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She’s been breaking conventions left, right and center.
Throughout her phenomenal Accenture career journey, Sailaja Bhagavatula has braved sweeping change in the IT industry to keep Accenture and our clients at the forefront of innovation, using cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions such as Salesforce.
As she scaled new heights in her career, she also inspired many other women along the way to break barriers and bolster their careers.
Sailaja talks about the importance of taking risks, her thriving technology career and why she’s passionate about cultivating an inclusive work environment for our people in India.
My career journey leading in the New
Even after 16 years, each day at Accenture inspires me.
I’m challenged to experiment in new areas with cutting-edge technologies, and I continue to build amazing relationships with colleagues from all over the world.
In my initial days, Accenture was still setting up operations in India. I was probably among the first 100 people to join our Bengaluru office, and I’ve watched our team grow to more than 100,000 people.
During my career, I’ve witnessed rapid changes in the IT industry, from Y2K and mainframe to internet, cloud and now the digital and post-digital eras. Taking full control of the wheel, I took on diverse roles—setting up centers of excellence for emerging SaaS technologies, managing delivery for large-scale projects and driving client-centric innovation programs.
Today, I am enjoying the most exciting phase of my career. As the CloudFirst Practice Lead in India, I am responsible for all the exciting work we do for our global clients using leading-edge platforms such as Salesforce, Workday and Pega.
And as the Inclusion & Diversity Sponsor for India, I am passionate about our market-leading I&D programs. They fuel our mission to create and foster a culture of equality and they drive innovation.
Leadership challenge, accepted
The more I grew in my career, the more I got thrown into new and sometimes very uncomfortable situations. At times like these, I have never been afraid to challenge the status quo, take risks and make bold decisions.
For instance, I was already working on a mature technology when I decided to take on a new role as a delivery lead for our Salesforce programs in 2011. I knew that I was taking a big risk. But the thrill of exploring a completely new area and constantly challenging myself helped me rise and emerge as a more well-rounded leader.
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I have never been afraid to challenge the status quo, take risks and make bold decisions.
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Through the years, this has been one of our fastest-growing businesses and has offered ample opportunities for me to expand my role and contribute in different dimensions. I like taking risks, and I encourage women pursuing careers in technology to do the same.
My teammates recently pointed out that they admire how focused I am, that I always ask the right questions at the right times. Taking charge of a situation and asking the right questions has not only helped me understand our clients’ needs better, it also has made my team confident in my leadership abilities.
Important life lessons
I was born in Vishakhapatnam, a quaint coastal city in Andhra Pradesh. I lived with three generations under the same roof—a constant source of happiness and valuable life lessons.
My grandmother once told me something that will stay with me forever: “Be independent and courageous to take on any situation in life.”
I remember being at a crossroad when my parents asked if I wanted to study engineering or pursue a less intense academic path. I chose to study engineering, which has helped me grow an exciting career in the technology space.
I have accepted and overcome some difficult challenges in life, and they’ve helped me become more independent and confident.
Striking the perfect balance
I believe everyone must define their own rules for balancing professional and personal life. For me, balance is having the ability to completely focus on work without being worried about my home duties, and, on the other hand, having flexibility at work when things at home demand my attention.
At home, I make it a point to put work aside and give priority to my husband and two lovely sons. From playing badminton and swimming to traveling the world, everything we do together helps me stay energized and bring my best to work each day.
My advice: Learn, grow and have fun
Thinking of pursuing a career in technology? Here are a few nuggets of advice.
Time is really precious, so don’t let it slip through your hands.
Stay curious, ask a lot of questions, and never stop learning. Take advantage of learning and development opportunities, including online courses. It’s the only way you can stay relevant in today’s fast-changing technology landscape.
And, as you learn and grow, don’t forget to have some fun along the way. Pick up a new hobby or go back to something you loved doing in your childhood. It will help you focus on yourself, become a well-rounded individual and stand out.
Drive your own career path in new and exciting ways. Find your fit with Accenture.
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