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Emerging Leader Nominee: Naomi Bhappu Irani
October 31st, 2018
By A.J. Mistretta

Naomi Bhappu Irani is a rising star in the STEM world. This fast-tracked technology consultant and natural community builder recently received an award of excellence for her work at Houston’s 1,800-person Accenture office. 

Naomi is the current chair of the Integration Committee for Accenture’s Houston People Council, where she successfully piloted and launched the Experienced Recruiting Buddy Program. Designed to help new hires navigate the nearly 500,000-person organization, the initiative is now slated to be rolled out to other office locations. Naomi is also committed to developing the next generation of young leaders through her work as the company’s University of Texas recruitment co-lead and as a mentor for junior Accenture professionals.

Are you from Houston originally? 

I’m a proud native Houstonian. If you want to get technical, I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but my family emigrated to Houston when I was one, and I have called Houston home ever since. I grew up in Cypress, and then left for four short years to get an engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘Em!) I moved back to Houston after college and now live in Rice Military.

Who has inspired you most in your life and why?

Without a doubt, my parents have been the most constant inspiration in my life. Growing up, I never fully grasped the sacrifices that my parents made to provide a better life for my sister and me. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I started to truly realize everything my parents have done. If moving their whole life from a country they knew and loved was not sacrifice enough, they both worked long hours, never complaining, to provide us with every opportunity they could. Now, as I try to establish a good work-life balance, I understand this sacrifice even more and all the aspects of our lives they successfully juggled. I constantly find myself thinking of this gift, and I feel so grateful. 

How do you like to get your day started? Any consistent rituals?

I like to start my day with a workout class or a run, although I do not always get out of bed on time. I also like to listen to podcasts, and don’t miss a morning without The Daily podcast from the New York Times. To combat the frustrations of Houston traffic, I call my parents and my sister on my way to work every day, even if, on some days, it is just a game of phone-tag. 

How do you approach leadership? Would you rather be liked or respected?

I struggle to think of a leader who I respect but do not like. With that being said, I know that I am a person who likes to be liked. It is important to build trust and a sense of camaraderie within your team and being liked and respected will stem from that. 

The digitization of the oil and gas industry is an important topic for Houston. What would you like to tell the broader business community regarding this topic?

There is no argument that virtually every industry, including energy, is being disrupted by the rapid advancement in digital technologies from IoT to artificial intelligence. But this is also an exciting time for the Energy Capital of the World. There is tremendous creativity in how companies are using technology to increase production, improve safety, reduce environmental impact and differentiate from their competitors. There is also more opportunity than ever before for collaboration across industries and players from startups, government to academia. If Houston is going to maintain its position as a leader in energy, we all have to team up and support this digital transformation within our city and in the industries we lead. 

Accenture is a very large company. What advice do you have for young professionals when navigating a large corporation?

Anytime a new analyst at our firm asks me this question I always tell them the same thing: build your network and your own community within the company. The easiest way to make a large company, like Accenture, feel smaller is to build up your network. This will take time and consistent effort, but the best way to start this process is to take an active role in participating in groups that are important to you. Most large companies invest in their employees and have many ways to get involved, so follow your passion – or go where you are needed – and start contributing. Personally, my contributions outside my normal “day job,” including recruiting, corporate citizenship, and getting involved with my project and practice teams, are some of the most rewarding parts of my job. 

What are your Houston top three? Where would we find you in your free time?

B&B Butchers (you have to try the bacon), Memorial Park Running Trail (great spot to train for the Houston Half Marathon), Tiny’s Milk and Cookies (needs no explanation).

If I’m not out and about, my husband and I like to host game nights with our friends and watch football with the family. You can also find me reading on my balcony (if Houston weather permits), trying out new brunch spots, or traveling (most likely to a wedding).

The 2018 HYPE Impact Awards will be held Nov. 8. Click here for information and tickets. 

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