Software, cybersecurity and cloud computing professionals are in high demand today. Thousands of technology jobs are available, yet women hold fewer than 25% of all tech jobs. There are a number of reasons women are under-represented in tech careers: gender bias, a lack of information about the potential for STEM careers early in a girl's education, a shortage of female mentors, company cultures that don't adequately support women technologists and more. However, the bottom line is that not enough women are pursuing careers in tech. Because fewer women are studying technology-based subjects at school and university, employers have fewer women to choose from when recruiting.
Fortunately, times are changing, and some companies are taking steps to attract more women employees by addressing pay gaps, offering flexible work policies and implementing programs to help women employees thrive. Avanade is proud to be one of those companies. Today we talk with Tripti Sethi, senior director, Global AI Center of Excellence lead at Avanade, about the variety of opportunities available to women in technology consulting.
As their title may suggest, technology consultants work with clients to help them transform the way they use technology to drive business outcomes. Traditionally, these transformations have been geared toward improving business processes, reducing costs and maximizing the use of technology opportunities. Today they encompass so much more, from digital strategy and artificial intelligence to technology change projects.
Can you tell us more about the variety of roles available in consulting?
I speak at conferences for women in tech, and I've found that there is often a preconceived notion that you need to be a coder to be in tech. For a technology offering to be successful, there are a lot of elements that come into play. For example, in my own field of work in artificial intelligence, you certainly need data scientists and engineers. But you also need strategists who guide the "why" behind a project, people from the industry who understand a solution's applications in the space, designers that translate the code into something usable for the everyday person, and marketing and salespeople to actually get the project into the market.
This list isn't exhaustive, but it does show that a tech career doesn't have to involve coding. There will always be an important place for coders. At the same time, there is a wide range of roles now for people interested in a tech career.
What are the best things about being a woman in consulting?
Personally, I enjoy the flexibility that consulting provides. I like the fact that I can choose to get up really early in the morning, do a bit of work, maybe do a boxing class in the afternoon and then work again into the evening. As technology becomes more integral to driving business transformation, I like the complex and diverse set of problems we solve and the diverse skills and people we work with to solve them. This is amplified even further by the fact that I have a global role and I work across multiple geographies, industries and cultures. Of course, the role has given me the opportunity to travel to some incredibly beautiful places and have the most amazing experiences.
What would you say to women considering a career in consulting?
If you like taking on a challenge, tackling problems and translating them into solutions and you really enjoy delivering that kind of success to clients, this is a dynamic and fun place to be. For consulting projects to be successful, a blend of strategy, design, technology, data, AI, marketing and a whole host of other skills to deliver projects are key. This means that the opportunity and options for women to flourish and grow as technology consultants is exponentially increasing. It's also a great place to make lateral movements and acquire new skills, either based on your interests or evolving life/career stages.
The most important aspect however, just like any woman entering a male-dominated industry, is to be yourself and to be open to challenging the "as-is." Don't try to fit in a box that you think is accepted. In reality, it's your uniqueness that will make you add value and be successful.
How did you take advantage of different opportunities at Avanade?
Avanade provided me diversity not just in the roles I have held, but also in my quest to experience life and work in different parts of the globe. I started as our Advanced Analytics lead in Europe based out of the Netherlands for a year, broadened my portfolio to lead the Digital Analytics offering for Europe and serve as the first Data & AI Center of Excellence member in the area. I am now Seattle-based as I lead and grow our AI capabilities in the global Data & AI COE.
Tech is a fast-moving field. How do you keep your skills sharp and up to date?
Avanade supported and challenged me to rotate my skills and learn new ones, to expand what I do, how I deliver, and how I add value with new skills. We are lucky to have access to a wide range of training programs and opportunities for skills development. In addition, Avanade supported me in my personal mission to be the face of AI and diversity for us externally, a journey that has helped me develop my public speaking, presentation and networking skills. This has been very rewarding and inspiring for me.