October 04, 2019
Growing out of my comfort zone
By: Sheeba Sarfaraz

Being Agile

I would describe myself as a technical person who likes to be hands-on when it comes to project work. Whenever we get a new technology or when I’m working on a new project, I like to know how it works technically, how the technology can be implemented and then improved and, how it can be integrated with different tools.

As a Technical Architect I essentially work identifying the best technical solution for a client problem, designing and developing the Proof of Concepts along with guiding a team of developers and testers with the execution. My role also extends to a Scrum Lead where I organise Sprint planning, Backlog Grooming sessions and collaborating with the client and different teams to ensure we meet the deadlines.

My current project, developed on Cloud-based architecture, was a critical Financial Services (FS) delivery. Now that it’s live I’m providing project management, supporting the architecture enhancements and infrastructure-related changes on production. I have daily meetings with the client and stakeholders and am supporting in transitioning the work to our FS client, along with technical and functional knowledge transfer. I think I’ve been very lucky to have worked on this project because it’s taught me a lot, both professionally and personally.

My comfort zone

I started out in my career as a Java Developer and did that for roughly six years before joining Accenture as a Technical Architect. It was a big change to go from a developer mindset to a Tech Arch mindset, and I would say I struggled a lot at the start. As a developer you generally focus on one aspect at a time, but as a Technical Architect you need to broaden your prospective and, for me that’s been challenging but I’m getting there! It’s correctly said that “To Unlearn is as hard as to Learn”. As I mentioned at the start, I lean towards the technical side of work and if I’m very honest I do find project management more challenging but that’s because I’m not comfortable to confront people or tell them what to do but as a Project Manager you have to do that now and again. My leaders do recognise that I struggle sometimes with this and we’ve had very open conversations on how I can improve, and I’ve found with their support and guidance I’ve started to enjoy it much more. The more I’ve been interacting with the client’s team and directing them, the more confidence I’ve picked up. It’s still a little out of my comfort zone and that’s tricky to move away from, but I realise you grow by doing that.

I&D in practice

I really like our diverse culture. To give you an example, my current project team has people from all nationalities and that makes it so interesting because you learn more from each other (not just in relation to work!) and get very different perspectives. I’ve always been interested in learning about different cultures and love to travel to really experience this, so I really embrace the diversity you get here.

Sheeba Sarfaraz

I recently joined our Muslim network (which is open to Muslims and non-Muslims) and the first networking session I attended was hearing from our Muslim women leaders who shared their career experiences and provided great insight on how people can perceive you and how things have changed over the years. The second event was around inclusivity and helping others to understand the Islamic faith - this was followed by a fabulous charity EID dinner. I think inclusivity here is not just put down on paper - it’s put into practice and a reality. Another reality here is that no matter how senior someone is, they are still approachable. There’s no real sense of hierarchy - obviously there’s the appreciation of someone’s experience and the leaders I have worked with are incredibly smart and knowledgeable - but I’ve always found our senior people are not just engaging but very down to earth so you can talk to them about any problem or challenge you face and they will listen – that’s the sign of a true leader.

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