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.
Below is an article originally written by Sierra Jackson, Internal Communications Analyst at PowerToFly Partner Avanade, and published on September 3, 2019. Go to Avanade's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
I began my career at Avanade as an intern in our Chicago office. I never set out to work in tech and I had no idea what working for a tech company would be like, but I'd seen movies, so I figured it would be something like a bunch of guys in white T-shirts who never looked up from their desktops as they wrote code. But when I came in for my final interview and met with only women, I knew my expectations would be challenged here. Yes, I work for a tech company, but I've found that most of my day is spent interacting with people and using technology to communicate people's stories, which is definitely the best of both worlds.
After a year as an intern and college graduation, I joined Avanade full-time. Right as I was transitioning from intern to working full-time, Pam Maynard was announced as our CEO-elect. As a black woman entering the tech industry, I never really expected that I'd be able to look up the chain of command and see people like me. But here I am, able to learn from my bosses and mentors who have forged the path ahead of me and given me opportunities I might not have had a generation ago.
I got to meet Pam a few weeks ago when the Avanade Executive Committee was visiting the Chicago office. Even though leaders at Avanade are pretty approachable, I'm right at the start of my career, and the idea of walking right up to our leadership is kind of intimidating. Imagine my surprise when Pam walked right up to me and introduced herself. I told her how excited I was that I was able to see someone who looks like me as CEO, something I never expected to see during my lifetime, especially fresh out of college.
Her reply was also something I never expected. "I'm happy to see people who look like you in the business," she told me. In that moment, I felt equal and important in a way that I imagine many 21-year-old black women never get to.
It's not just Pam. From where I sit as an analyst, all the way up to our CEO, every role up my chain of command is occupied by a woman. For this to be the case, a few things must happen: Avanade has to have a commitment to hiring women in leadership roles. The company also has to have a strong, inclusive culture that supports that commitment. And finally, I had to be lucky enough to start my career at Avanade at the right time for all these roles above me to fall into place. Like I said, I never set out to work in tech; I also never expected to work at a company that gives people like me the opportunity to reach for the stars and not be limited by gender. And I'm so happy to be somewhere like Avanade, where my expectations are challenged for the better every day.
From Avanade's inclusive culture, flexible work environment and focus on the future, watch as women from Avanade's Belgium office share their stories about how Avanade is a place where they thrive both personally and professionally. To learn more, visit the "Women at Avanade" page.
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With a career at Avanade, you can be the master of your own destiny. Plus, they'll help you fly as high as you want! In fact, here's what one female employee had to say about career growth at Avanade:
"No matter what stage of career you're at — at Avanade, you can go further and grow faster."
Are you ready to take your career to the next level?!
If yes, then click here to see all available opportunities at Avanade, and don't forget to press 'Follow' to receive custom job matches, event invitations and more!