Learn all about work in the Talent and Organization / Human Potential practice.
Aline Kolankowski is a woman of many talents and persuasions. She is a hot sauce and pickle maker as well as a Peloton rider in her spare time and, from a work perspective, a management consultant at Accenture. Needless to say, Aline succeeds at whatever she puts her mind to.
Aline graduated from Gettysburg College with a concentration in computer science and a major in biology, yet entered the workforce working as a systems manager at American Express, where she worked for 13 years. From there, Aline worked at both Honeywell and CBS in Human Resources, before getting let go from her job in 2009.
Aline took this time to step back and re-evaluate her life trajectory – she even had a brief stint as a realtor, yet quickly realized this wasn’t a good fit. It was during this period that Aline pivoted to doing contract consulting and instantly fell in love with the type of work. After blindly applying online through Accenture’s job portal, she landed a job there as a management consultant manager working within the Talent and Organization / Human Potential practice. Through her work at Accenture, Aline has learned an incredible amount, including everything from cyber security and Salesforce to what the workforce of the future will look like.
Aline describes her work as building and managing relationships with her clients, vendors, and team in order to facilitate achieving goals. A day of work for Aline is dynamic- right now she is working through “hyper care” or post go-live support for her project at a large pharmaceutical company. Her objective is to ensure that their client hits all of their targets and she ensures this by having regular calls with them to go through open issues to get things resolved. Aline also meets with her business and technical teams, developing business requirements and solutions for her clients. Overall, Aline works to manage risks and juggle priorities, all while updating her clients on all of the above. When there is even a brief period in her day, Aline tries to fit in training and skill-building to keep herself sharp. Accenture consultants are encouraged to work on “plus one” projects that can help them gain experience and exposure to the extensive Accenture network.
Aline notes that the most compelling aspect of her work is the relationships she is able to build with her clients and team. She mentions a specific change management project she worked on with a Mid-Western technology company. Through this project, Aline was personally able to widen the depth and breadth of her knowledge, while making a significant impact on the company she was working with. She learned how to get employees engaged and involved as well as how to motivate people to see a different perspective through communication, tools, training, and interventions. Achieving the outcome doesn’t always come easy, however. Relationship building and aligning everyone in the right direction are some of the biggest challenges that Aline faces in her work, especially when she feels that everything is moving in the right direction until everything quickly begins to unravel again. Nevertheless, getting to see the outcome of her work – changing the way people do things – is what fascinates Aline and keeps her motivated in what she does.
Not only her clients do her clients motivate her, but the opportunity to step into a senior management position is also what engages Aline, as she is excited by the prospect of being able to lead more projects and take on more responsibility.
When asked about the best professional advice someone has ever given to her, Aline recalls a time when she had to speak to all of her American Express HR colleagues, yet was anxious to do so. Aline remembers one of her colleagues reassuring her not to be nervous because she was the only person in the room that knew what she was talking about at the level of expertise.
Her biggest takeaway- be confident in your own knowledge.
Aline’s advice for those looking to pursue a profession in consulting is to realize that it often seems glamorous, however, it’s much more work than glamour overall. Yet, despite the sleepless nights, there are so many opportunities to learn and grow, that if it’s something you are interested in, go for it and try it out. When it really comes down to it, finding meaningful work is about finding good people that you trust and value around you. Aline is eager to return to those people she has found at Accenture very soon, once face-to-face interactions and in-person client meetings are back on. In the meantime, she knows that those she needs are just a phone call away.