How have female CEO’s risen to the top? What was their journey? Let’s explore…
I’m empowered. I have the skills. I’m ready to take on the world. Now, if I could just figure out tangible steps to get there. This series has two purposes: to celebrate women’s accomplishments in business, and to research their path to success.
Notable things you should know about Julie Sweet:
1) CEO of Accenture, a professional services company that provides consulting in strategy, digital, technology, and operations.
2) Under her leadership, Accenture significantly increased parental leave benefits, increased transparency by publicly publishing demographics of its workforce to promote diversity and inclusion, and shifted the company to a Performance Achievement approach that provides feedback for Accenture's 50,000 employees.
3) Sweet led the creation of a network of 11 Innovation Hubs across the U.S. for Accenture
4) She serves on the Board of Directors of Catalyst, a global nonprofit focused on women’s equality at work
She pledged her company will have true gender equality by 2025
Sweet recently went from CEO of Accenture's business in North America, to CEO of the entire organization globally in September 2019.
Julie Sweet grew up in Orange County, CA. Her father painted cars for a living and didn’t graduate from high school. Her mother was a beautician and decided to go to college when Julie was in 8th grade to help better the family’s future. Julie Sweet came from humble beginnings and got her first job at 14 to help her parents financially.
Sweet went to college at Claremont McKenna College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. She knew she wanted to be a lawyer since she was in 8th grade, so when she was a senior in undergrad her professor set up an informational interview with a lawyer. She was sold.
Sweet went on to graduate with a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School.
She immediately jumped into her first position as a lawyer at Cravath, Swaine, & Moore. When she interviewed, she knew the old school firm had very few female partners, but it was the best firm she was considering so she went there anyway.
In 1999 Sweet was named the ninth woman partner of the firm. Her gamble paid off. She paid it back by launching the company’s first women’s program at the firm. Now Cravath has 25 percent women partners, a vast improvement in 20 years!
Most people never leave Cravath, but Sweet took another gamble and took a recruiter’s phone call from Accenture. She was convinced to take the position as General Counsel at Accenture. 5 years later she become CEO of North America. Then 5 years after that she became CEO of the entire organization.
My takeaways about her path to CEO: 1) Education helps! Even though her parents didn’t have a college degree, most of our CEO’s with humble beginnings had family that valued education for their children. Julie Sweet must have had good grades to get into Columbia Law School. Going to a school with a good pedigree opens doors to opportunities. 2)She makes gender equality a priority at every company she goes to. She creates long term relationships by proving her worth over time, then affects change from a position at the top.