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Pierre Nanterme, former CEO of Accenture; at 59

NEW YORK — Pierre Nanterme, who capped a 36-year career at the consulting firm now known as Accenture with an eight-year run as chief executive, greatly increasing its value and doubling its workforce to 469,000 employees, died Jan. 31. He was 59.

Accenture confirmed his death but did not specify a cause or where he died. He received a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2016 and had stepped down as chief executive on Jan. 11, the company said.

Under Mr. Nanterme, Accenture, a consulting giant that counts some of the world’s largest companies among its clients, spent over $6 billion to acquire more than 100 smaller firms, increasing in value by $70 billion.

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Mr. Nanterme’s strategy for fueling growth involved, among other things, creating divisions dedicated to what he called “the new”: digital, cloud-computing, and security services. Those units now account for more than 60 percent of Accenture’s revenue.

He was known to open meetings by quoting Churchill or Napoleon, and for sprinkling in other punchy phrases of encouragement. Urging Accenture executives to tackle hard choices or unpleasant facts head on, he would say, “Stare doom in the face,” or “Call a cat a cat.”

“I find the unknown and the complex more fun than scary,” he said in a 2016 interview with MIT Sloan Management Review.

Pierre Yves Raymond Nanterme was born Sept. 7, 1959, in Lyon, France. His father was a sales executive at a metallurgy company; his mother ran a clothing shop. He graduated from Essec business school near Paris in 1981, spent a year in the military in an Alpine skiing unit and, in 1983, joined the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, a predecessor to Accenture. He became a partner at Andersen Consulting 10 years later.

Mr. Nanterme is survived by his wife, Sophie; his daughter, Marie; his parents; a sister; and a brother.

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When he embarked on his ambitious transformation of Accenture, it was not obvious that such a shift was necessary, colleagues said.

“It wasn’t as if we had a problem he was trying to fix,” David P. Rowland, Accenture’s interim successor as chief executive, said of Mr. Nanterme’s increased focus on technology. “He understood how fundamentally this was going to transform the world and every industry.”

When Mr. Nanterme decided on his new priorities, he did not hesitate in acting on them.

“He made the change happen very quickly so no one had a chance to wonder about it,” said Omar Abbosh, leader of Accenture’s communications, media, and technology group.

Mr. Nanterme’s strategy led to a net revenue growth of 55 percent between 2011 and 2018.

Mr. Nanterme had a reputation as humble and self-effacing. Accenture employees would frequently encounter him in elevators and break rooms, chatting with him without realizing he was the company’s top boss.

“He always kept that shyness,” Abbosh said.

The humility earned Mr. Nanterme other business leaders’ respect. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, reacted to his death by describing him in a Twitter post as “a friend and visionary leader.”

One of Mr. Nanterme’s priorities at Accenture was making the staff gender-balanced by 2025, and the company said it had increased female workers to 42 percent of the workforce, from 35 percent, during his time as chief executive.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, noted that commitment after Mr. Nanterme’s death, writing on Twitter that “his work toward equality in the workplace” would be remembered alongside his impact as a business leader.

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