Diversity is strength, and global professional services firm Accenture walks the talk by hiring non-STEM grads.

Adrian Lim Wei Jin of Accenture Operations counts himself lucky – he has discovered his passion and is getting paid to do it. The 37-year-old loves learning new skills and gaining experiences, as well as helping the less privileged pick up skills to succeed in the workforce.

And he has found the company that allowed him to do both for the past 11 years. A decade may not seem like much but for the computer science graduate, it feels like an eternity. “Every year, I tell myself I am going to update my CV and look at what’s out there,” Lim tells GRADUAN® at his office in Kuala Lumpur. “Then, I get a long-term project, I build good client relationship and I feel I’ve made a difference for the client so I say one more project. Eleven years later, I’m still here,” says Lim.

It’s the diverse views that translate into better value for our clients in terms of idea generation.

Helping Hand

Having started at the bottom as a consultant, Lim is now Managing Director of Accenture Malaysia’s infrastructure services. He is also the lead for the company’s corporate social responsibility programme, Skills to Succeed, that aims to equip poor children with skills that can give them a leg up in the working world by providing them technical support, volunteers and trainers for local groups Teach for Malaysia and Cyber Care. “It’s work-life integration. I am passionate about contributing to society and I’ve been fortunate to have a meaningful career in Accenture that allows me to do it,” says Lim.

For Lim, living out his passion is not just a rule in life but a core value at Accenture and a trait that the firm looks out for in fresh graduates. A 2014 Accenture recruitment video on YouTube lays out what it looks for in fresh graduates. Interestingly, the video states that the company will hire anyone with any degree if he or she has good grades, is smart, innovative, articulate and has leadership capabilities.

On top of these traits, Lim adds passion. “Once you have passion, a solid degree and traits in leadership, Accenture will invest – even in today’s economic climate – in training you both in technical skills and softer skills.”

Going for the Best

Today, the firm’s decision to cast a wider net in terms of getting graduates from any academic background still holds, provided they have the aforementioned traits. The reason, says Lim, is because Accenture – like many award-winning global companies – has discovered that diversity is strength. If Accenture hired only programmers and engineers in line with its main business of offering IT services, then its employees would only generate cookie-cutter solutions, he adds. “We want the best people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or political beliefs. It’s the diverse views that translate into better value for our clients in terms of idea generation. Internally, a good balance of ideas keeps us fresh,” he says.

Accenture does not just design systems for clients but helps them make the mind shift in order to get the most value out of that system. It’s this latter part that requires the social skills lacking in some IT grads, Lim adds. “For instance, how do you convince a 50-something client that digital is the right way to go? You can’t get an IT graduate to do that because he will say, ‘Just use it.’”

As a manager, Lim can offer countless examples of when team members with different backgrounds have found innovative solutions for their clients, which would never have emerged had the team been composed of all-male computer science graduates. There was a time when Lim and his team designed an IT system for a client only to find out that it wasn’t working. It took a female team member from a non-IT background to figure out that the problem lay with how the client was using the system rather than the system itself.

“The easy part is building the technology. The harder part is you need the business strategy, financial guys and whole bunch of different skills to bring value to the client. And that’s always been our philosophy,” says Lim.

When it comes to hiring new graduates, Lim always works with human resources to ensure that they get a diverse mix of people for interviews and not just those with science, technology, engineering and math degrees. In fact, he says he can even find a way to fit a smart, qualified political science graduate in Accenture. “If you did a degree in political science, I would assume you are passionate about affecting change. So, you can start small like how do you bring about a business model change for a client. Or how do you balance an outsourcing project where there will be implications in terms of loss of income. If you are passionate about change, there is a role for you at Accenture,” he concludes.

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