What would you tell your younger self?

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Don’t underestimate the importance of communication – learn those skills early on and continue to hone them.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  How easy it is to look back and wish you’d done something differently.  Those decisions shape who we are and most of us wouldn’t change them.  But I was asked this question recently and it made me stop and think about what it is that I’ve learned in my career to date, and what advice I’d pass on to those starting out.  It also made me dwell on the role that Capgemini has played in my professional and personal development and as a result, my ability to ace my career.

  1. Communication is king

My degree was in journalism, PR and Political science although I didn’t necessarily expect to go into a career in those fields.  They were just areas that interested me and areas where I thought I could learn some useful skills.  During the course of my career, perhaps the most important thing I have learnt is that regardless of the industry you work in, not being able to communicate is a deal breaker.   You can’t escape needing to communicate and doing it well really does make all the difference.

After graduating, I joined an IT organisation and have worked in IT ever since.  Companies have changed, IT has changed, and ways of working have changed.  As a result, my skills had to develop, grow and change too.  But what has not changed is the importance placed on the ability to write and communicate well.  The ability to articulate what a project or issue is about, without necessarily being technical, means I can still do interesting and demanding work.

  1. Be open to opportunity

I’ve never had a particularly clear set of goals.  I’m not one of those people with a clear map of where I wanted to go, but I knew what interested me.  Instead, I’ve always been open to different things and with that came the opportunities that I would never have thought possible.

Capgemini has changed beyond recognition over the nearly 30 years I’ve been here, and it’s given me the chance to transform and to grow.

I also decided early on to say YES where possible.  Saying yes means you are open to opportunities and that allows you to keep learning, which in turn makes life interesting.

  1. Find ways to learn

Whether it’s by accepting company nominations for training programmes (such as the OWL – Outstanding Women in Leadership programme for which I was nominated) or searching out learning opportunities online through the business.

Try to leverage learning that doesn’t necessarily cost.  Webinars through association memberships, courses available from MyLearning, or dedicated learning weeks such as Infra Week provide amazing opportunities to cherry pick learning that is relevant.  Don’t stop learning or being curious.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use your voice

The younger me maybe asked questions but didn’t speak up after. (Now I perhaps speak up too much!)

But don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge opinion. It allows you to learn from others.  It allows you to challenge what you know and think, and to challenge what others think too.  And just maybe, others can learn from you too.

  1. Change is good. Change is to be expected. Embrace it.

I don’t think I would have stayed with Capgemini for a long as I have if Capgemini hadn’t changed as much as it has over the years – from a professional services focus in the US when I joined to what it is today, a global consulting and technology services company – and if I hadn’t been willing (and able) to embrace that change and take advantage of the opportunities that resulted from that change.  Capgemini is a technology company which adds the human touch to what it does and that gives you huge opportunity to develop in a very fast moving, highly technical environment. I didn’t need to look elsewhere for challenges, to take on different roles, or to grow professionally and personally.

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