Mark Ryan, Country Managing Director, Accenture Ireland
I joined the company directly from college as part of the annual college milkround. Accenture accepts high-performing graduates from a diverse range of academic backgrounds. Although my degree was in Natural Science I had a keen interest in business and in IT in particular, which the company recognised and subsequently developed.
A turning point
I had the chance to work in the USA in 1989 and 1990 which was a great experience. It provided new career development opportunities and reinforced for me the need to grasp every opportunity that comes your way.
Being made the CMD for Ireland in 2005 was a great personal achievement. After 23 years in the company I felt it was recognition for my years of service. The fact that I had the support of the wider leadership team and so many colleagues made it a very special time and a seminal moment in my professional career.
That would have to be empathy. Over the years I have worked hard to develop my 'people skills' – being able to connect with our workforce and see things from their perspective is a very important skill; employees recognise it and usually respond.
I developed this skill over the years by listening, observing and learning from those around me. I'm still trying to further develop in this area and will never stop working at it.
The role is 24-hours-a-day so you can never really get away from the job because ultimately you are the MD and the one responsible. That said, I have a great local leadership team who provide incredible support.
Advice for graduates
Work hard (put in the time and effort), listen and learn (that is how you maximise experience) and take every opportunity that comes your way (stretch yourself).
Skills for future leaders
A good leader should be a strong team player with excellent people skills, be in possession of business acumen – ie understand the fundamentals of costs, sales and revenue – and have highly developed communication skills.
How to survive an economic downturn
Listen, learn and work hard. Graduates should also remember that recessions are cyclical – despite current challenges the economy will recover in due course.
Mark Ryan was interviewed for Ireland's 100 leading graduate employers 2010.