Always focused on the goal at hand, Scott Deasy reflects on how upholding a professional rugby career while studying for a degree in finance led him to his role in financial services consultancy.
Did you know a Munster rugby career would have parallels with a financial services consultancy mindset? Scott Deasy knows all about it. He turned in his boots for a new role as management consultant in financial services at Accenture, knowing that this kind of goal-focused teamwork would be worth a try.
In two very different professional worlds, Deasy has applied his values of working on a team, knowing that putting others first will help you achieve your personal goals in the long run. And, when it comes to personal professional development, he keeps learning to stay ahead of the game.
‘Failure is an everyday part of professional rugby, so I have learned how to reset and refocus at speed to prepare for the next opponent or challenge. This skillset is highly applicable to consultancy work’
– SCOTT DEASY
What first stirred your interest in a career in financial services consulting?
I joined Accenture post-retirement from professional rugby with Munster. Elite-level sport focuses on achieving short-term goals while keeping an eye on the long-term game plan. Each week presents a new opponent, with a unique set of challenges, which calls for a custom strategy to be devised, planned and implemented in a short space of time.
This environment excites me and it was something I wanted to replicate throughout my career; hence, consulting felt like the right choice. It is project-based, goal-oriented and all about teamwork – something I felt suited me and the skills I had acquired in my career to date.
What led you to the role you now have?
I completed my bachelor’s in finance at University College Cork, while also juggling my rugby career with Munster. Following my retirement from professional rugby, I went on to achieve my master’s in management from Trinity College.
I joined Accenture in 2014 and, in the spirit of continued learning, decided to take my interest in finance a step further and take on the ACCA qualification while working. I have one exam left so expect to have this finished some time in 2018.
What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?
Rejection or failure is an everyday part of professional rugby, so I have learned how to reset and refocus at speed to prepare for the next opponent or challenge. This skillset is highly applicable to consultancy work – you need to be sharp and agile throughout a project. How the team reacts to unforeseen challenges or changes is often the making or breaking of the project.
The single biggest thing I have learned from both careers is that if you consistently put the team first – ahead of your own personal ambitions – you will be rewarded with trust, further responsibility and, ironically, the achievement of your personal goals.
Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?
I couldn’t single any one person out but there have been so many coaches, colleagues, family members and friends who have helped me along the way. I have always had access to incredible support and advice when I’ve needed it.
What do you enjoy about your job at Accenture?
I enjoy the team aspect the most. The camaraderie and the project-based nature of the work ensures that there is little opportunity for complacency. We are challenged daily, ranging from minor implementation and delivery challenges, to high-level strategic challenges that require intense team and stakeholder engagement to identify solutions and decide on the best course of action.
What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?
Competitiveness and honesty.
Competitiveness because there will be many hurdles in any consultancy career but the competitive instinct in me gives me the drive and resilience to persevere through these challenges and ensure the best results are delivered for the team and, ultimately, the client.
Honesty because I have no problem admitting when I don’t understand something or need something further explained. This can be very beneficial in projects where you need to get up to speed quickly to effect change. When timelines are tight, that candour ensures clarity as to what is expected to drive successful outcomes.
How did Accenture support you on your career path?
Accenture provides a wide range of internal training programmes. We’re encouraged to continually develop and grow our knowledge for our personal development and for the benefit of our clients.
For training that is not covered internally, Accenture also supports external study (provided this adds value to your area of specialisation). They have been extremely supportive of my pursuit of the ACCA qualification, providing both study leave and funding.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in financial services consultancy, or just starting out in one?
Learn the content! Early in your consulting career, you could be included in project teams across different industries (banking, retail, products, government departments), in different geographies (Ireland, the UK, mainland Europe) and across different internal functions (marketing, finance, HR etc), so my key piece of advice would be to invest the time to learn as much about the subject matter as soon as you know you’re going to be part of the project team.
You may feel out of your depth, but trust that the company has the support structures in place to help you along. It’s also important to put in the effort to upskill and increase your knowledge early on if you are to be in the best position to help the client.