Casey Wells is a Senior Managing Director at Accenture, a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud, and security powered by practitioners that specialize in Strategy and Consulting, Technology and Operations Services, and Accenture Song (creative, design, and marketing technology). Casey leads the North America Products Industry Group that delivers comprehensive solutions to companies in the life sciences, retail, consumer goods, travel, industrial, automotive, and aerospace & defense industries. She is a strong advocate for diversity and talent development, constantly working to create purpose-driven environments to attract the next generation of leaders. In her free time, she loves to cook, read, and play tennis & golf with her two sons and husband, Mark. Casey has been a member of C200 since February 2023.
Eva Glassman: Could you please introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Casey Wells: I’m a Senior Managing Director at Accenture. I lead a part of our business in the North America focused on delivering a wide range of services to companies that are in the Products Industry Group, which is made up of seven industries: life sciences, retail, consumer goods and services, industrial, auto and mobility, aerospace and defense, and travel. I work with teams across Accenture to help our clients on their journeys to transforming and improving their businesses, whether through consulting and advisory services, technology implementations, back or front office operations, or even in their manufacturing operations. Our teams also help clients consider how they are engaging with their customers through marketing, customer experience, and communications.
EG: What’s your day-to-day like specifically?
CW: There are no two days that are alike! I am typically meeting with clients and/or working with our project teams every day. That can take many forms; sometimes we meet virtually, sometimes in either our client’s or Accenture’s offices. Sometimes, I could be working and meeting with one client all day, and sometimes I could be meeting with different clients and teams every hour. I love the variety and the fast-paced nature of the job, which is why I have been doing this for almost 30 years!
EG: Could you describe your journey to where you are now? What do you believe is the most significant factor in your career success?
CW: I started my career at Accenture right out of college—literally days after I graduated—as a practitioner providing consulting services to clients in what we now call change management or talent and human performance areas of work. I was helping clients with training, change management, and communications typically associated with large systems implementation projects. Throughout my career, I’ve really been fortunate in that I’ve been able to pivot through all the different types of service lines we provide to our clients. I’ve been a technologist, a strategist, I’ve even helped run back-office operations. I’ve done a little bit of everything!
Most of my time was spent serving in the utility industry—your electric, gas, or water utilities that supply services to your home or business. I offered them consulting, technology, operational, and strategic services for about twenty-five years. I played all kinds of roles, from a practitioner helping to manage the relationship between Accenture and the client (we call that a client account lead), to a role like the one I have today: operating across multiple industries, managing the P&L. At one point I was even the global utility industry lead, so I led our utilities work across the globe for that industry.
Then, I was fortunate enough to lead our Strategy and Consulting business here in the Northeast of the US. That team provides advisory services to all nineteen industries that Accenture serves, plus all the functional areas we provide services for. That was a really interesting experience because it gave me a much broader view outside of the industry I had been working in and exposed me to much more.
Then, about two years ago, I was asked to take on this role, leading our products industry teams here in the Northeast United States. I’ve been doing that for the past two years, and very recently, I was asked to look after our products teams across North America. I work with folks that look after other regions like the South, Midwest, West, and Canada to ensure they have the best of Accenture working with their clients and teams. It’s been a very interesting journey!
All along the way, I’ve lived in the Metro New York area with my boys. I have a fourteen-year-old son who is a rising freshman in high school, a nineteen-year-old son who is a rising freshman in college, a four-legged Sheepadoodle boy named Harrison, and my biggest boy is my husband Mark, who takes care of us all. Typically, on the weekends, Mark and I run around with the kids to keep everyone busy, whether we’re going to a tennis court or a golf course, and trying to get ready for the following week.
EG: That’s incredible that you’ve been working for Accenture since you graduated from college!
