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tv   The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations  Bloomberg  October 9, 2021 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT

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david: this is my kitchen table and also my filing system. over much of the past three decades, i've been an investor. the highest calling of mankind, i've often thought, was private equity. [laughter] and then i started interviewing. i watched your interviews, so i know how to do some interviewing. [laughter] i've learned from doing my interviews how leaders make it to the top. >> i asked how much he wanted, he said $250k, i did not
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negotiate. i did no due diligence. david: i have something i would like to sell. [laughter] and how they stay there. you don't feel inadequate now because you are only the second wealthiest man in the world, is that right? one of the greatest businesses is consulting. the largest consulting firm in the world's exsentra with the market cap over $200 million. i had a conversation with julie suite 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 as they don't say to the child, i hope you grow up to be a consultant. why does everybody want to be a consultant and what are all these consultants doing? julie: i think we defy the label consultant because sometimes that seems to imply we only give
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advice. when you look at what we do, we are different than the 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 land rover who hired us to transform the experience of their owners. the other thing they look for is results. not just advice but how do things change and how do you execute? somebody who hires us for supply chain we digitize it and change their inventory results, their turnaround. we don't consult in a traditional sense. we are about relevance and results and that is what is driving our business. david: let's suppose i am a corporation and i have a problem. typically when you have a problem what you do is call a consultant. they call you up and say, would
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you consult with me to help solve my problem? you then have a team of people? julie: great question. the most important thing is we always start with what is the problem or opportunity and we are very focused on repeatable solutions. they get customized by the client but not trying to be the spoke. the old consulting is let me study it but today you can start with data. we serve 75% of the top five fortune 500. what we are bringing to our clients are solutions that then get customized that are based on experience and we invest a lot. we will spend $4 billion this year and acquisitions, $8 million in r&d, 7000 patents pending. all of these things are assets to help our clients achieve their goals faster then they can
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do on their own and that is the test. sometimes we say, don't hire us because either their business cases are ambitious or enough or they don't need us. david: i am a ceo, i call you up, give me a solution. how long does that normally take? six months, a year, or is it a forever solution, five or 10 years? julie: one of the most important things that has come out of covid is the need to move very quickly. a lot of clients post-covid said, we move so fast. well, what have you changed? often times, you know, they haven't changed. we don't operate as big companies in crisis mode. when you think about how long does it solve things a lot of it starts with the company being willing to set aggressive goals. we are doing work, for example,
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with a large consumer goods company where we said, we are going to, in 12 weeks, have a pilot to improve their manufacturing. and that pre-covid would have been a six month project not because of accenture but how the client worked. what we are trying to do now is work with our clients to work differently and work faster. david: what do you charge? do charge by the hour, the project? is it a cost plus profit thing? julie: our preference is to either have a fixed fee or have something that shares upside or downside. the reason for that is we don't view ourselves as a vendor or consultant and that we are keeping ourselves at arms length. we believe that the best way to get success is to co-create
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solutions, have integrated teams. the advice i will give ceos is the teams should have the exact same performance objective so that they are completely aligned. not every client is willing to work that way but we think it is really important. we have plenty of clients that want to build by the hour and that is their choice but that is not our preference. david: let's suppose somebody hires your firm and have a one-year consulting project. at the end they say, i don't like this advice, i'm not going to follow it. in fact, i am not good to pay your bill. does that ever happen? julie: we are not perfect so it may happen but shame on us if it takes a year to figure out our client doesn't like what we do. one of the things we focus on a lot is working with the client day in and day out side-by-side and not throwing things over a wall. unlikely that that specific
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scenario would happen. david: without violating confidence can you give me an example of something where you advised somebody and it turned out great they are willing to brag about the great job you did? julie: we have lots of examples of that. [laughs] for example, we announced a partnership with shiseido. we are helping them digitize their experience of the end consumer, we are helping them redo their inventory system. this is something we are both very proud of the work we are doing. david: let's suppose you need a consultant. who do you call? do you call mckinsey or one of your own people? julie: normally when we need a consultant we call our own people. 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 and
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any client had done to prove that you can move at scale. six months, the biggest change in our history. at the time, our practice was completely sold out to do change management and new work design and the head of my practice said, i think you should hire this small company. my leaders were like, why are we hiring a different consultant? within two weeks the same leaders came back and said, we need kessler to be part of accenture and they are today. i am grateful they took the call because i am sure it was a little intimidating to have accenture hire someone, but the lesson for that is to have humility. one of the things i think it's really important, when we look at industry around digitization, it is those that actually look outside. david: do you have any mistakes you made or failures you can talk about so people feel you are not just superhuman? julie: people ask that question
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as if the only challenge is at work. challenges come a lot of different packages. ♪ david: a lot of ceos are being asked to take statements on public policy issues, voter rights or something like that. what is your posture in the posture of accenture? should you take positions on these or you, as a ceo, should take positions or not? julie: it is about what the position is being asked about. we start with, do we have relevance and are we willing to walk the talk? take payee quality for example. we are one of the largest employers in a world and a very diverse employer. we have been systematically making sure that we have equal pay for equal jobs for seven or eight years now in terms of robust systems.
