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Inside View: Accenture Strategy Consulting

Managing director Peter Lacy suggests there are growing opportunities around sustainability

By  Seb Murray

Fri May 20 2016

Like any good steward of sustainability, Peter Lacy, a boss of Accenture Strategy, loves a dose of his own medicine. “It’s positive luxury,” he smiles, eyes drifting down to his wrists.

In the middle of a One Planet MBA event on floor 27 of London’s eleventh tallest skyscraper, the Walkie Talkie, Peter points to his cufflinks. Donned with a crisp navy blue suit, a diamond white shirt and spotted pocket square, they were craft by ethical retailer Elvis & Kresse from a recycled fire hose.

“It was 30 years old and it saved people’s lives,” Peter laughs. “I love that we saved it from going to a landfill.”

When it comes to sustainability, recycling and much else besides, few deliver more than Peter. He is the managing director of one of the world’s top management consulting firms, after all.

Accenture Strategy, a vast wing of the $70 billion professional services company, is in the vanguard of responsible business. The firm helps organizations, such as Unilever and most of the Fortune 500, pivot their strategies to drive profit while delivering a positive economic, environmental and social impact.

Such triple-bottom-line thinking is what gets Peter’s juices flowing. Amped-up and bubbly, his sticking point is the circular economy — a way of doing business that tries to decouple economic growth from the overuse of resources.

“It’s one of the most disruptive forces we will see,” he says, to spectacular views of the City. “It’s a $4 trillion-plus market opportunity.”

Anyone hoping to secure a job at Peter’s company should have a firm grasp of the concept. Accenture Strategy is one of the foremost employers of MBAs. The firm works closely with the One Planet MBA, and a string of elite business schools, from Wharton and Duke Fuqua of the US to INSEAD in Europe and Singapore.

Zoe McLoughlin, head of consulting at London Business School, says: “There are lots of opportunities at Accenture Strategy.”

Accenture added 53,000 more employees in 2015 and consulting revenue grew by 3% year-over-year to $16.2 billion. Many of the opportunities are in emerging areas such as digital transformation, but sustainability strategy and the like are growing areas too, suggests Peter.

Speaking to BusinessBecause, he says: “We need people at Accenture who can bring a different perspective. There is increasingly a role for this [the circular economy]” in management consulting.

Accenture Strategy values MBAs, Peter adds: “We are the biggest employer of MBAs in the world.”

As a manager for digital transformation at the company, Andrew Whelan knows that better than most. He graduated with an MBA from London’s Cass Business School in 2013, and joined Accenture Interactive, a marketing and advertising unit, a year later.

“AI requires candidates to have a very strong balance of personal and technical skills, and a real passion for their area of expertise,” Andrew says.

He adds: “We proudly employ and collaborate across diverse skill-sets, including design thinking, analytical consulting skills and technical development. Above all we want innovators who are able challenge conventional thinking.”

Meanwhile, Accenture’s Peter believes MBA students, as the world’s future business leaders, will need to shift companies’ strategies from linear value chains to circular ones. By addressing the huge underutilization of natural resources, the circular economy could give companies a competitive advantage. It’s already sprouted disruptive business models — think Airbnb, already valued at $25 billion.

“Business models are key to the success of the circular economy,” he says. “It's a way to re-orient how we do business — globally.”