CW: A big part of the longevity of my career at Accenture is that I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to reinvent myself and my areas of focus multiple times—at least ten or twelve times. Over nearly three decades, I’ve been able to focus on and learn new skills, new areas of our business, new clients, and new industries. That’s really kept it fun, exciting, and fresh. I’m learning something new every single day, even though I’m almost thirty years in. I’m also very confident that I work with the best colleagues on the planet. We have 750,000 employees at Accenture across the globe, and I’m so proud and pleased to work with them because they are the best and brightest. They push and challenge me to be better; I learn from them daily as they serve our clients. It’s been a phenomenal experience; I can confidently say this has been an incredible and fulfilling journey.
EG: Did you have any female mentors at the start of your career? What women have been inspiring to you and why?
CW: There absolutely are women leaders who have inspired me over the years, some of which are members of C200 and why I joined this organization myself. People like Pam Craig and Debbie Polishook were the most senior leaders in our company when I was rising in the ranks. Thirty years ago, it was not common to see women as Partners or Managing Directors. A small but determined group of women was leading the charge and the change back then. While female mentors were very rare for me, they were certainly inspirational for me in not only how to be a good professional but also how to be a balanced working mom and to have a balanced personal life, with or without kids. I absolutely used them as my guidepost, but I equally leveraged men, too. I was so fortunate to have some very senior men who understood the need to keep creating pathways and opportunities for women to thrive in this organization. I had some great male mentors and leaders who reached down and helped lift me up, ensuring that I was getting opportunities that sometimes I didn’t believe I could succeed in. While I did have female mentors, I was also lucky to have male mentors were also strong allies and helped me chart my path.
EG: Now that you’re in this huge leadership position, what does being a “woman in business” mean to you, and how do you apply that thinking to your work?
CW: I don’t stress being a “woman in business,” but as a female in business with a fairly senior position, I definitely feel like I have a responsibility to look after the women in our organization—to make sure that they see the possibilities in front of them, to be a sounding board and outlet for them, and not only be an ally but also an advocate for them and truly ensure that there is equal opportunity for all. We work for a phenomenal company that believes and promotes diversity in our workforce. We are proud that our CEO is a female and have a lot of wonderful female leaders we can look to. We’ve done a great job of working towards gender parity and balance, but more can always be done. As a female leader, I feel we all have the responsibility to continue looking out for the next generation and model the behaviors that will help them see their own path and achieve their own potential as leaders.
EG: Now for a fun one! You’ve talked about this a bit already with your family, but outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?
CW: While I enjoy being with my friends and hanging out, my family is my true focus on the weekends. They truly are a fun outlet for me, so I try to make sure we’re doing different things together each week. We like to play tennis and ski together, which is our favorite family activity. I also recently started playing golf which has made for some fun family trips to the golf course!
I also quite enjoy cooking. I don’t bake; I cook—there’s a difference! Baking is far too exact for me in the kitchen. I’m very exact at work, but not so exact in the kitchen! My friends mostly know me as the “Appetizer Lady”—I can throw a mean cocktail party!
I also love to read; I’m currently on this kick of reading biographies of business leaders. I just finished reading “Good Power” by Gini Rometty if anyone’s looking for a good read.
EG: What’s your advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs and leaders who want to advance their own careers?
CW: My best piece of advice is: find your way to “yes.” That means being willing to try anything. When you come across an opportunity, while it may not appear at that moment to be the best thing to do, find something in that opportunity that’s going to help you learn, grow, and give back. Find something that has purpose and meaning to you. Make sure that you’re not limiting yourself to what you think you should be doing. Open your mind and think about finding your way to “yes.” That also comes with being fearless and jumping in. Don’t think anything has to be an exactly perfect fit. The whole purpose of taking on new roles and opportunities is to grow and learn, so there should be some things that you haven’t learned or tried yet, and that’s okay! Lean into those experiences.
Lastly, I say this to my teams a lot: “You gotta have fun every day. I want you to get up and want to run to work every day.” You must have that level of excitement because work is hard sometimes. It can take a lot out of you physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It also requires an amazing support team around you that also must give and take. You want to make sure that it’s really worth it and that you find joy in what you’re doing.
EG: You have to be excited in some way about what you’re doing at work to get stuff done. You have to be motivated by something to keep doing it. Otherwise, it’s not sustainable for you. Especially if you’re on a team, your motivation has a ripple effect on everyone else. Everyone needs to be on the same page and enthusiastic because a lack from just one person affects everyone’s ability to work.
