Accenture Ireland’s payments practice lead for strategy and consulting, Mark Quigley, reflects on his career to date.
Mark Quigley first entered the world of consulting at 18. Now, having spent the past two decades in the industry, he has become the payments practice lead for strategy and consulting at Accenture Ireland.
Here, he talks about his career path from intern to fintech leader, and the three core elements he attributes his success to – adaptability, willingness to learn and building new relationships.
‘I feel there’s a real opportunity now to deliver impactful change to people’s lives across multiple fronts’
– MARK QUIGLEY
What first stirred your interest in a consulting and fintech career?
I was introduced to the world of consulting at the young age of 18, when I stumbled across an advertisement to join Accenture as an intern before going to university. Not quite sure what I wanted to be, I very much took a ‘why not?’ attitude to it and, as luck would have it, I got a position and headed to London. From the early days of my internship I saw that consulting provided an opportunity to do a wide variety of roles and allowed for future careers to go in any direction – the bursary to go travelling that came with the consulting internship also helped.
Fast-forward 20 years, I have lived, worked and experienced all of what I expected from those youthful days I spent watching consultants work hand-in-glove with clients to solve some of their biggest problems. Every day I still learn something new, especially from the amazingly talented people around me. But most importantly, I still get the same enjoyment and challenge working in the industry today.
Throw in Covid-19 and the urgency and added complexity it presents around digital transformation, and it has really never been more interesting.
What experiences led you to the role you now have?
Looking back, my internship was pivotal as it gave me the experience to quickly adapt to new environments, learn new skills and build new relationships. With every new role I have taken on throughout my career so far, success has always been centred around these three things.
Throughout my 16 years in Accenture I have had many roles in financial services, most of which connect together to bring me to where I am today as the payments lead for Accenture in Ireland – something I can genuinely say is the best role I have had in my career yet.
What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?
A career (or day!) in consulting has no shortage of surprises and challenges but, as is often said, with every challenge comes a great opportunity. And, luckily for me, I’ve had great colleagues and clients to work through those challenges with and to learn from.
It is in the nature of the job to be solving problems, but I’ve always found that having a clear objective that everyone is bought into, with clear roles and responsibilities across the team, is crucial in that regard.
More specifically in my specialty area, the payments industry is leading the way in innovation within financial services with a huge amount of fintechs entering the space. So, making sure my knowledge of the emerging market and technology trends is fresh and up to date is key.
For example, the motor industry is working to embed payments into our cars to pay directly for fuel at the pump, for food at drive-throughs and more. It’s case studies like this that I need to be aware of as and when they arise so I can bring the latest innovation and thinking to my clients.
Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?
I’ve had many many mentors at different points in my career, so rather than disappoint some people by not mentioning them, I’ll disappoint them all by mentioning no one! I’m a firm believer that you can learn something from everyone.
That said, I’ve borrowed a lot of techniques and tips from all the masters of the trade and pride myself on making the time to provide support and guidance to others in my team.
What do you enjoy about your job?
It’s a cliché, but primarily it’s the people I work with day to day and their level of professionalism and work ethic which helps me be at my best.
Also, the variety of business problems that we help our clients solve gives me a continual challenge and sense of reward. It goes without saying that we’re in a time like no other and that the demand for change is only going to accelerate. I feel there’s a real opportunity now to deliver impactful change to people’s lives across multiple fronts, such as delivering real-time payments, extending the ubiquity of digital wallets and strengthening cybersecurity to protect against fraud or supporting cloud journeys.
What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?
I’m calm and collected under pressure – or so I’m told. Whether that is true or not, being able to provide a clear path through a problem and making those around you feel confident and empowered to do their jobs when the pressure is mounting is crucial for my role.
I also really like people; I like getting to know them and what’s going on in their lives, but also where their strengths lie from a professional perspective. Playing to the strengths of everyone on the team always makes for a more successful outcome, so it is important that this is not overlooked.
Finally, I’m studious by nature and recognise the importance of continually evolving and developing my point of view on how emerging technologies can be leveraged to deliver value.
How did Accenture support you on your career path?
Accenture is a company that encourages and supports all its people to push themselves to learn, develop and grow. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to take on multiple roles within the organisation. The company’s forward-thinking and innovative philosophy has allowed me to stretch my network and area of expertise in the payments space and others.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?
Take risks to learn and grow. What would you do if fear wasn’t a factor?