Iliana Oris Valiente has been on the phone since 6 am the day of our interview, either talking with her team or connecting with clients in different time zones around the globe. Running both Accenture’s Canadian blockchain innovation group and leading the Accenture Canada Innovation Hub keeps her busy, but her work is far more human-focused than her titles may suggest.
#movethedial sat down with the innovation leader to learn more about her career so far, how Accenture solves problems for clients and industry, and asked her advice on how entrepreneurs of all sizes can approach problem-solving in the 21st century.
Growing up and finding blockchain
Born in Russia, Oris Valiente had a global upbringing, living in Cuba, Denmark, and now Canada. Growing up, she spent most of her time learning about the world around her.
“I spent a lot of time reading,” she said. “From Greek mythology to cookbooks to math textbooks. If I wasn’t reading, I was probably talking to people and asking questions.”
With varied interests and a global stage to grow on, she continued her education in a more formal setting. After moving to Canada in the late 1990s, she graduated from the University of Ottawa and started her career as a Chartered Accountant (CA). After that, she moved into financial analysis, never staying in one role for too long and always seeking out new challenges like working in tax and financial audits. “I got to ask lots of questions to understand what was keeping CFOs up at night.”
But it wasn’t until she ended up at Deloitte, initially doing valuations, that she discovered blockchain.
“I stumbled into the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies through network connections I had,” she said. “I had lots of friends in math and computer science. I started going to a few meetups when [cryptocurrency and blockchain] was very underground. I realized the power of Distributed Ledger Technology (another way to say “blockchain”) is vast and can be applied to a lot of places.”
After this realization – and a lot more reading and asking questions – Oris Valiente became the blockchain strategy lead at Deloitte, spinning out a company, AION, that still exists today as a venture-backed startup. She also founded ColliderX, a nonprofit that matchmakes between corporations looking for blockchain research and researchers looking for their next project.
Accenture’s global innovation bet
After her successes with ColliderX and AION, Accenture was her next move.
She initially joined as the managing director of blockchain innovation for the global consulting firm, helping clients around the world understand blockchain technology and how it applied to their businesses. Soon after joining Accenture, Oris Valiente moved into the Canada blockchain lead role and doubled up her duties by taking on the leadership of Accenture Canada’s Innovation Hub.
It’s in this hub, occupying three stories in an office tower in downtown Toronto, that Oris Valiente helps Accenture clients solve some of their toughest problems. It’s also where the consulting giant takes on industry-wide issues, using its influence and network to bring the right stakeholders to the room.