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Accenture spots leaders of tomorrow in colleges today

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Accenture spots leaders of tomorrow in colleges today

Accenture spots leaders of tomorrow in colleges today
February 16
15:42 2015

Award for aspiring Irish entrepreneurs has attracts 88 third-level applicants

Some 88 entries from high-performing third-level students have been received for this year’s Accenture Leaders of Tomorrow award. The award offers students the chance to submit a business idea which with coaching and development can be turned into a viable business concept.

All of the successful applicants get to take part in a series of leadership development days focusing on the connected themes of entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. The competition exposes applicants to professional development opportunities, inspirational guest speakers and one-to-one business mentoring.

Those who make it through to the final round get the opportunity to develop and present your business idea to a highly prestigious panel. The winners receive a place on the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) LaunchPad programme, where they will have the opportunity to turn their business concept into reality. They will also receive a trip to one of Accenture’s global innovation centres and will have the option of an internship with the firm.

“Entries are up 35 per cent on last year and this is very encouraging”, says AccentureIreland country managing director Alistair Blair.

“They came from colleges and institutes of technology across the country and, very interestingly, we had four teams this year made up from multiple colleges. The entrepreneurship message is definitely out there and there is very strong interest in start-ups among third-level students.

“I was out in San Jose recently and the Irish are all over Silicon Valley involved in a whole range of start-up and early stage companies. I think what we are seeing is a change in attitude. There is a recognition that it’s okay to fail and that it’s just part of business life. In the valley it’s very much the norm for business owners to have failed at least once. They are very comfortable with that there and we are starting to adopt that attitude in Ireland now as well.”

Emerging technologies

This year’s crop of entrants are developing products across a range of industries from finance and payments to goods, services, health and social responsibility, according to Blair: “Many include the development of interesting and useful apps which put the consumer at the heart of development but there is also a move towards other products based on new and emerging technologies.”

While only one team can win all of the participants gain from it, “the process is very important”, says Blair.

“The award competition takes place over three rounds. The aim of these rounds is to provide participants with the opportunity to develop their business idea in a number of ways. They get to develop their business idea into a business plan and pitch to Accenture senior management.

“And those that get to the final on March 23rd participate in a series of development days before pitching their business proposal to a panel of Irish business leaders.”

The fact that two of last year’s entries that did not win are now close to commercial reality as businesses is evidence of the process’s value. Blair also points out that the ambition of the overall winners may not lie in starting a business immediately.

“For example, last year’s winners decided not to proceed with developing their business idea but to take up the option of an internship with Accenture instead. They can always go back to their idea at a later stage.”

He is very pleased with the overall quality of this year’s judging panel where he is joined by Irish Times managing director Liam Kavanagh, NDRC venture acceleration vice-president Gary Leyden, RSA chief financial officer Kerry McConnell, Government chief information officer Michael McGrath, LinkedIn senior director of international operations Sharon McCooey and Ciaran Coyle of Ulster Bank.

“We are delighted that these people have decided to give their time to the competition. They come from a wide range of sectors and bring vast experience and expertise which they will be able to share with the finalists,” says Blair.

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