Accenture CEO Tara Brady departs ANZ due to travel restrictions

11 October 2021 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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After taking over the role in just September last year, Accenture ANZ CEO Tara Brady has resigned due to Covid-related travel difficulties, with Peter Burns named as his successor.

Accenture’s top boss in Australia is pulling the pin after barely a year in the job, with Tara Brady to be replaced by recent Strategy& recruit Peter Burns. As reported by the AFR – which only recently named Brady the most powerful consultant in Australia – the chief executive’s premature departure is a result of his family having had to return to the UK and uncertainty around Australia’s international borders and strict quarantine requirements.

“It’s going to be sad because I feel the momentum has just started. [The firm] is a great place at the moment and thinking of some of the drama that I took on and how great the team feels, it’s a shame,” Brady told the publication. “It’s because of the travel uncertainty. If at the end of October I could simply fly out and then back, no quarantine, it’d be fine. But this travel uncertainty is going to go on for a while and it’s unique to Australia.”

Tara Brady, Outgoing CEO, Accenture

Brady, who was a partner at financial services management consultancy Capco prior to joining Accenture in his native UK in 2013, was brought in to oversee the firm’s ANZ division in September of last year – just as the professional services giant declared that it would be slashing 5 percent of its half a million headcount worldwide, or the equivalent of 250 jobs in Australia. There was also the small matter of an ongoing global pandemic.

As could be expected, the latter issue has had a significant impact on his tenure, both in terms of challenges, and opportunities. Firstly, along with economic and business uncertainty, Australia’s extended international border closures in response to Covid-19 have served to create a severe talent shortage among Australia’s largest professional services firms. On the flip side, the pandemic hastened widespread digital transformations – Accenture’s sweet spot.

As to the talent squeeze, Brady set out from the get-go to aggressively pursue top-line professionals from rival firms – among them four ex-Big Four partners and directors recruited as managing directors last month and more recently a pair of senior leaders from IBM. Notable was the deliberate strategic focus on enhancing the firm’s advisory capacity – resulting in a reversal of the previous 60-40 percent revenue share of tech delivery to consulting.

Altogether, Accenture’s local headcount has jumped by 20 percent to 6,000, with revenue growth in the double digits and now believed to be just shy of the $2.6 billion take delivered by PwC this year. A portion of that growth can be attributed to five companies acquired by Accenture under Brady’s watch – including cloud tech consultancy Industrie&Co in May in a deal reportedly worth up to $50 million. The firm has also benefited from federal government largesse.

Among those brought in to beef up Accenture’s advisory capacity was former Strategy& partner Peter Burns, who will now assume the CEO role from Brady after a rapid rise to the top rung of his new employer. Joining in just April of this year – after three decades in a number of senior leadership roles at PwC’s Strategy& and predecessor Booz & Company – Burns was quickly elevated to head of Accenture’s Financial Services division for ANZ.