He’s been with Accenture for more than 20 years, the last 12 with a focus on serving the U.S. federal government. Throughout, Jerry Briggs has been recognized for expertise in large program management. In the following Q&A, Briggs shares some of the secrets to his longevity at Accenture, managerial best practices, and how he maintains his discipline at the office and beyond.
What are some secrets to your longevity?
Jerry Briggs: Great question. What has kept me with Accenture for the long haul is that we have really great people here. I know it sounds like a cliché but we’ve got exceptionally good people, very motivated. This is a place where you can be recognized for your performance, and that keeps you motivated.
What are some challenges as managing director of Accenture’s government practice?
Jerry Briggs: It’s been a really austere time in terms of the market. We’ve had to come to grips with that in our organization, what we investment in and what kind of work we pursue.
For the past 11 years you focused on the DOD — what impact will a new administration have on your federal contracting space?
Jerry Briggs: Regardless of who wins, we’re going to see a shift based on the new administration’s ideology and priorities. If Obama wins I would expect — and I think everyone would expect — the war in Iraq to be on a more aggressive ramp down than if McCain were to win.
What managerial best practices have helped you steer projects toward successful completion?
Jerry Briggs: From the start, make sure you lock in on what the outcomes are supposed to be for the program.
How big is the practice you manage?
Jerry Briggs: This year we’ll do about just above $1 billion in net revenue. We are right around a $1 billion in business federal.
What’s the best management book you’ve read?
Jerry Briggs: One I found useful is Good to Great. I found the research impressive and compelling. That said, I tend to get more out of books that are more tangential— that aren’t necessarily pure management or written for the purpose of business. They typically have more of a philosophical bent to them than pure management books.
What are some top things you want to accomplish over the next year?
Jerry Briggs: We’ve spent most of the last seven years focused on the war on terror directly or the war in Iraq and the support in Afghanistan. Without predicting where either candidate is going to go we know that both of them are committed to getting back to focus on things on shore here in the United States and paying attention to the priorities of the citizens. What gets me up in the morning is thinking about how we can move forward and seeing where the strategies are for either of the candidates of where we’re going.
What advice would you give a small business that wants to contract with a large corporations like yours?
Jerry Briggs: What I’ve observed other corporations do is carve out a piece of work and say, “OK, Company X, this is your chunk of work.” Then they kind of leave it to those folks to live or die on their own. What we tend to do is bring small businesses into the fabric of our programs and leverage their expertise and knowledge. My advice [to small businesses] is two-fold: seek a way to weave yourself into a program and find large organizations that are willing to contract in a way that is symbiotic and mutually beneficial.
What’s something most people don’t know about you personally?
Jerry Briggs: Couple of things. One is that in order to discipline myself to do exercise I sign up for marathons. That’s kind of my thing that helps me have focus outside of work; it kind of forces me to have a little balance. Plus, I have two boys, I spend most of my weekends with them. And then probably the other thing that people don’t know is that I play music, I play guitar. When I got out of college it fell off and I’ve been doing it a little more lately. I actually do open mic down at a place called Iota Club and Café in Washington, DC. A couple of times a year I sneak down there, but I don’t make a big deal out of it.