What is it like for women in the technical consultancy world? We spoke to Louise Jeffrey, Strategic Alliances Director at Capgemini, to discuss her role, specifically her experience of being a female within the tech industry, and her thoughts on how to be successful.
Louise’s story is part of a series of articles highlighting the careers of female leaders within the industry. We are gathering these individual stories to exhibit the various experiences and celebrate the achievements of women in the tech world.
Louise has had a long and impressive career of various business development roles in technology which began after a mentor at secondary school recommended her for a Women in Science & Engineering residential course, where she met various other young women from all kinds of backgrounds. Inspired by the problem-solving tasks they were set, and the teachers on the course, she then went on to study Electronic Engineering with Business Management at Sussex University. It’s not surprising that Louise ended up thriving in many technology related business development and Alliance roles over the years.
Louise is currently working with AWS, one of Capgemini’s strategic partners, where her focus is on growing their businesses together, taking advantage of Capgemini’s consulting skills with AWS’s technology. Louise’s role is about building and implementing the strategy and includes prioritising which industries and solutions to focus on and inspiring people from both organisations to work together. She acts as a bridge between the two companies, seeking new customers and opportunities for implementation of change through use of technology and the cloud.
‘’One of the exciting aspects of my role is seeing how technology can bring about massive business change to clients. It’s not about technology for technology sake, and although companies can make cost savings by moving to cloud, it’s the business agility that it enables that should result in a more profitable business. For example it could enable a company to fundamentally change its sales model to be able to increase sales, or improve its manufacturing process so it can make products quicker and more efficiently – It’s these business benefits that technology enables that bring technology alive’’
Like many, Louise believes in the most suited person getting the job. However, she also stands by the movement to encourage and empower more women and people from diverse backgrounds, and believes that whilst many organisations have Diversity initiatives as a key priority, there is still more to do to create balance and equality within the industry.
“One of the things I personally find challenging, and I believe a lot of women also do, is around managing self-doubt and the fear of failing. In my experience what can sometimes happen is when women have self-doubts they are more likely avoid something including going for promotion. I try and recognise when I am going to do this and assess where things don’t need to be perfect or talk to someone I trust’’
From this, Louise believes in finding a coach or mentor to explore your thoughts and actions to help progress your career and stop you holding yourself back. She also finds that providing coaching for others and encouraging that as a culture within teams is really rewarding. A lot of the time being a coach is about listening and people often come to a conclusion themselves with a bit of steering.
“So if you’re in employment or not, or if you’re at the beginning of your career or further on, find someone that you really trust, whether they be male or female, and make sure you’re having those really open explore conversations”
Capgemini have a programme of targeted mentoring opportunities and mentoring circles for women, which is particularly important now adays as part of what we do to ensure our people feel connected and supported throughout working remotely, especially women coping with caring responsibilities, educational disruption, isolation.
For those interested in joining Capgemini or any new company, Louise advises taking the time to understand the company and their values to ensure you are a good cultural fit. For Louise herself, Capgemini is a great match, and part of this is around trust both in herself and knowing the company deliver a good service to clients. However, the most significant aspect of any job is to enjoy what you’re doing.
“For me, as well as technology as an enabler to the business a big part of what I enjoy about my role is influencing and connecting people at all levels of the business. I think if you do something that you truly enjoy, then you’ve got more chance of being successful.”
Louise’s career has progressed significantly during her time at Capgemini, and she has seen the company undergo digital transformation and take bigger steps to create deeper relationships with technology partners.
“One of the things I try to do, and would encourage others to do, is believe in myself and trust my own judgement. Ask for feedback from people as you go through your career, and then reflect on what you think is important. Take time to celebrate what you’ve achieved rather than dwelling on what you’ve not”
And if you don’t know where you’re going in your career? Louise advises thinking about what you enjoy doing and ask yourself why that is.
“Thinking back over your career or other activities you’ve been involved with, what roles or tasks have you found really rewarding, and can you identify what specifically made them so? For example did you enjoy working out a solution or difficult problem, or influencing a client or other team members, or did you enjoy building a business case? From there you can find roles either internally or externally that build on those elements, maybe even expanding your existing role.”
WhereWomenWork has our repository of all diversity/inclusion/women-focussed content: https://www.wherewomenwork.com/Employer/Capgemini
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