Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services—all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 537,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities.
A Visionary Leader
Laetitia Cailleteau is Accenture’s Global Lead of Conversational AI. She is also Accenture Technology’s lead for Data & AI in Europe – driving innovation, sales, and delivery for multiple industries and clients. Laetitia brings more than 20 years of experience in the consulting industry, has authored several academic publications, and holds patents in the conversational AI domain. She opened the Liquid Studio and Applied Innovation Lab in London. There, practicing a user-centered approach, her team offers flagship capabilities within AI and cognitive processes, as well as expertise in augmented and virtual reality, Internet of Things, Cloud, Blockchain and Security, amongst other essential technology solutions. She is also a reserve member of the Artificial Intelligence High-Level Group at the European Commission.
Shaping Career-Oriented Traits from Real Life
Career and real life are never separate or balanced – the combination forms the holistic day to day of an individual. Experiences gained in one reveal important lessons for the other and vice versa. Challenges in one can make the whole “system” break. Laetitia shares two key insights from life that have shaped her work approach.
The first is the importance of the support network. For Laetitia, an effective support network is one that grows and changes over time, reflecting life changes, new priorities and shifting goals. Laetitia believes that the best networks are founded on trust, allowing people to lean on a network for support whilst they focus their energies on the task in hand. As Laetitia explains: “My home support network is essential to me – especially at key moments of my life – such as when I moved to the UK or became a mother. Having people standing by me – like my husband, our nanny, the teachers at school, and my friends – made it so much easier to focus on what needed to be done and has provided a stabilizing force that has proved invaluable at work.” Going through career changes and evolution often requires to create or evolve a trusted support network too – so you can learn, lean on others, have champions cheering you on the way until you reach your goal and cruise – ready for the next move. Building this professional network and its various evolutions can take time and energy – but is absolutely essential.
The second key lesson for Laetitia is the importance of time management. Laetitia has found that with each new rung up the corporate ladder comes new responsibility, and people need to be increasingly mindful of how their time is used. According to Laetitia, this is about more than simply focusing on which project needs most attention. It’s also about finding time for those moments that bring you joy and fulfilment. Without that element of joy, Laetitia believes that work becomes an onerous duty that can make you feel drained and depleted. For Laetitia that means taking time to speak at events, organising think tanks or engaging with charities. Maintaining this delicate focus on core tasks and those moments of joy (whatever those may be for different individuals) is, in Laetitia’s view, key to a successful and fulfilling career.
Understanding the Power of an Intuitive Mind
Laetitia cites that keeping an eye out on the horizon and identifying market opportunities are integral to a leader with a visionary mindset. That skill, coupled with strong communication, can enable leaders to demonstrate perseverance, acclimatize to changes, and challenges. They should be able to inspire people and demonstrate the right cultural and community leadership.
Innovation Begins with an Idea
Laetitia shares that her inspiration usually comes from a mix of things colliding and forming an idea. This can be a conversation with people or through conferences, TED talks, news, client challenges, internal targets, and thought leadership – played against a basis of knowledge of what seems possible or could possibly be. This is where the importance of a diverse team plays in. In addition to the above, surrounding oneself with a diversity of thinking enables an employee to innovate for a range of target audiences. Upending the hierarchical corporate structure in an organizational group, breaking siloes, and promoting equal opportunities for younger colleagues to lead within the organization also go a long way. This action dramatically speeds up the flow of ideas, the pace of innovation and helps define if the ideas are worth pursuing.
Technology as a Precursor to New Leadership Roles
Accenture is leading the change. The company can digitize a whole new range of activities that were not possible before. These new technologies blur the boundaries of industries, enabling new levels of collaboration and creating new products and services, bringing the promise of technology to life.
Laetitia upholds the notion that the role of a leader in the digital age is to inspire and democratize this knowledge and ensure all employees are on board while being attentive to the benefits and responsibilities shared across every team and every person within the business.
Thriving in the Age of Disruption
Laetitia confirms that the 4th industrial revolution has formally kick-started. Companies are aiming to switch from industry siloes towards more human-centered services. Disruptive technologies like AI, machine learning, and big data enable organizations to work smarter and focus on the more rewarding aspects of work boosting productivity.
“Hopefully equating to less work and a long weekend for most of us!” says Laetitia humorously.
That being said, Laetitia foresees a new world that will be much more inclusive and balanced. She feels that our current mental model of the various phases of life – university, work, retirement, is somewhat outdated and needs to synch up with modern life.
Be Relentless – Advice for Emerging Women Leaders
Laetitia advises budding leaders to, first and foremost, elevate their individual work in the market and public sphere, get perspectives, take it all in and be relentless with things they believe in. She further encourages you to listen, adapt, and not be afraid of getting knocked down, as long as you get back up! According to her, one must chase their dreams and go after things one is passionate about.
Laetitia also affirms that there will be female leaders cheerleading young minds on the way to the top and asks that we all must also make sure to lend a hand to pull others up.