyer? were you going to become a lawyer because you were good at talking and debating? julie: i wanted to be a lawyer since i was in eighth grade. i remember my senior year of college before i wrote -- except going to columbia, my professor said, have you ever met a lawyer? i said no. he said i'm am not letting you sign away the money to go to college to go to law school until you met a lawyer. i met a lawyer and said great. i still want to go to law
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school. i went to law school. david: you went across the country. i don't know why you went to columbia. what prompted you to go to columbia from claremont? julie: i am not sure why i had the center time. maybe it is because i going to china during college but i said i grown up in southern california and should experience the east coast. i intended to go back to southern california but fell in love with new york. it was a deliberate decision that i needed to diversify my experience. david: you went to work at a large firm in new york. why did you pick that? it wasn't the place a lot of women have become partners that. david: it was not -- julie: it was not. when i came back and accepted my offer, all of my women friends were saying, what have you done? all of my male friends were
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like, congratulations. it was not the selection of choice and it is run by a woman now. i picked it because i had no intention of staying aware. it was the best in the world and i wanted to go there for two years and go off and make my career. at the time i thought -- david: you became a partner. julie: i was the third woman corporate partner. the night in the history of the firm. david: you're a corporate partner at a well compensated law firm making a fair amount of money by any standard. why did you decide to leave and were the people there shocked? julie: i think there was surprised -- surprise. i was leaving for a great role so they were supportive. i still remember being at my dusk and picking up the phone when a recruiter called me about the accenture job and it was a few months after my father had
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passed away at a young age, 68. i think looking back, that is why i took a beating and i basically said i am 42 years old and can see my future and it will be a great future and accenture offer me something different. i decided to take it and i think it is a last gift from my dad to be honest. david: did you think, when you joined the company, a female would become the head of this organization or did you think it would be a male head? julie: i didn't take about it because i joined as general counsel and as the general counsel, coming in with average tenure on the leadership team when i joined was 40 beers -- 30 years. i didn't come in with the expectation of being ceo and when we think about how to make a change in leadership and continuing to foster diversity
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in your leadership, our former ceo was a great example. someone who sponsored me some potential and created a new pathway that i didn't have an expectation when i came into accenture. ♪
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david: you're one of the largest private employers in the u.s., is that right? julie: that is globally and last year we are proud that we added a net 100,000 jobs globally. david: you added that many jobs during covid? why was business so good? julie: it is interesting. when you think about what happened in covid, overnight, there was -- we moved online and accenture, since 2013, has been building our capabilities and digital security. at the time of covid, we became relevant and critical for all the world's leading companies. when you look at this fiscal year, which we just ended, we actually had more clients who had over $100 million in the first 3 quarters of the fiscal year than all of last year, driven by what we called
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compressed transformation, the need to digitize all parts of the business. david: one of your competitors, a company called mckenzie, they sate we do not want to be publicly traded. we are a partnership and it is easier to do this when you're not publicly traded. the market cap of over $200 billion at your publicly traded company. what do you think about private ownership? julie: it is an interesting question. for us, the markets are an important element of discipline. we are giving our results every quarter. of course, we think it attracts talent. our employee value proposition is a strong one because of our stock which is a huge part. we have a paper for -- pay per performance culture. it served us well in terms of attracting talent. david: you are not going to be
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trying to slip people from private equity into consulting? julie: private equity seems to be trying to compete with professional services and hiring a few people and acquiring a lot of professionals these days. david: that has been a great business which is why you see a lot of acquisitions. you are this from washington, d.c. it's a great place. it's the country's capital but it is not known as a place running global businesses from. why are you headquartered there? julie: we have not had a headquarters for 30 years. three decades at least. pre-covid, we were the largest organization running itself but we are leaders around the world, so the defect out headquarters has been wherever the ceo is so the last ceo was in paris and it was in paris. before that was boston and before the dallas. d.c. is a great place to be
