Automation is the next tech frontier – hear from two of our team about working at the face of change
May 25, 2022
Our Codeless Automation Accelerator (CAF) team started four years ago with a suggestion from Pranav Chamoli. He shares his story of what it was like to be supported to develop a new product innovation, as well as insights from new hire in the team, Avneet Kaur, on how she’s launching her tech career and using automation tools to deliver better real-world outcomes.
The Codeless Automation Accelerator project started with a move from India to Australia. After more than a decade working in software development in India, Pranav Chamoli and his wife decided to move to Australia, looking to give their two children more opportunities for their education and wellbeing. As part of this relocation in 2017, Pranav started at Accenture, initially on a contract.
During his time in India, Pranav had worked at a software development company and had developed a strong interest in the ‘how’ of software is made, as well as what it means to be a true professional. “I was given a copy of the book The Clean Coder by Robert C. Martin, and this changed everything for me. I took on a really holistic view of not just the technical skills needed, but also the personal behaviours and ethics of being the best possible software professional I could be.”
“Then, when I joined Accenture in 2017 and was put on a project at a major bank, I saw that a lot of the general concepts of coding and the potential for automation, particularly around testing. A big issue that we face, especially in consultancy work, is that very few teams are doing end-to-end applications. Our work with customers means there’s a tendency for short-term projects and the workforce changes frequently as people move between client projects. Clients might need a mobile app, and then the next month you’re working on something desktop-based or even a mainframe application. The landscape is huge and technologies are countless, making it difficult for everyone to keep pace at the rapid changes,” says Pranav.
Seeing these issues led to Pranav wanting to develop a solution and after a conversation with his manager, he was given the support to pursue this plan. Recognising both the potential and the importance of this work, Pranav was given four weeks of totally uninterrupted time – a quiet room, no client meetings, protection from all distractions – to deliver a prototype.
A culture of innovation and continuous learning
Pranav says, “I was given everything I needed to invest my mental energy into developing the CAF prototype. Management was totally supportive, including flexibility around when I worked. For example, sometimes I think best in the evenings, so working from 8pm to midnight if that’s when I was being most productive was no problem.”
Four years on, CAF is now part of the ‘MyWizard’ arm of Accenture in ANZ, working more like a software product arm within the business, rather than a consultancy service. The CAF team has grown from three people to now 60 people, creating a platform that can define automation tests in plain English language across almost any type of application.
“Now that the team has grown, I’m still supported to retain my technical focus, rather than being expected to shift into management work. Accenture understands that I’m a technical person and the best way to use my strengths is by letting me continue to do development, as well as giving training to share my knowledge with the younger generation coming through as our team has grown,” says Pranav.
“I love the problem-solving nature of what I do, too. I’m a creative person – I actually wanted to be a fashion designer when I was a kid and still sew clothes for my children now, as well as playing musical instruments like the guitar – and I really enjoy that I use those same ways of thinking in my work,” continues Pranav.
For people at the start of their technology careers, like new-starter Avneet Kaur, it means the potential to quickly develop skills and understand the framework, making it easier to explain processes to clients and align testing to their business requirements. Avneet says, “I majored in mechatronics engineering systems, which brings together concepts like electrical and mechanical engineering, along with automation. I have a massive interest in automation and robotics, but didn’t know how that would apply to a career. It was at a university industry networking night when I met some Accenture people and got some insights into the automation space and the possibilities for someone with my background to be able to contribute. Then the more I read about Accenture and its values, the more I felt that this would be a great fit for me.”
“This role at Accenture is my first technical role, after previously working as an admin assistant while finishing my studies. I started in August 2021 with very little idea about how software works, but after a week of training from people like Pranav, I very quickly got up to speed about how CAF works and how to use it to automate the testing of applications,” continues Avneet.
Avneet thinks one of the biggest benefits of CAF is how easy it is for non-technical people to understand and use. “Everything is in plain English and it can be applied to almost any type of software application. This means its less constrained and I can test how the client wants. It’s easier to convert business requirements to testing scenarios, and this means clients don’t need to have a strong technical background. I can speak to them in their language to determine what needs to be tested, so we’re all on the same page on what needs to be achieved, and it’s also easier to report back to clients on the outcomes of the testing processes,” says Avneet.
“While I have a strong science background, I didn’t join with deep coding skills, and the initial week of training really helped me to hit the ground running. This training was my first interaction with my new colleagues and with people from different backgrounds and levels of workforce experience, but it was so inclusive and respectful. This feeling continues now, with everyone in the CAF team treating each other as equals, regardless of position. It’s not a hierarchal workplace at all!” continues Avneet.
Another thing Avneet loves is the number of women role models within the team. “Growing up, I was intrigued by robots, but when it came time to participate in classes and courses, I didn’t see other girls interested. Combined with my passion for Bollywood dancing, it felt like an odd thing to want to explore. I thought opportunities to pursue robotics didn’t exist, but then when I got to university with a major in mechatronic systems, there were a lot more women and I was reassured that I wasn’t alone as a women interested in automation. I formed some great bonds with other women at uni, and now on my current project have female leaders. It’s great to look up and see talented, passionate women pursuing automation and technology careers as my inspiration. I hope that I can follow in their footsteps and one day lead a team myself,” she says.
Working at the edge of change
Pranav says, “Traditionally, when you want to build test automation with other tools and applications, there’s a requirement for both specific (and expensive!) software licenses and people trained in those tools. With CAF, we’re able to use the same syntax to test pretty much any type of software – whether that’s across mainframe, web, mobile or desktop. It’s also designed to meet modern technologies like cloud applications, including unique applications like testing mainframe applications in the cloud. This means our people can engage in testing with a lot more confidence, too.”
“Knowing that we’ve built something that can adapt and evolve as different technologies come into use is incredible,” says Pranav.
Accenture provides a flexible work environment where we support our people to explore their full potential – professionally and personally – including time to develop new things. Find out more about careers with us.