Turning challenges into learning opportunities

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My journey started out with me wanting to have a career in nothing IT related. I thought I would be a surgical nurse, but quickly realized that the sight of blood was not something I could stomach. So then I thought I would build robots that help handicapped people and thus decided to embark on a career in IT.

Well, I haven’t built any robots yet, but I do have a career in IT.

Looking back on my career, there were many opportunities that I didn’t take in the early days. But, I was always conservative and played things safe. My biggest barrier was always fear – fear that I didn’t know it all, fear that I wouldn’t be enough, fear that people would realize that I didn’t have the same education as they did, fear that I would fail. This changed when I joined Capgemini, mainly because of the people and knowledge they shared with me. Suddenly surrounded by inspiring and helpful colleagues, I was intrigued and curious about their roles and impressed with how they handled themselves in challenging situations.

I joined Capgemini as a Service Center Team Leader. The first few months were tough and I struggled. I would ask questions, go to my manager for direction, and realize that she did not always have the answers. I was frustrated because my customers were complaining and I didn’t know how things would pan out.  I had to make a choice – quickly. I had a lot of ideas in mind but wasn’t sharing my thoughts because I feared what people would think. I realized that I knew more than I thought I did and that I could help reduce customers’ frustrations while providing solutions that could make the new company I worked for successful. Eventually, I started speaking up and found that many of these ideas or recommendations were being accepted, which was a little different than what I had been used to. At Capgemini, I could bring up a solution and be encouraged to implement it. And while initially my fears would creep up, I always took the challenge and began to use it as a learning opportunity – regardless of whether it was successful or not. I would ask questions and people would provide me with guidance or recommendations.

As I was encouraged by my leaders to take on more responsibilities, I pushed myself and slowly overcame my fears. I started welcoming new challenges because I realized that any knowledge I gained would be with me forever and make me a better and a stronger person. I embraced sharing my newly gained knowledge with peers and staff. I took on new responsibilities, constantly working to improve processes and procedures to improve gaps and improve inefficiencies.

In 2013, I was selected to participate in the first Capgemini protégé program, where we were assigned a mentor and invited to participate leadership meetings so that we could experience what our leaders had to deal with every day. In addition, by the end of the program, we had to come up with and present a revenue-generating business plan. This was very eye opening and encouraging and helped me allay any fears of moving up in my career. This program was very motivating and pushed me to work harder. We learned the difference between a manager and a leader and we had speakers talk about financials, contracts, and leadership skills. We were each assigned a personal mentor who helped us understand what leadership expects from presentations and how to make a business proposal. Today, I formally mentor two Capgemini employees and informally help many others.

To address my concerns regarding my lack of education, I decided to go back to school. I finished by BA in two years, juggling family, work, and school. As challenging as that was, it was something that I needed to do for myself.

Capgemini has many training programs that further career growth.  Over the years, I’ve been offered several leadership programs. For example, this past year, I was nominated to participate in the OWL (Outstanding Women in Leadership) program, a program designed for women who exceed their performance expectations and are recognized as a potential future leaders and ambassadors for other women. I am honored to have participated in a program that has helped me further build my confidence in an industry dominated by men. I started noticing differences in how men and women addressed their fears and realized that I don’t have to know everything. I don’t have to have all the answers. I just need to have the courage to take on the challenges, be resourceful enough to find the answers, and expand my network within and beyond our organization. I enjoy many of the activities in OWL because I can relate them to day-to-day business and they allow me to try new ways of handling challenging situations and with feedback at the end.

Going forward I will continue to turn challenges into learning opportunities. As I continue in my career, I will take these lessons and apply them; test what works and tweak what doesn’t. Women can get ahead and be amazing leaders! For me it came down to me getting out of my own head and putting myself down thinking I would not be good enough because I didn’t know everything. I now know that I am good enough and intend to achieve more in my career.

I will make my teams and my accounts successful. I can make a positive difference and you can too.

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