For Shibani Roy, a Manager at Collective Insights, listening to her mood and energy level is key to finding a work-life balance.
“I like to be outside in my free time,” she explains. “When I'm feeling energized, I'm probably planning things with friends and family, watching an Atlanta sporting event, or going on a hike to enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes work requires long hours in front of my laptop.”
When she’s feeling calm she’ll enjoy life at a slower pace. “I might listen to some music or watch a movie, and have some time to myself.”
No matter her mood during her time off, Shibani always brings enthusiasm and motivation to her team. We sat down with her to learn more about how she built a career within tech as a consultant and now manager.
Pursuing a Career in Computer Engineering
Shibani was always a curious child. “I would try to fix things like toys and put them back together,” she shares. With the mind of an engineer, she naturally gravitated towards computer engineering as she matured. “In high school, I took a computer engineering course, and it taught a lot of hands-on, knowledge-based problem-solving. And that gave me a lot of satisfaction.”
When she reached university she knew the route she wanted to pursue, but didn't have a specific career in mind. “I didn't even know what a degree in computer engineering meant. I assumed it had to do with building computers, trying to understand the back end, coding, and how to create programs,” she confesses.
After graduating with her degree, she went the traditional career route of working a 9-to-5 job but soon learned it wasn’t a great fit. She found that she wasn't growing the way she wanted to.
Then one day someone mentioned to her the possibility of doing consulting work and the change of pace it could offer. “It might require some traveling,” she retells, “and bring some diversity around projects, industries, and clientele to help me really figure out what I wanted to do.”
So, she decided to try out consulting.
Stepping into the Tech World as a Consultant
Shibani ended up leaving her corporate job to pursue consulting full-time.
“I joined a consulting firm and I ended up loving every minute of it,” she shares with glee. “I was in multiple industries, different projects, and meeting so many different people up to C-levels and leadership.”
What gave Shibani the confidence to make this career shift was a supportive network and a unique skill set.
Within her network, Shibani has family and friends that have supported her throughout her life and helped her maintain a positive attitude. “I couldn't have gone this far without them,” she states. "Good changes happen when you're surrounding yourself with good people and good context. The right people in your life help set your path and career. No one can do it alone.”
What solidified her role in consulting were her particular skills. “I came from a client perspective where I knew what doesn't work and then jumped to consulting where I was the vendor, and could say here's how it should work. Coming with both of those experiences helped me be successful.”
Over time, her success encouraged her to realize her potential and set her sights on bigger goals. Yet when she wanted to pursue those goals she noticed a few barriers.
“I came from a large consulting firm where seniority and moving up the ladder takes a very long time,” she admits.
Shibani was willing to put in the dedication and had a vision for her next steps. “I wanted a role that people can look up to and try to follow," she explains. "It's not just about leading, it's about encouraging and showing motivation. I was ready for that next step.”
This next step would mean leaving her corporate job. She was looking for a smaller firm, where her work could impact the whole company and she was ready to move into a managerial role.
Becoming a Manager at Collective Insights
She eventually found Collective Insights where she was able to obtain the opportunities she was looking for. Collective Insights is a management and technology consulting firm that focuses on clients, culture, and community.
When stepping into this new role, she focused on building relationships between her and the other consultants on her team. “You want to create trust and build strong bonds,” she advises. “I think trust is a crucial part of any leadership role. Feeling as though your team can lean on you and vice versa creates a sense of team belonging. You can say all the right things, but trust is that glue that holds everything together."
One of her strategies for building this trust is connecting with her teammates on a more personal level. In addition to taking advantage of different opportunities, “I started expanding project teams, and working with others. And that helped me showcase the knowledge I bring to the table and how I can help this place grow,” she explains.
Once the trust was established she focused on building camaraderie within her team. "I try to show them we can talk about issues or frustrations. We can talk about where one might need more help. I saw a whole new dynamic after that.”
Creating an environment of open communication has allowed her to see the effects of her work. “I can be part of a team and show them what we're trying to accomplish and how that impacts the whole account, not just the project,” she shares.
Diversity in the Tech Space
Being able to relate to and support her team was a skill Shibani carried over from her days consulting. “In consulting, you have different teams and you have to learn different communication dynamics. You learn about different cultures and backgrounds.”
At Collective Insights, they understand the value of having a diverse workforce. Something that Shibani didn’t see when she first started working in tech. “I graduated in ‘04 and back then, the ratio of men to women in the tech space and corporate America was majority men.”
Now she has seen the needle move throughout her career. “With my experiences with different industries and clients, I can see a difference between when I first started consulting to now," she explains. "There are more women in leadership roles, even executive leadership roles.”
She particularly sees this change within Collective Insights. “There are so many types of backgrounds. It's amazing to see how diverse we are and how we all work together cohesively,” she shares with excitement. "I can see myself being here long-term and helping us grow. It's amazing.”
Advice for Women Breaking into the Tech World
Although the tech world is diversifying, there is still room to grow. For those women who are trying to enter the tech field, Shibani offers this advice:
- Be open to opportunities outside of your comfort zone. According to Shibani, these are growth opportunities. “You might think ‘this has nothing to do with my background’ but it could be something new that helps expand your portfolio,” she says.
- Be resilient. “There's a lot of discouraging people and experiences that might deter you,” she states. “You might want to change your mind as far as a career path, but disappointments or failures are going to happen.” Shibani advises not to take them personally. Instead “use them as a growth opportunity. Put it in your back pocket as a learning experience.”
- Be honest with yourself. “Ask yourself ‘Is this place for you?’ and follow your gut,” she encourages. Being true to yourself will help guide you in those moments of making difficult career choices or pivoting into a new role. "I think any woman in technology or consulting will be happy with who they are if they listen to themselves.”
If you are looking to combine consulting with tech, check out current openings at Collective Insights.