Women technologists’ career advice to their younger selves
November 5, 2019
November 5, 2019
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There’s never been a better time for women to grow their careers in tech.
There are long-standing perceptions about working in technology: You need an engineering or mathematics degree. Gender bias is a barrier. There’s no work-life balance. You have to be a coder (although you could be, if that’s what you wanted).
But those perceptions are far from today’s reality.
From using innovative technologies such as IoT devices and wearables to advising clients about cybersecurity practices to managing a diverse portfolio of solutions and services, working in technology offers boundless career opportunities.
Meet seven women at different stages and working in various technology careers at Accenture. They share their tips for building a career in tech and the advice they would tell their younger selves.
Madison Daniel, Consulting Development Analyst, Seattle
What I do: I am a Change Management Analyst working on a supply-chain technology implementation project.
Advice to my younger self: Working in tech can be whatever you make of it. There are opportunities to explore new technologies and business roles, as long as you are willing to learn.
Advice to women in tech: Be curious! The most helpful thing I did when deciding to pursue a career in technology was to get a basic understanding of many different technologies before diving deep into a few specific ones.
Overcoming career challenges: One of my greatest challenges was deciding where to begin my career. I asked myself, where will I be challenged and encouraged to become a better version of me? I knew that Accenture was full of people that would inspire me and push me to achieve great things.
Emily Meltzer, Technology Consulting Manager, Washington, D.C.
What I do: I oversee a team of around 30 developers for a custom SAP implementation sustainment project in our defense space. I work closely with the client on modernizing processes, including guiding them through agile process transformations and expanding their DevOps toolset.
Advice to my younger self: I wish I spent more time considering how a technology career would allow me to feel differentiated yet fulfilled. I could have spent more time solidifying my technical foundation during my undergraduate studies.
Advice to women in tech: People are generally happy to share their wisdom with those just starting out. Don’t be afraid to network and get insight and advice from people—especially women—who are in different technology roles and at various points of their careers.
Overcoming career challenges: I’ve sometimes struggled with others’ perceptions of my abilities because of my age and gender. I defer to others’ areas of expertise while also exerting my authority when necessary, which often helps lead to establishing a positive working relationship with mutual respect.
Avani Patel, Security Consulting Manager, Atlanta
What I do: As a manager in Accenture’s security practice, I help clients with security program strategy through my expertise in security governance, risk and compliance.
Advice to my younger self: Don’t be afraid to learn and accept that technology continues to evolve. It’s OK to focus on specific areas of technology and not to feel pressured to know everything.
Advice to women in tech: Get involved in your local community, or build a network through your current contacts to explore career opportunities with hands-on work experience. Look for training opportunities that align to industry best practices.
Overcoming career challenges: When I needed to establish credibility for a specific technology or security capability, I took time to learn and found mentors who helped provide the right training path. And when I’ve faced the challenge of “trying to fit in” in a work environment that tended to be male-dominant, I worked through it by communicating with leadership.
Pamela Perkins, Technology Consulting Manager, Austin
What I do: I recently joined the Accenture Google Business Group as the Global Program Manager for SAP on Google Cloud Platform Play, where I am responsible for managing a diverse portfolio of projects.
Advice to my younger self: I wish I could tell my younger self the importance of building a personal brand, because my work will not speak for itself.
Advice to women in tech: Embrace your past experiences and knowledge to build or grow your career in technology. You may be surprised to learn that your past is the key to unlocking your future.
Overcoming career challenges: I've had my share of career setbacks that resulted in slow to no growth or advancement throughout my 20-year career. I kept learning and exploring and eventually overcame those challenges by being versatile and resilient, and by leveraging the diversity of my past experiences.
Nisha Sharma, Managing Director, Accenture Digital, Miami
What I do: I'm the Global Offering Lead for our Accenture Google Cloud Business Group. I oversee the management and development of our Google Cloud offerings, solutions and services.
Advice to my younger self: The world of technology is fast-paced and constantly changing and evolving; you'll never get bored. Be ready to explore and learn as much as you can. It's up to you to decide what you want to do.
Advice to women in tech: You may be one of a few women—or perhaps the only woman—on your team. Don’t let that get in the way of your performance. You are here for a reason; do your thing!
Overcoming career challenges: One of my early challenges was having mismatched expectations of my role between myself and my supervisor. Always discuss your role and expectations up front as soon as possible, and ask for feedback.
Alesha Tomlinson, Digital Business Integration Senior Manager, Atlanta
What I do: As the Go-to-Market Lead for our Industry X.0 clients in the Southeast, I help clients transform the way they work and generate revenue through connected products and services.
Advice to my younger self: A career in technology can be rewarding, but it’s not a space you can ever feel really comfortable in. Given the rapid pace of change, get comfortable being uncomfortable, and have fun with it!
Advice to women in tech: Curiosity about technology coupled with a desire to learn are all you need to get started to be successful in a tech career. You will find plenty of resources to help you gain the knowledge and experience you seek.
Overcoming career challenges: In most cases, technology is the easy part. How you motivate and lead or work alongside people who are completely different from you is what can be the biggest challenge. I’ve overcome this by recognizing and celebrating people’s differences, respectfully advocating for myself, my team, or my point of view and remembering that there isn’t one right answer.
Allison Youngdahl, Technology Research Associate Principal, San Francisco
What I do: As part of the Digital Experiences R&D team at Accenture Labs in San Francisco, I build customer-facing proof of concepts using innovative technologies such as IoT devices and wearables.
Advice to my younger self: Never stop learning, and always be ready to pick up new skills quickly.
Advice to women in tech: Seek out a mentor to discuss how to best achieve your career goals. You can then pay it forward by being a champion for other women and sharing your skills and experiences.
Overcoming career challenges: One of my early challenges was public speaking, and I was given opportunities to practice and participate in a public-speaking class at Accenture. Now, after speaking at conferences and global broadcasts in front of hundreds of people, I even started enjoying it.
Driving innovation and growth starts with a culture of equality. We’re working to close the gender gap in computing and inspire the next generation of women technologists.
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