Honestly, the Experience section of Christina Raab’s LinkedIn profile does not do her justice. “Managing Director Accenture, Oct 2000 – Present,” the one lonely listing reads.
“Yes,” laughs Christina. “One company for almost 20 years, that’s my career and no one is as surprised as I.”
After realizing at age 14 that, however hard she trained, she would not become a ballerina, Christina had no idea what she wanted to do in life. She resisted the gentle pressure of her father, a judge, to go into law and interned at Audi in her hometown of Ingolstadt in central Bavaria while completing a degree in economics and languages before starting at Accenture.
“I was never interested in consultancy and never meant to stay,” Christina explains. “But it turned out I liked it. Having only ever had one job may sound boring, but consultancy offers variety, so it has been like having 10 different jobs over the years.”
For much of that time, she has helped transform manufacturing firms, particularly in the automotive industry, to meet the challenges of the digital era. “It was probably my time at Audi that inspired me, but I have always been fascinated by production processes and the emotions invoked by tangible products,” she says.
During her early years, Christina was usually the only woman in the room from either the client side or from Accenture. It was a very “male” environment, she recalls, but you were accepted if you conformed in terms of how to dress, the status symbols you displayed, and the way you balanced work and private life.
“That has been one of the most dramatic changes I have seen,” she says. “Not only are women far more present, but there is greater acceptance of diversity and the strengths that brings… When people don’t feel compelled to fit in, they open up and expand what they bring to the table, which helps drive innovation and creativity–and that is as freeing for men as it is for women.”
What is surprising in Christina’s life is its contradictions. Although she leads a team of 100 focused on digital transformation, in her spare time she paints and sculpts, feeling a need to create physical objects. And although much of her work has been in the automotive industry, she has never owned a car.
“That was unfathomable for people 18 years ago,” she acknowledges, “but I love mobility. Now that is the trend, so much so that people in the car industry grill me about my motivations to the point I feel like a one-source of market research on the topic.”
Now responsible for the Accenture portfolio of projects and services for a consumer goods firm, Christina still has no thought of a career switch.
“I love these long-term engagements where I can become emotionally involved and look back over 12 months and see that I have really made a real difference.”
The one word that peppers the conversation is passion. Passion about her work, her travels, and art. It is good to hear that she has again taken up ballet. Although, she laughs, “I know I will never be great at it, but I love it and it remains my first passion.”Tags: Accenture, Consulting, Germany, Insights, Manager, Skills, Strategy