She started small and dreamed big.
Without any fear of prejudice in a male-dominated IT industry, Anahita Varma worked hard and rose through the ranks. As she tasted success along the way, she built an army of women trailblazers who continue to raze every hurdle in their way as they blaze their own paths to career success.
Anahita shares how women in IT can get ahead and power their careers.
Spending two highly successful decades in the IT industry, how did you get your start?
I am a computer engineer, but not by choice. I always wanted to be a doctor. Since I come from a family of engineers, all Indian Institute of Technology alumni, the career road map written for me was also engineering. I tell everyone that I was born and raised in the IT industry.
I started my career in 1995 as an assistant systems engineer (ASE) trainee. I’ve spent the last eight years of my 24-year career journey with Accenture. I am a pure techie at heart who has grown from strength to strength to reach the level I am at today.
From ASE to Accenture managing director, you’ve come a long way. What do you love about your current role?
In my current role, I lead Financial Services for Canada and Insurance for the northeast region of the U.S. as part of Accenture Technology.
I love meeting with chief information officers of so many big companies and helping them ride the waves of change in the digital era. I help them devise road maps, implement new IT technologies and plan and execute their strategies.
New technologies are paving the way for business and social change. How can leaders help clients and communities prosper?
There’s a lot of noise in the market about technologies and methodologies such as cloud, blockchain, artificial intelligence, DevOps and agile. It’s imperative for us to first learn about these technologies, adopt them internally and then help our clients move toward implementing them.
Many companies are still uncertain whether they should adopt these technologies. We help show them the way. With all the information available, we derive the best insights to guide our clients accordingly.
In 2017, you won the prestigious Accenture Global Inclusion & Diversity Champion Award. What did this award mean to you?
My Accenture journey has been very interesting and fruitful. Winning the award will always be the defining moment of my career.
The biggest role I’ve played so far is Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) lead for our Advanced Technology Centers in India, working to improve our gender diversity and persons with disabilities ratio in India.
I’m very proud of my team that worked with relentless focus to create many unique programs for women available today at Accenture: Returning Mothers, Grow Women in Leadership and the Annual Women’s Leadership Summit. These programs continue to bring value for our people and our company.
What drives your passion for inclusion and diversity?
When I joined the IT industry, and when I got married and had children, it was tough to navigate in a male-dominated field. There were hardly any policies in place to support working moms. My journey has been great, but balancing the seesaw of career and motherhood has not been easy.
Understanding the hardships and challenges women go through to advance and succeed, I am passionate about making the road easier for female colleagues.
What three things do you love about Accenture?
First, our focus and commitment on training and mentorship. I continue to learn each day by leveraging different platforms and spending time with my mentors. Without this I could not have meaningful conversations with my clients.
Second, Accenture strongly believes that teams that work together, do well together. The whole concept of building high-performing teams to execute projects, getting the right mix of people and upskilling them is simply fantastic.
Third, I love the focus on gender diversity because I feel that while many companies talk about their I&D principles, Accenture is one organization that actually practices them.
What hobbies keep you energized and productive?
I recently hiked in Leh Ladakh with my super supportive husband Rajesh, my 20-year-old daughter Priyanka and my 13-year-old son Aryan. Together, we enjoy exploring new places and soaking in different cultures and experiences. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing, isn’t it?
Finally, what’s your message to women?
My belief is that it’s essential to dream big. You must have an aim, an ambition and a passion to get there.
Women have pressure at work along with guilt about not spending enough time with their kids. The amount of time is not as important as the quality of that time. Speaking about my own children, they have grown up without us spending a lot of time with them each day, but they have grown up as fine individuals. And they are learning many lessons about hard work, sacrifice and reward. So, continue to focus on your job and rise to the top.
Dream big and do work that makes a difference every day. Find your fit with Accenture.
Stay tuned for more inspiring Her Tech-Leadership blogs featuring some of our most powerful women leaders at Accenture.
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