AAPAC (Africa, Middle East & Asia Pacific) Contract Management Lead
Arlene has over 20 years’ experience as a Contract and Commercial Management leader that thrives on creatively solving complex problems and building strong relationships based on trust and respect. She has worked across a broad range of industries and geographies including Outsourcing and Technology programs as well as the Sports Management & Marketing fields. She has a proactive and positive approach with a drive for excellence and exceeding expectations by making the best use of her communication and negotiation skills that focus on integrity and enthusiasm for achieving long term success for everyone.
Arlene is the Director of Contract Management, Growth Markets (Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific) at Accenture. In this role, she works with a talented and diverse group of 300 people across the Growth Markets and over 200 people in Accenture’s Delivery Centers in Asia Pacific managing contracts with an annual value of over $10bn. She is passionate about expanding the overall team capabilities while leveraging their strengths and interests to enable them to bring the best of themselves to work every day. She coaches the team to unleash their potential through a combination of commitment to service excellence to the business and our clients and by challenging the status quo.
Her top 5 Gallup strengths are: Positivity – Individualization – Empathy – Developer – Winning Others Over
What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the world of commerce and contracting?
I have a sales and marketing background and before Accenture I worked for a sports marketing and management company in the US. I worked for an agent focussed on recruiting athletes and negotiating player contracts, endorsements and marketing deals. The industry heavily relies on trusted relationships to influence the right outcomes for everyone involved. It was an incredible experience but I was ready for a lifestyle change when I took on an opportunity in Technology Consulting. It doesn’t take long to figure out applying relationship building skills and strong commercial acumen and discipline to any contract – no matter what goods/services you are buying or selling – are the same. Transitioning from sports to technology wasn’t easy at first but I have loved it – the work I’m involved in is innovative and has such a positive impact to the communities we work and live in; it gives me a great sense of purpose and fulfillment.
What are two personal achievements and contributions through your career.
I’m proud of my career and what I’ve been able to accomplish, especially since I’ve been in Australia where I feel like I’ve become more comfortable and confident with my leadership style. I’ve always had a focus on people, their growth, development and motivations, because I’ve learned the rest will just follow. That includes enabling the team to be the best of themselves – at home and at work and affording them that flexibility. That also involves creating an inclusive and diverse environment – which happens very naturally across the globally distributed portfolio I manage that spans from Latin America to New Zealand, the depth and breadth of cultural richness is one of the best parts of my role. Finding the best talent and working with them to forge meaningful careers – that intersect with their passions and strengths – in real world applications has been meaningful for me and creates a lot of value for our clients.
Another area that I think best illustrates the impact I’ve had has been elevating the team’s positioning and having the value they deliver recognised by our business partners and clients; driving commercial acumen initially in the US and then to A/NZ but now more broadly across Accenture’s emerging markets. The past six months have been a great example, where not surprisingly, the role of the contract and commercial managers has never been more important. I think Accenture and the Contract Management team have done an amazing job navigating and simplifying the challenges throughout COVID to continue high performance delivery for our clients in a very seamless way. I have managed teams remotely since 2008 and we have been early adopters of virtual technology, noting the disperse geographic nature of our business and our people have driven this as a norm for many years. Now more than ever it has held us in good stead.
Covid-19 has illustrated the critical importance of helping women to realise their professional aspirations - what role have you played or are you currently playing within your organization to support women in their roles?
Accenture has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies – for the 13th year in a row – our actions speak louder than words, we prioritise ethical behaviour as a means to improve our communities, while enhancing business performance. Responsible business and inclusion and diversity are core values I practice daily and are needed more than ever. I have always tried to do my best to create and sustain a culture of equality where everyone can advance and thrive.
It's so true that helping women to realise their professional aspirations are critically important and this has been highlighted even more over the last six months. There is no doubt that Accenture’s ability to respond effectively to the current crisis has been enhanced though the diversity in the company as a whole and in the global leadership group in particular. Julie Sweet, Accenture’s first female CEO, along with the increased presence of females in the executive leadership team across the globe - those female voices have helped the entire organisation understand that the current crisis can only be dealt with effectively by displaying strength, compassion, understanding and foresight. We are taking advantage of the collaborative problem-solving skills of the whole organisation - never have the benefits of diversity been more apparent
Not surprisingly many normal business processes are under stress at the moment including the time allocated to professional development and recognition of achievements. It would be very easy during this period to cut corners and stop focusing on promoting inclusion and diversity outcomes. My role running a globally distributed team is to protect these outcomes and make sure my organisation’s commitment to diversity is maintained now more so than ever. I invest a lot of time and energy mentoring and coaching not only women but BIPOC as early as elementary school through university and in their careers and not only in technology. Whilst we might not be in a position to promote and support aspirational achievement quite as effectively as we always have during this crisis, it’s important to ensure the critical foundation conversations are still occurring and that the women and BIPOC in my team are being positioned to realise their aspirations effectively as possible as we emerge out of the COVID crisis. This work is key to the role that I have as a leader in my organisation right now.