An Interview with an AI Professional at Deloitte Consulting was originally published on Firsthand.
We recently spoke with Morgann Carlon, a Senior Manager in the Applied Artificial Intelligence Practice at Deloitte Consulting LLP, about the best parts of working at Deloitte, the exciting field of AI, and her advice to job seekers interested in exploring career opportunities at one of the world’s leading consultancies.
Vault: Tell us a little bit about yourself: your background, your experience, and how you came to join Deloitte.
Morgann Carlon: My name is Morgann Carlon and I am a Senior Manager in the Applied Artificial Intelligence Practice in Deloitte Consulting LLP. I joined Deloitte out of the University of Minnesota with a BSB in Management Information Systems and Accounting and a Master’s in Accountancy. Throughout college, I networked with Deloitte at various recruiting events and always found the work across the organization to be so interesting and fulfilling.
Vault: What are some of the things that appealed to you most about working at Deloitte before you joined?
MC: It sounds so cliché, but it was always about the people, what kind of work they did, and how they talked about their day-to-day lives. Deloitte really impressed me with the vast array of projects—and how they weaved many different skills into a project, bringing the best talent from across the world to our clients.
I also loved that they spoke about working across a value chain to help their clients. An analytics project wasn’t just about the analytics and the data; it was about how it supported the larger vision and the end goal. The way the recruiting team talked about how important their work was to the end goal was really exciting, because I could see myself adding value to that goal from day one.
Vault: What are some of the best aspects of life at Deloitte: highlights of the job, opportunities to work with clients, the company’s culture, etc.?
MC: When I think about my favorite parts of Deloitte, a number of things come to mind, but the most important of all to me are the big challenges, lifelong friendships, and bringing my authentic self to my work daily. I love what I do because I get to be at the forefront of big problems and help solve them. Some of the biggest challenges can be solved by artificial intelligence, and it is so exciting to use scientific techniques to test hypotheses and see if something can be solved with the available data.
But this would just be a job without the people; my colleagues have become friends for life. I enjoy seeing my teams, having hard conversations that make us better people, and pushing ourselves to be the best that we can be. It is an honor to watch my colleagues grow in their lives and their careers.
And, lastly, and maybe most importantly, is I wake up every day knowing that I can bring my authentic self to the table and that I will be respected and appreciated for that. We build teams that are comprised of a number of skills and talents, and that diversity of thought makes us, and our clients, more successful. I bring my experiences, my strengths, and my thought to the table and nobody else can replicate that, because I am authentically and truly me. And that is so cool!
Vault: Can you tell us a little bit more about the work you do as an analytics professional? How about the work pertaining to cognitive and artificial intelligence?
MC: Being an analytics professional means a lot of things, so really none of my projects are the same! In summary, I use data to drive business decisions and help my clients become insight-driven organizations. This means everything from helping drive new strategies using data, to developing new organizational models and shifting the culture to drive with insight, to developing algorithms that help predict action and prescribe next-best action.
That translates to understanding problems through brainstorming sessions, client interviews, and process observation. It means we research, document and develop use cases. I work with my teams to gather, clean, and explore client data. And we hypothesize and develop tests to challenge hypotheses. And then we conduct standard algorithm development (feature engineering, selection, modeling, model assessment, error analysis, and model ensembling). As a senior manager, I am involved in all of these steps, and my teams work hand in hand to produce quality, accurate, and explainable predictions. We also help client teams understand the work we do so that, when necessary, we can hand off our algorithms to client teams to maintain in production environments.
Vault: How do Deloitte’s key initiatives and capabilities position the firm as a leader in the fields of analytics and AI?
MC: Deloitte truly leads the market in analytics (and I’ll include AI in that definition as well). Our learning and development programs are truly par-none. We have self-service learning pathways that guide practitioners of all levels and skillsets to improve themselves in their free time. We also hosted a 6-month learning curriculum called “Experiential AI” for the entire practice to take trainings and apply their learning to hackathons and car racing scenarios, trying to get people hands-on experiences with AI. We have a Machine Learning Guild and a Cloud Guild for a more personalized, in-depth training and networking program.
I also am really proud of Deloitte’s perspectives on analytics and AI. We bring our strategy and AI-led approach with deep industry experience to deliver solutions to our clients’ biggest problems. It’s always really exciting to be on a team that is comprised of a diverse skillset of people who are creatively solving problems together through our unique experiences. We truly help our clients transform to become insight-driven.
Lastly, our key message for analytics and AI is around the Age of With. We augment our own consultants with digital assets to be stronger and more efficient in our work, reducing human error, and focusing on the most complex tasks. I love that we walk our talk.
Vault: Is there any type of work that’s been particularly exciting to you that’s set your experience with Deloitte apart?
MC: I’m so fortunate to have been a part of a number of amazing, exciting projects. I think one experience that truly stands out for me is one of my more recent projects on a large healthcare client. I was brought on board as an analytics specialist to help our team think through an imminent upskilling effort. During this assessment, I came to identify a gap in the vision for the different leaders; they all were talking a similar language but noted differences. So, I worked with the leader to then build a multi-year analytics strategy. I heard their visions, identified what was needed to meet that vision, and helped bring out the innovation that they all were craving. From this work, I then helped them build out their Artificial Intelligence capabilities, moving them from descriptive analytics to predictive and prescriptive in less than a year. Some of the first use cases we tackled were $500M / year problems and the COVID-19 crisis, big issues that were data intensive. Not only was I able to be a strategic advisor and integral to their AI journey, but I also was contributing to the future of Healthcare. Having successfully productionalized AI in a complex landscape is one of my most exciting adventures so far.
Vault: What has been the biggest highlight of working at Deloitte thus far?
MC: Last fall, I was invited to be a part of Deloitte’s prestigious Manager Advisory Council (MAC). This group of ~20 managers acts as a sounding board and advisor to our Consulting business Management Committee. On the MAC, I was able to make strategic recommendations on some of our biggest initiatives and do so by showing the power of data. It truly goes to show that we are, again, walking the talk on being insight-driven as well. It has been an awesome experience to work alongside some of the greatest managers and being able to share our insights with our most senior partners, who not only listen but also take action. The MAC has been around for many years (back into the 90s) and it highlights Deloitte’s culture of inclusivity, thoughtfulness, and teaming.
Vault: What advice do you have for people looking to pursue a career with Deloitte, specifically in the strategy/analytics practice?
Interviewee: One of the reasons I love Deloitte is the variety of complex work we do, especially in the strategy and analytics space. Our teams are comprised of a variety of skills and backgrounds to provide the best recommendations and algorithms. I think if you are looking to join the practice, make sure you know your passion and where you want to use your skills. That drive and passion is always fun to work around and makes for successful insight-driven teams.
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