Accenture names new Columbus leader

Jess Deyo
Paula O'Reilly

Paula O’Reilly has been named managing director for Accenture's Columbus office. 

O’Reilly, who has been with the global consulting firm for nearly 30 years, will oversee nearly 900 employees within the office.

When O’Reilly started at Anderson Consulting, today known as Accenture, in 1993, she had recently graduated from Bowling Green State University, where she studied finance and international business. She had what she called a “traditional” start at the company — she worked with clients, established relationships, and seized every opportunity for growth.

Over the years she accepted many roles, from managing capital markets to overseeing a large banking client. From the very beginning of her time with the company, she was focused on the finance industry, and over time, she became a master of her field.

Most recently, O’Reilly served as the Midwest Financial Services Lead, a position she held for nearly two years. In her role, she handled banking, insurance, and capital markets for clients spread across her region.

Now, O’Reilly will now center her focus to the Columbus office, while continuing as a Midwest lead. In Ohio, Accenture has three offices: Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. As a part of her new role, which she began in Dec. 2020, she will serve as the face for the office and an advocate for her staff.

In her day-to-day, O’Reilly faces a unique challenge trying to foster relationships with new clients and team members during a time when the closest form of contact is through a screen. The biggest challenge has been bringing people together, she says.

“I love working with our people, and I want people to want to work here,” O'Reilly says. “I just can’t wait to be able to meet with people in person and get back to really building those personal relationships.”

For O’Reilly, her love for people was a major factor in her choice to accept the position, but it also came as second nature. Over her time at Accenture, there were moments she felt like she wasn’t ready for the new opportunities she was presented with, she laughs, however, she insists that Accenture knew she was ready, perhaps before she did.

“When my Midwest boss called me and said, ‘Hey, we want you to take on the Columbus office, in addition to your current responsibilities,’ I thought, ‘Great, yes,’” O’Reilly says, “I feel like Accenture knows before I do that I’m ready to go off and do something in addition (to my role), or something new.”

O’Reilly has several plans in store for her new role, but first and foremost, she wants to make sure she takes the time to get to know each of her teammates individually and learn more about how they can be supported, a process she calls the “listening tour.”

Also a priority to O’Reilly is the employee resource groups she has created to help provide support to underrepresented communities. The top four of these groups are the African American, Hispanic, women, and military communities, she says. For each group, O’Reilly will assess the ways they can be further supported and uplifted.

For O’Reilly, all of these efforts are to help with not only personal growth, but growth in the Columbus community as well. As the new office managing director, she hopes to show the city that Accenture is ready to be a major player.

“We want to play a role in the Columbus community and continue to grow and to continue to help clients here be successful,” O’Reilly says. “We want to be part of the landscape of this community, and I think that we have the size and the scale to do that — I just don't think people often realize that we're here. We're very committed to Columbus, and we want to be part of the overall story.”