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based and in fact this is the first time in 30 years the ceo and the cfo are out of the same office and i'm fortunate to have casey with me in d.c.. david: during the covid period, did you go to the office or work remotely? julie: i work remotely. one of the things we are famous for its being close to our clients and so our offices are at the center of our work and because we have distributed leadership team, i literally, even pre-covid, when you go to the office and beyond, teams cause and so during covid, i wanted to make sure our people felt comfortable working from home in did not feel pressured to go into the office. david: how do you meet your clients? do you meet them yourself? you have other people around the world. during covid, it has been difficult to meet anybody. you were traveling from office to home. julie: pre-covid, i traveled a lot. i think we have all learned during covid that connections
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can be built remotely. certainly, my fun fact was i became ceo september 1, 2019, and six months and 11 days after becoming ceo, covid, the pandemic was declared. i have had an interesting first couple of years and i built really strong relationships by leveraging technology and really thinking about how do you build connections? one of the great learnings out of covid is the idea of omn i-connections. too many people focus on remote in hybrid work and physical location as opposed to how do you connect with people? when you need to do it physically? have the intentional --what is required for connections? david: how do you keep up with what is going on around the world? do you know all of the big projects? do you get daily or weekly or monthly reports about what is
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going on? do you want to woo the clients yourself and get business? julie: i lead by example and our business is about clients. every quarter, i published, for my directors, how many client meetings i have had and how many meetings i have had which -- with our partners to reinforce our business begins with understanding our clients. i call it the proximity imperative. i spend more than 50% of my time with clients not just wooing them or in sales mode but understanding their relationships --and building relationships and that is what our foundation is built on is proximity to clients. with respect to running the business, one of the most important lessons i think any leader has is you build a great team and you rely on them for what they have been asked to do. i do not micromanage. i focus on who is doing what and
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what do i need to note? julie: let's opposed-- -- david: let's suppose you interview me after business school. what are you looking for? is it hard work, integrity, brilliance? that makes you a good consultant? julie: all of those are table stakes but one of the things we look for it -- yes, you want hard workers who have performed well but the most important skill that we see is the willingness to learn. the environment is changing. we know from a skills perspective, skills in 2017, 30% of them are obsolete today and so we test for learning. we ask basic questions like, what have you learned in the last six months that was not in a classroom? answer learning agility, curiosi ty, they are core to our hiring
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philosophy. david: what do you do when not consulting? do you have outside interests? julie: i took up tennis during covid, which is brave at 52 and i can hit the ball. i am not great but i can play a game and mostly, i focus on my two daughters. they are 13 and about to be 15. david: have you thought of hiring a consultant for your tennis game? it would improve your tennis game. julie: most of the time i pay -- play tennis with a coach because i can actually hit the ball and get a little bit better. david: ok. if the president of the united states called you and said, you are running a gigantic company and have a terrific job. i need some women leaders and my government. why don't you be secretary of something important? what would you say? julie: i would say i am honored to be asked but i have really important work to do in the private sector. david: you would not go in right now. julie: that is not my current
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aspiration. david: somebody who is watching this would say this person has an incredible life, grows up to be a partner, now she is the ceo of this company. can you cite something that did not work out and your professional life so people can feel they are not just a superhuman and made people feel good? you know how many mistakes or failures you can talk about? julie: people asked that question as if the only challenge is at work. for me, work has been a great place. i have had a lot of success and i do not have spectacular failure. in my own personal life, my father died. when he was 68, i have breast cancer. we had drug addiction in our family. mental health issues could -- i ssues. one of the things i have learned is challenges, in a lot of different packages. to have empathy for people, when
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somebody has a bad day, you do not know if that is because they have something going on at home or in their personal life and my challenges have been challenges. i talk about that because that is true for a lot of people. ♪
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francine: welcome to the bloomberg special, "price of power," where we look at the ongoing global power shortage. i'm francine lacqua. from europe to asia, supply restraints from the world's top producers, it could spell an energy crisis that could upend the global recovery. the post-pandemic rebound collides with colder months in the northern hemisphere. avoiding a winter of discontent, governments warn of blackouts.

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