Janet Hoffman – Managing Director of Global Retail, Accenture

Director Global Industry Retail, Accenture

The Talent Scout

By Muriel Vega

Janet Hoffman wears more than a couple hats in her job –as managing director of Accenture’s global retail practice. She’s also in charge of looking for new trends in the marketplace and developing strategies – while keeping up with a global staff.

When she started at Accenture 13 years ago, as a manager, she began to understand the importance of clients and their needs – helping her professional success within the company. “I make sure I’m putting clients first and paying enough attention to them, not only to what needs to get done but how to keep those relationships alive,” she says.

Here, she talks to PINK about the importance of nurturing junior employees – and why you should take charge of your own Life/Work balance.

PINK: What’s the key to success?
J.H.: Always seek to learn. Also, reward and recognize the teams that you work with. Keep them motivated and make them part of the winning formula. The other is to know when to take on things I haven’t done before. Having the courage to go out and try new things. Tapping into the network of people within Accenture, to learn and grow myself and help others learn and grow as well.

PINK: Describe your leadership style.
J.H.: My leadership style is very inclusive. I believe that as you lead teams including as many people as are relevant is a winning approach. It helps the individuals improve their career skills and their network as well as deliver the results we have committed to bring to our clients.

PINK: How do you motivate them daily – especially during this hiring phase?
J.H.: One of the keys to success is helping people to be as well aligned as they possibly can be with their career aspirations and their talents. My ability to help unleash their talents and aid them to achieve their aspirations has worked very well. I’m always excited to see people achieving the goals that they personally have established for themselves.

PINK: How do you keep the flow of communication going with such a global staff?
J.H.: To keep the information flowing, we do Telepresence, conference calls, video conferencing and even social networking. Often I travel to see our teams and see our clients to be close to the action. A unique characteristic of Accenture is how global it is and how connected we really are. I focus on relationships with our clients and with my co-workers, my online team and Accenture as a whole.

PINK: What would you say to professional women who are stalled by fear?
J.H.: I really do think the word courage sums it up. It’s really having the courage to believe in yourself and have the courage to ask for help – if you put those two together, you can achieve more than you think you can.

PINK: How do you unleash the talents of your team?
Often times, particularly with some of our more junior employees, they don’t know how good they really are or how much they can accomplish and they’re not clear on what their goals are. I’m good at helping people to assess what their aspirations are and their strengths are as well as their weaknesses. Then working goals and finally taking advantage of the talents they have.

PINK: What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
To have the courage to take risks and to change.

PINK: Why is it important to have a mentor?
I’ve had multiple mentors throughout my career. I wish I had known that it was OK to reach beyond my known network of advisors and mentors when I was first starting out. Calling people for advice who you may not know well or at all is a great way to grow, learn and expand your thinking. I think you can underestimate the benefit of taking the counsel and advice from a mentor.

PINK: What are your best Life/Work balance tips?
I am a strong believer that balance is in the eye of the beholder. The way I try to balance is very different than the next person. It’s an individual definition. Quite frankly, I think it’s an individual responsibility to make that Work/Life balance happen. If you don’t ask or don’t communicate when you have the need, you can be frustrated with what your balance looks like. The best person to change that is yourself. The biggest thing about Work/Life balance is that people are looking for someone else to solve it, when in fact you are the best person to define it and make it happen.

PINK: What do you do to relax when you’re not working?
I love the outdoors and hiking. I’m also a big fan of good friends, good food and good wine. And, surprisingly, with all my work travel I still love to travel for pleasure. In fact, I recently went to Greece for vacation and it was wonderful.

PINK: What’s your workplace pet peeve?
When people ‘cc other people who don’t need to be there – you end up being part of a long, long e-mail chain.

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