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Accenture’s Sweet: ‘The Power Of The Team’ Key To Future

‘At Accenture we have never been about one person, but always about the power of the team. Together we have achieved market-leading results. We are committed to building an ever-stronger Accenture in the years ahead,’ incoming CEO Julie Sweet told investors Friday morning.

Accenture’s incoming CEO, Julie Sweet, told investors Friday morning to expect her to stick to the playbook that has made the technology solutions company the juggernaut it is today.

“I approach running North America as we have approached running Accenture, and it really is all about the power of the team,” she said during her first public comments after the announcement Thursday that she has been appointed CEO. “We have an exceptional team in North America, which is demonstrated in the results. We have an exceptional global team that I’ve been working with side-by-side and so what you should expect from me is a continuation of a long tradition. Accenture is about having an exceptional, broad leadership team, and I’m super excited to continue to work with this team. As part of that, you can expect a seamless transition.”

Sweet is the first female CEO in the company’s history and follows in the footsteps of former CEO Pierre Nanterme, a transformational leader who grew Accenture net revenue 55 percent from $25.5 billion in fiscal 2011 to $39.6 billion in fiscal 2018. During his tenure, the company’s market cap increased approximately $70 billion to $108 billion through August 2018, for a total return to shareholders of 309 percent. Since Nanterme’s resignation in January and his death three weeks later, CFO David Rowland has been the interim CEO.

Rowland—who celebrated 36 years with the company Thursday—will step into the role of executive chairman of the board once Sweet is installed as CEO in September.

“I’m incredibly excited about continuing to play a key role as executive chairman of the board. In addition to chairing the board, I’ll be actively involved with Julie and the entire leadership team as we execute our strategy and continue to drive significant value for our clients, our shareholders and our people. From my perspective, this is an exciting time for our company. Accenture is on a positive growth trajectory and is well positioned for continued success. We have the best clients, the best people, a leading brand, global reach and extraordinary depth and breadth of service.”

Sweet, 51, has been with the company for more than nine years and worked as general counsel before being promoted to CEO of North America, where she oversaw Accenture’s largest geographic region. Rowland said her leadership in that role has strengthened the company.

“She’s personally led our engagement in the C-suite of some of our largest global clients,” he said . “At the same time, she led our strategy to focus on local markets, given her unique perspective on how Accenture brings all the parts of our business together to execute our strategy on the ground each day. In addition, Julie is laser-focused on innovation, which is reflected in our leadership in building a network of 11 innovation hubs across North America to co-create with our clients and bring them the most relevant and cutting-edge solutions.”

[Related: 5 Things To Know About Accenture Interim CEO David Rowland]

Accenture has leveraged Sweet’s background as a top corporate lawyer for roles on Accenture’s Global Management Committee, as its chief compliance officer, and principal counsel to senior leadership to shape its path forward . In fact, Sweet said one of the first things she worked on when she joined Accenture was developing an M&A strategy with Nanterme and Rowland that could sustain growth for years to come.

“What’s been the proven strategy that really we’ve been executing for years now is to think of inorganic growth as an engine for organic growth,” Sweet said. “And it’s focused on three things: scaling in the hot areas of the market; new capabilities—look what was achieved by the leadership team of Accenture Interactive over the last several years; and then, of course, accessing deep industry and functional expertise. That has been a proven strategy and we expect to continue to execute on that.”

One analyst asked that given the team approach to leading the 480,000-employee global company, what steps had benn taken by the board to retain the CEO candidates who were not selected. Rowland said the board is highly engaged with company management and is not expecting any surprises.

“This is a transition that we’ve gone through twice before since we’ve been a public company,” Rowland said. “If you look at our track record previously, I would expect that the experience we will have with this transition will be similar to the experience we had with the last couple transitions.”

Sweet said Rowland has positioned the company for continued growth for years to come.

“I am truly honored to lead this great company,” Sweet said. “I want to thank the board of directors for their confidence and trust. I also want to thank our exceptional senior leadership team. At Accenture we have never been about one person, but always about the power of the team. Together we have achieved market- leading results. We are committed to building an ever-stronger Accenture in the years ahead.”

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