CW: I think most people are familiar with the concept of the “shadow of the leader.” The shadow you cast—the way you behave and lead—that translates to the energy of the team. If you’re not having fun, no one else is either. I really do believe that we get the best out of people when they are motivated, excited, having fun, and engaging with each other. That starts with a motivated, excited, fun, and engaging leader.
EG: What are you most excited about as a new C200 member?
CW: I always enjoy getting a chance to meet people, hear about their journeys, and learn from the experiences that they’ve had. I had the fortunate opportunity to take part in C200’s C-Ahead Cohort in 2019 and got a chance to meet the most remarkable women that are part of C200. They were really inspiring to me, and I thought joining this group would give me the chance to expand my network, especially since I’m a woman who’s been at the same company for 29 years. Getting the opportunity to be with other women, other professional women who have built tremendous careers, to learn and engage with them, felt like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Chantell Preston is CEO of Facilities Management Group, a lead partner in Active Aging and Longevity I and II Fund from Portfolia, a venture partner for the Houston Mercury Fund, and owns a consulting firm called Preston Partners. She’s been named a Breakthrough Woman from Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce in 2021 and as part of the Top 50 Women Leaders of Houston in March 2022. On top of her multi-faceted career and accolades, she enjoys coaching her daughters’ softball teams. She has been a C200 member since December 2022.
Eva Glassman: Could you please introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Chantell Preston: I’m currently the Chief Executive Officer for Facilities Management Group. We own and operate different types of healthcare facilities throughout Texas, with our main focus being hospitals. I’m also a lead partner in Active Aging and Longevity II Fund from Portfolia, which is a venture-based VC firm out of Silicon Valley. Our focus and mission are around teaching women how to invest and to invest in companies that we want to see in the world. 80% of decisions are made by the women of the family; therefore, we feel like we should have a voice regarding what companies are supported and what companies have opportunities. This will be our second fund for Active Aging and our thirteenth with Portfolia, which is, again, not only about investing in companies but also educating women on how to invest in the VC world. I think there’s this false perception is that women feel as though we must have a lot of money to invest in venture capital, but that’s not necessarily the case. Our minimum investment is $10,000, and the reason we do that is because it’s more of a learning tool for women. We want them to sit in on our pitch calls with potential companies and actively be a part of due diligence if they have an expertise that’s needed. It’s a different mindset on how to change the dynamics of investing. I am also a venture partner for the Mercury Fund here in Houston. Oh, and I have my own consulting firm called Preston Partners! We offer coaching and strategic planning.
EG: What do you believe is the biggest factor that has led to the success of your career?
CP: The biggest factor has been confidence. I think sometimes women are our own worst enemies. We feel like we don’t deserve a spot at the table. Maybe in my earlier days I was more naïve than smart; I felt like I deserved to be everywhere that I was. I found a niche for myself very early on in my career. My forte is actually building different types of healthcare facilities—everything from full acute care hospitals to rehab. At my first job, I got in there and I wanted to learn every aspect of the business, so I was never pigeonholed in one area. I wanted to be somewhat diverse across the board, and it really paid off well for me. At 27, I went out on my own as a consultant building facilities for different clients, and then started our business Atlantic Health Group and ultimately Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation.
EG: Did you have any female mentors at the beginning of your career? What women have inspired you and why?
CP: In regard to mentors, I have a few mentors that, when I was really young, felt that I had the drive and ambition to really be successful. They took me under their wing—I was very eager, listening and absorbing information more than talking. I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could. I had one mentor that took me on as I went out on my own. She was pretty brutal! She was very particular about how she wanted things done, when she wanted them done, and I think at the time it wasn’t that great, but as I look throughout my career, it probably built me into the person that I am now: resilient, a chameleon in different situations, knowing when to speak and when not to, but also possessing the ability to follow through and really understanding my own value. I think that was the most invaluable lesson I learned: never discounting the value of what I offered and what I brought to the table.
