October 15, 2019
Bots, a baby and back to work
By: Priya Chandrasekaran

Getting to work with bots

For the past few years I’ve been working in Robotics Process Automation (RPA) across financial institutions. RPA comes in to play where there is the potential for automation, so mundane manual tasks that follow a distinct set of rules can be done by the bots so long as it does not involve human judgment or intelligence. And, these bots are time-savers as they can work 24/7 and therefore speed-up the process.

I design the automation: what should the bot do, how do you design it, what’s the first check, what are the things you need to consider, is there anything that might affect someone’s manual job, the security and protecting customer data and, how the bot should react in case of any exceptions. Essentially, I design the framework for the developers, and they build the automation. I then assist with the code reviews so if the developers are stuck somewhere, I can help them to resolve the issue and, will support with all phases of testing and production.

I would say I’m a very technical person. I did my Bachelors in India studying Engineering in Information Technology and completed it in 2007, then worked for another consultancy as a C# developer before moving to the UK when I got married. I joined Accenture in 2010, initially working as an Oracle Database Administrator for about four to five years. Then, it came to a point when I wanted to do something new which, was about the same time that Robotics Process Automation started to take-off within Accenture. It was a very new technology and they were looking for people to learn it and work on it. That was challenging because generally people who have a few years’ experience don’t like to go back and completely change track. It’s was a bit risky too - the uncertainty of whether you will like it or not.

For me though it was at the time when I needed to change some things in my life as it was feeling a bit monotonous – I knew something had to be different so said ‘yes, let me try it’ and I learnt the technology from scratch (which was just like being back at college). Within a year I was coding and automating RPA with various big-name financial clients and it was great exposure mainly as so few people were doing this kind of work. Suddenly I found myself in different client meetings, giving demos and going to sales meetings and, in less than two years, I became a lead architect specialising in RPA and was helping with the junior developers and training other developers and business analysts in the technology.

A returning mum

It was going well but then due to personal reasons, I had to take a career break and then I had my baby! I was away from work for two and a half years and I came back in December last year. I was keen to continue working with RPA but there were so many new people now doing this work and they all knew more about the latest RPA developments than I did which meant it was a bit difficult to find a role at first. I finally got onto my current project in April and I’m back to learning again – it’s not new to me but technology changes so quickly that I need to get up to speed but I’m getting there and back to the RPA domain which I enjoy so much. That said, it’s sometimes stressful with the deadlines and deliverables whilst managing the balance of being a returning mum.

I remember that I felt completely lost on that first day back. The RPA community had grown and there were not many people I used to work with still around. I had to get used to lots of new faces and even the office had been through a makeover. The first person I really spoke with was my career counsellor and he was so supportive in helping me to figure out what I should do and gave me a few contacts. I quickly realised that people here were understanding when I applied for roles on projects and on telling them I was a returning mum they provided very open information on everything about the role and all the options were laid out, so I had the choice.

Being on the bench

I was unassigned for three months (or as we say here ‘on the bench’) and used this time for training and doing certifications. I did AWS cloud training and became a certified AWS Cloud Practitioner during this time. I also helped with several small internal projects and involved in Proof of Concept works which were non-client chargeable, but these kept me learning and helped me to get back into the swing of things. It’s quite normal to be unassigned here but I had never been ‘on the bench’ before so was new to me. It obviously affected my chargeability, but it gave me the time to get my confidence back, speak to people and understand how things had changed – in fact, it was extremely helpful.

Life now

I’m now working full-time on a project which is based out of one of our London offices and sometimes I work from home. It was quite hard to come back to work and leave my baby and at first my in-laws and parents helped as I settled between work and personal life. She’s now in day care and I think I miss her more than she misses me and, I still worry every day if she’s getting on okay, but I guess every mother feels like this. My baby is now 22 months old and a lot of my spare time is ‘baby time’ but when I get the chance, I love cooking Indian food. I always say that if I’d never done software engineering, I’d have gone into catering.

I’ve found that at Accenture, if you reach out to people, they will help you. You do have to speak up and tell people what it is you want to do and, it may not happen immediately, but when something does come up, they will get in touch. Accenture gives you every opportunity to learn and explore new things but it’s up to you to be bold enough to take on these new challenges.

You can find out more about our career opportunities for technology professionals and search our current vacancies here. If you have a passion for technology and have been out of work for 2 years or more, you may also be interested in the Accenture Break/Through programme which is a 10-week paid internship for experienced returning managers.

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