Article by Sophia Wu (Q18) and Amy Zhou (Q16)
Get out of bed, put on a suit, and be at the College Park Metro Station by 8:00AM. This is what every senior QUEST student’s mental checklist looked like on the morning of September 21st. We didn’t know it at the time, but this mental checklist was going to become much more comprehensive as we entered the fast-paced world of consulting. On this sunny Friday, the senior QUEST students had the opportunity to participate in the annual Accenture-QUEST Senior Retreat.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a delicious breakfast spread before being shuffled into a lecture room for our first presentation, which focused on important consulting practices, such as how to properly communicate with clients, how to conduct meetings, and the different techniques one can employ to reach your end goal. One interesting aspect of this discussion was learning that there are 4 different types of clients (Driver, Amiable, Expressive and Analytical), and that the communication that occurs during client meetings differs based on which client you are meeting with. For example, if your client is classified as a Driver, important information should be shared as soon as the meeting starts, since they prefer to get things done.
This initial presentation turned out to be a critical part of the day as we transitioned onto the next assignment: a mock consulting simulation. For this assignment, we split up into our 490H teams and met with Accenture consultants who posed as our clients for the day. Each client embodied one of the four different client personality types, and teams were given the opportunity exercise their meeting skills with new clients. In addition to this, we were also given a chance to learn how to adapt to change as our mock projects were subjected to scope creep, revelations of new information, and lack of information.
Lastly, in an ideas exchange we discussed our current 490H projects with Accenture consultants and received feedback on project scope and potential issues. As QUEST alumni in full-time consulting, the Accenture representatives were able to provide valuable advice on our roadblocks and new perspectives on the scope. As a result, this session was my favorite out of all the activities.
As the day drew to a close, each team presented a few lessons learned from the day’s events. From the quality presentations and fellow cohort member testimonies, I think I can safely say that we all felt more comfortable about being consultants and more confident about our 490H projects after the retreat. To put it simply, the Accenture Senior Retreat was action-based learning at its best.