Accenture has named Julie Sweet as its new chief executive officer, replacing interim CEO David Rowland, who stepped in after the death of Pierre Nanterme in January. Rowland will become executive chairman.
Please see Fortune‘s Q&A with Nanterme, which appeared in the August 2018 issue.
Sweet is currently CEO for North America, which is the company’s largest market. In that job she played an integral role in transforming the consulting firm into a driving force in the digital transformation of the world’s largest companies. Accenture now serves 92 of the Fortune 100, and three quarters of the Fortune 500.
“We have built Accenture to be a continuous innovation engine for ourselves and for our clients,” Sweet said in an interview with Fortune. The company’s own transformation story is impressive: today 60% of its business is focused on digital and cloud technologies, compared to less than 10% a decade ago. And that record of internal innovation, she says, that enables it to effectively advise other companies on their innovation journeys. Among other things, Sweet championed the creation of a network of 11 “innovation hubs” across the U.S., which is where “we bring innovation to the doorsteps of our clients.”
Accenture has grown into a behemoth in the last decade, with global revenues of more than $40 billion and close to 500,000 employess. As a result, it has become a giant vacuum of young talent, hiring as many as 90,000 in a year. Sweet has also taken a lead more broadly in the business effort to address skills gap in the U.S., and to create a national apprenticeship movement. “We think of ourselves as having an obligation to lead in the communities where we work and live, and to help companies and communities train for the future of work.”
At 51, Sweet could have the opportunity to lead the company for a decade or more. When asked how the company might change over that decade, she said: “It’s almost impossible to predict a decade out any more. What’s important is that you build your company to be able to capture the opportunity as it comes.”
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