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when we were asked to sign, by president obama, a commitment we thought we could sign it because we were relevant and we were walking the talk. we definitely look at is it relevant to our business and we have something relevant to say? and then we have to make sure we are committed to take action, not just say somebody else should but at our company. david: traditionally, ceos were supposed to worry about, public companies shareholders. now you have to worry about employees, your customers, your communities. do you focus on your shareprice and stockholders only or do you worry about other constituents when running this company? julie: we look at our stakeholders as being our employees, client, partners, certainly shareholders but also communities. we have done so for a long time because we think it is good for
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business and what creates shareholder value. we think it is important for our shareholders that we take that broad view. ♪ david: let's talk about how you rose up to be the ceo. you grew up where? julie: i grew up in tustin, california. which has a little sign and it says "work where you must but live and shop in tustin." david: i thought it would have a sign called home of julie suite. [laughter] you were an athlete in high school? julie: i was a debate star. i was in the lions club. i am greatly appreciative of all those clubs because they helped me earn money for college. my parents did not love it so much because i used the skills
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against them but it was definitely a great way of creating a skill that i have today. david: in other words, if you are debate champion you can use it to debate your parents. julie: yes. [laughter] david: where did you go to college? julie: i went to claremont mckenna and then i went to columbia law school. david: did your parents say that you should be a lawyer or that -- because you're are good at talking and debating? julie: i wanted to be a lawyer since i was in eighth grade and in my senior year of college one of my professors said, have you ever met a lawyer? no. he said -- i was borrowing all this money to go to college -- i am not letting you go until you meet a lawyer. i met a lawyer and said great, i
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still want to go to law school. david: you went across the country -- and i don't know why you went to columbia. you like places that begin with a c? why claremont and columbia? julie: maybe because i had gone to china during college but i said, i have grown up in southern california i should experience the east coast. i fully 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: after you graduated from columbia you went to work at kravitz, wayne, and moore. it was not a place a lot of women had become partners at. julie: it wasn't. at the time i remember when i came back and accepted my offer my women friends were saying, what have you done? my male friends were like,
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congratulations. it was not the selection of choice but is now run by a woman by the way. i had no intention of staying a lawyer. it was the best in the world and i wanted to go there for two years and then go off and make my career, at the time i thought, in asia. david: you stayed, became a partner, the third woman partner? julie: the third corporate woman partner and ninth in the history of the firm. david: corporate partner at cravath with his well compensated and you are making a fair amount of money. why did you decide to leave and give up the partnership and were thec people atravath shocked -- at cravath shocked? julie: i was leaving for a great role so i think they were supportive. i remember being at my desk and picking up the phone when a recruiter called me about the accenture job. it was a few months after my
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father had passed away at a very young age, at 68. looking back, i think that is why i took the meeting. i basically said, i am 42 years old and i could see my future. it would be a great future. i loved cravath. accenture offered a good job and i think it was the last gift of my dad. david: did you think when you joined the company that a female would be part of this giant organization or did you think it was going to be a male round -run thing? julie: when i joined the council, the average tenure was 30 years. i did not come in with the expectation that i would be ceo. you know, really when we think about how do you make a change in leadership and how do you
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continue to foster diversity in your leadership? our former ceo was a great example of someone who sponsored me, saw potential, and created a new pathway that i certainly didn't have an expectation when i came into accenture. ♪
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david: you're one of the largest
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private employers in the united states is that right? ,julie: that is right and that is globally. we are proud that we added a net 100,000 jobs last year around the globe. david: during the time of covid, you added that many jobs? i mean, why was business so good during the covid period. julie: it is really interesting. when you think about what happened in covid, overnight, we all moved online. and accenture, since 2013, has been building our capabilities in digital cloud and security. at the time of covid, we became relevant and critical for all of the world's leading companies. and when you look at the fiscal year which we just ended, we actually had more clients that had over $100 million in bookings in the first three
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quarters of our fiscal year. driven by what we call compressed transformation, the need to digitize all parts of the business. david: one of your competitors -- and you may not admit you have competitors -- mckinsey, you may have heard of them, they say, we don't want to be a public traded company, we are a partnership and it is easier to do this when you are not a publicly traded company. but you are a publicly traded company with a market cap of over $200 million. what do you think about those who say they should not be publicly traded? julie: it is an interesting opinion. the markets are an important part of discipline. of course, we think it really attracts talent. our employee value proposition is a really strong one because of our stock. we have a pay-for-performance and culture tied to creating value for all of our stockholders. it served us well in terms of attracting great talent. david: but you are not competing
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with private equity i hope. trying to steal people from private equity to go into consulting. julie: no, private equity tries to compete with professional services these days. david: that has been a growth business. you are doing this from washington, d.c.. it is the capital of our country but not necessarily known as a place you run global businesses from. why are you headquartered in washington, d.c.? julie: we have not had a headquarters really since -- for, 30 years three decades at least -- for three decades at least. the defective headquarters has always been with the last ceo was. before it was paris and then before that it was boston and before that it was dallas.
