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Accenture Names Julie Sweet CEO

Sweet has been CEO of Accenture North America and has been with the company for more than nine years. She is expected to take over in September.

Technology services giant Accenture -- which has been without a permanent leader since beloved top executive Pierre Nanterme passed away earlier this year – announced that Julie Sweet will be the company’s new CEO, the first woman to take on that role in the firm’s history.

Sweet has been chief executive officer of Accenture North America, leading Accenture’s business in the United States, and has been with the company for more than nine years. She is expected to take over in September.

“Julie is the right person to lead Accenture into the future, given her strong command of our business and proven ability to drive results in our largest market,” said current interim CEO David Rowland. “We are on a positive growth trajectory at Accenture and are very well-positioned to continue building on our strong momentum. I am so pleased and proud that Julie will lead our company, and I am excited to work with her — along with our entire senior leadership team — to ensure a seamless transition and on Accenture’s next phase of growth and market leadership.”

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Rowland – the former CFO who stepped in to lead the company after Nanterme passed in January -- will stay on as chair of the board of directors, act as an adviser to Sweet and be involved in Accenture’s long-term business strategy.

According to a statement, Sweet was Accenture’s general counsel, secretary and chief compliance officer for five years, serving as principal counsel to senior leadership and the board of directors, and was actively involved in executing the company’s M&A strategy and many of its largest and most complex commercial transactions.

Marge Magner, currently non-executive chair of the board, will resume her role as lead independent director.

“Julie has the leadership track record and breadth of business experience we believe are critical to lead Accenture, including the ability to forge major client relationships, a strong focus on leading with innovation, commitment to our people and core values, and a focus on delivering value to shareholders,” Magner said. “Speaking on behalf of the board, we look forward to working closely with Julie as chief executive officer.”

Nanterme, who had been CEO since 2011, was diagnosed with colon cancer in July 2016 and underwent surgery shortly thereafter. At the time, Nanterme said that he would “be able to stay actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the company throughout this process.”

During his time as CEO, Accenture’s net revenue grew 55 percent from $25.5 billion in fiscal 2011 to $39.6 billion in fiscal 2018, while the company’s market cap increased approximately $70 billion to $108 billion through August 2018, for a total return to shareholders of 309 percent, the company said in a statement.

Kelly Ireland, who 18 years ago founded CB Technologies, Orange, Calif. one of the top solution providers in the country, said Sweet’s appointment is a sign of the times.

“There are more women than ever before that are getting the top jobs in technology, manufacturing and other businesses,” she said. “More women are being considered for these top jobs whereas they weren’t before. That change has been embraced by both men and women. There are a lot of men that are extremely supportive because hey see the benefit diversity provides. There are exceptional advantages for companies that embrace diversity.”

That said, Ireland said the key to success for any company is picking the best person for the job. “You want the best candidate for these jobs,” she said. “I don’t want people to respect my company because it is female led. I want people to respect my company for the value we bring to the market.”

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