EG: Any other women that you can think of that have inspired you?
CP: You have folks that broke the glass ceiling. Judith Rodin is one of them; she was the first female president of an Ivy League school. Just being in her presence is amazing. I have been able to really learn from her and how she dealt with things which has helped me throughout my leadership journey. I can say I am a different leader today than I was probably ten years ago, so that’s age and just being wiser. I think having role models that had a different leadership style and being able to learn from them was important—Judith was one of those women for me.
EG: What does being a “woman in business” mean to you and how do you apply that thinking to your work as an entrepreneur?
CP: Great question. I think there’s a lot of pressure to being a woman in business. I think we have to work twice as hard to achieve the same successes. I was very fortunate to have business partners that never treated me as anything but an equal. However, when we went through the process of building a company called Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation and selling a private equity in 2015, it was a very eye-opening experience for me. I was the only female in the room, I was the youngest, they always spoke to my partner, and then he would look at me to answer the questions. It was a real eye-opening experience that probably not everyone was treated the same way that I was. However, I had blinders on because I was in my own world. After that, I made it my mission to help women really achieve their successes by building confidence, being an advocate, being a mentor. We all have our stories.
EG: Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?
CP: There’s a life outside of work? [laughs] No, just kidding. My family is very important to me. When I was building my business with Mentis, I sacrificed a lot of time with my daughter. Once we sold, I swore I would never do that again, realizing she was already five and I had missed out on a lot of very important events with her. It’s really about spending time with the family, spending time with my friends, having that balance. I think that makes me a better leader, person, and parent to have some things that I enjoy doing myself: I love to play golf, I love to collect wine, I love to network with other women. So again, those are some of the things that I really spend my time doing outside of work. I coach my daughters’ softball teams, and I love that because I want them to see that females can do anything that males do. I want them to never have those same challenges that we had when we were younger as they grow.
EG: What’s your advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs and leaders as they want to advance their own careers?
CP: Great question. Here’s the advice I wish I would have taken a long time ago: I think women are resistant to networking or asking for help. We want to come across like we’ve got everything under control at all times. Be vulnerable, ask for help, take help when it’s offered. Networking with other women is so important because we’re not going to get where we want to be unless we help each other. Men do it great! They all hang out on the golf course; they all do business deals together. Women are less likely to talk about business aspects when they get into certain situations, so I think it’s important for us to continue to network together, continue to get involved in organizations such as C200. I’m also part of WIPO. I think it’s very important to continue to network, build, and support each other in every aspect. I was a little late to the game; I didn’t network much in my younger days. I would encourage people to do that. Ask for help! People are willing to help if people ask. Also, find your group that supports you and lifts you up. Find the folks that are like-minded, who are in the same positions as you’re in, and really depend on each other. Support each other. I have a set of friends that I love hanging out with that are in the neighborhood and then I have my business friends, because one may not understand what I’m going through like the other does. Find your tribe, find the folks that are going to be supportive of you.
EG: Last question! What are you most excited about as a new C200 member?
CP: The opportunity to continue to network with these amazing women! I hope to get, but I hope to give back at the same time. I love the fact that it’s all women and they’re like minded, on the same level as I am, we can have similar conversations, we’re all going through the same situations professionally and personally, it doesn’t matter what sector you’re in. I think it’s really the networking aspect with the other C200 members that excites me the most.
EG: Anything else you’d like to share?
CP: As you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about bringing women together. And I love it. Even people like yourself, you’re young, I could turn all these questions around and ask you! You guys are a different culture, a different generation. We were driven by money and titles, you guys are driven by purpose and helping. It’s so fascinating to watch and it’s made us better people at the end of the day. And I’m a lot of fun to work for. [laughs] I’d love to talk about Mentis Neuro Rehab a bit more, because that’s kind of my big one, my claim to fame, taking a company from concept all the way to exit to private equity, the mid-market fund. That’s a pretty significant milestone—sometimes I devalue it a little bit, but there’s not a lot of women who have done that and it was an awesome experience. And I was only 41 years old!