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d.c. is a great place to be based. this is the first time in 30 years that the ceo and cfo are out of the same office. i am very fortunate to have the casey here in d.c. with me. david: did you go into the office or work remotely? julie: i worked remotely. one of the things we are famous for his being close to our clients. our offices are not the center of our work and because we have distributed leadership team, i literally, even pre-covid, would go to the office and beyond teams calls. during covid i wanted to make sure our people felt comfortable working from home and did not feel pressure to go into the office. david: how do you meet your clients? you don't need them yourself so much because you have got other people around the world and during covid i assume you did not meet anybody. you were just traveling from your office to your home if that. julie: right. pre-covid i did definitely travel a lot and i think we have all learned during covid if that
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connections can be built remotely. certainly my fun fact was i became ceo september 1, 2019 and literally six months and 11 days after becoming ceo the pandemic was declared. i had a very interesting couple of years and i built really strong relationships by leveraging technology and really thinking about how do you build connections? i think one of the great learnings out of covid is this idea of omni connection. i think too many people focus on remote work and hybrid work and physical location as opposed to how do you connect with people? when you need to do it physically? how to be intentional and what is required for connection. david: how do you keep up with what is going on around the world? you have so many consultants and do you know all the big projects? do you get reports daily or weekly or monthly about what is
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going on or if there are problems? do you have to go out and woo the clients yourself? julie: first and foremost, i lead by example. our business is about clients. every quarter i publish, from all my managing directors, how any client meetings i have had and how many with the ecosystem partners to reinforce our business begins with understanding our clients. i call it the proximity imperative. i spend 50% of my time with clients. not just wooing them, not in a sales mode but understanding them and building relationships. and that is what our entire foundation of accenture is built on. with respect to headway run 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, you know, who is
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doing what and what do i need to know and having a great team. david: let's suppose i go to business school and do well and say, i want to be a consultant. you interview me or some of the interviews me. . what are the skills you are looking for? hard work, integrity, brilliance? what mick said good consultant? julie: all of those i think our table stakes the one of the things we really look for is yes, we want people who work hard who have performed well. but the most important skill we see is the willingness to learn. because the environment around us is changing. we know from a skills perspective skills in 2017, 30% are obsolete today. so we test for learning. we have basic questions like, what have you learned in the last six months that wasn't in a classroom? and so, learning agility, curiosity are really core to our
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hiring philosophy. david: what do you do when you are not consulting? you have any outside interests? julie: i took up tennis during covid which was pretty brave at 52 and i can hit the ball. i am not great but i can play a game. mostly i focus on my two daughters who are 13 and about to be 15. david:david: have you thought about hiring a consultant for your tennis game? that would improve your tennis can, right? julie: most of the time i play tennis with a coach because that way i can actually hit the ball. [laughs] david: ok. if the president of united states called you and said, you were running a gigantic company and i've done a great job. i need some more women leaders in government. why did you come 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 wouldn't go 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 professional life. rose up to be partner at cravath and other ceo of this gigantic company. can you cite something that did not work out or your professional life so people can feel you are not just a superhuman and make people feel good they can see some but he made a mistake? do you have mistakes you made or failures you can talk about? julie: you know, people ask that question is if the only challenges at work. and for me, work has been a great place. i have had a lot of success and i don't have a spectacular failure. but in my personal life, my father died when he was 68. i had breast cancer. we had drug addiction in our family. mental health issues, and so, one of the things i have learned is that challenges come in a lot of different packages. to have empathy for people.
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if somebody is having a bad day, you don't know if that is because they have something going on at home or in their personal life. my challenges have not been about spectacular failures at work but they have been challenges. and i talk about that because i think that is true for a lot of people. ♪
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