How long have you been with Accenture?
I have been with Accenture for more than 12 years and it’s been an exciting journey.
What does your typical workday look like?
A typical day starts with me getting my daughter ready for school. Then, it’s on to the rest of my morning routine, getting everything ready for my family, etc. My journey to the office takes about an hour and I start work during my commute by checking my e-mail, getting started on my daily tasks, such as responding to Requests For Proposals (RFPs), delivering on-going projects and working on new capabilities that Accenture is developing.
Me and my team work on multiple interesting projects, which also include client visits. On the commute back home, I catch up with my reading, spending the time learning a new technology or reading the news about recent cyberattacks, etc. I always look forward to this part of my day. Once I am back home, I spend time with my daughter, check up on her homework, get dinner ready, and get one last look at my e-mail before I get to bed by 11.30 p.m.
What is it that you enjoy most about your current job?
The best part of my job is connecting with our global team—I learn so much about how we do things outside of India. With Accenture being a leader in innovation, it’s great to have this view of the cutting-edge work we do globally.
Did you always know that you want to work in this field? How did you decide to go into this profession?
I never thought I would work in cybersecurity. As luck would have it, at my previous organization I joined a group that was developing a security product. It was pretty exciting and I decided to stay on in this domain. What I love most about this domain is the chance to work on new technologies. In fact, I was into web technologies in early 1997 and started working on e-commerce in its earlier stage. So learning new things became part of my forte. When I was given an opportunity to learn cybersecurity, I jumped at the chance—and now it’s been almost 19 years in this domain.
It’s no secret that many women in this industry have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it?
Personally, I’m lucky that I’ve not faced any discrimination. However, what we need to understand is that women are very different from men when it comes to talking about their achievements, which puts them at a disadvantage. Women seem to think they need to achieve 120 percent of their target before even talking about it. This is a real issue and I have learnt it the hard way. Once you start talking about your achievements, it becomes much easier. Women are always in the minority when it comes to technology jobs, which makes it more important for women to talk about their skills and achievements.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the industry?
Women are more empathetic, considering their primary role as a caregiver at their homes. They always look at things from other people’s perspective, which aligns perfectly with Accenture’s “Truly human” theme.
As a woman employee, what benefits do you enjoy at Accenture?
I think for women, Accenture is the best place to work. Flexibility is the key. Because of most women’s primary role as a caregiver at home, when a child is sick, or a parent or in-laws need support, it is the women who take care of them, no matter how much we talk about both men and women taking equal responsibilities at home. Flexibility is also the key to balancing work and life in what I like to call work-life integration. Accenture also has a number of programs to support and mentor women. I have not seen any other organization spend so much time and effort in developing their women the same way.
How does Accenture groom you into becoming a leader?
I was lucky to have a woman as my first mentor, in the early stages of my career. I have mentors in the organization right now who I can reach out to for advice, which is critical to success.
In terms of upskilling, how do you think Accenture is placed to meet future industry demands?
We are in the technology business and it is very important to upskill or reskill on an ongoing basis. The shelf life of a technology is relatively short so if we need to be the best, we need to be a constant learner. Accenture has always provided all its employees with the tools and methods to learn new technologies and keep us relevant.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the industry? What do you wish you had known?
There is no one formula to be successful—choose your own path and figure out what works for you. You can pick up cues from someone else’s career, but at the end, it is for you to decide. Keep yourself relevant by being a constant learner, open up and connect with people, talk about your achievements, find a mentor and a sponsor, find a best friend at work, build a strong support system and most importantly, never let go when it gets tough.
Based on your own experience, would you say that you’ve seen improvements in diversity over the years?
Yes, there have been several changes in the past few years, specifically in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. When I was doing my bachelor’s degree in engineering, we were four girls in a class of 30. When I started working for a startup after graduating, I was the only woman in a company of 50 people. Things have changed now. We see diversity numbers increasing every year. This is because companies are increasingly rolling out programs that support diversity numbers, which is a good sign.
How do you balance work and your personal life?
I call this work-life integration. I prioritize my work or personal life based on what is important at a given point of time. What I like is that Accenture gives me the flexibility to prioritize. Occasionally, I step out to attend a parent teacher’s meeting at my daughter’s school. Other times, I work on the weekends to close an important deliverable. This flexibility has really helped me manage both my work and personal life effectively.
A gadget you can’t live without:
I really don’t like gadgets, so I don’t have one that I cannot live without. However, based on the nature of my job, a smart phone is something that has to be with me at all times.
How do you recharge?
I love spending time with my daughter. We talk about the latest book she is reading, a sketch she drew or the music she is listening to. Apart from that, as a family we talk about new technologies related to green energy, this is our favorite topic at the dinner table as well as on weekends.
A new music band or book or sport which has caught your attention:
Recently, I have been reading up on the minimalist lifestyle as I realized our lifestyle is becoming increasingly complex. A book that has currently caught my attention is a self-help book by Marie Kondo.
A piece of advice that sticks with you:
Never give up when it gets tough.
A book or movie that has the power to inspire:
“The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne
She is my first boss and a best friend.
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