Connected Girls, Creating Brighter Futures: In conversation with Eloise Bouko

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International Girls in ICT Day aims at encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Capgemini strongly promotes gender balance in ICT, and always champions women in technology. To inspire more girls to choose a career in ICT and make their dream a reality, we bring to you a series of interviews of some of the most successful and prominent women employees at Capgemini Belgium, who talk about why it is important for more girls to take up careers in ICT and how we can inspire them in doing so.

We have with us today Eloise Bouko – Change and Release Manager, Capgemini Belgium.

Hello Eloise! Tell us about yourself
Eloise: Hi, I’m Eloise Bouko. I’ve always been an optimistic, positive, and a fun-loving person, and these traits are dominant in both my professional and personal life. I love to travel, discover new things, and always in for challenges. Technology and innovation drive me in my career and the satisfaction of having happy clients, is what makes me wake up every day and go to work with a smile on my face!

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ICT?
Eloise: From an early age I was always fascinated by this thing called a PC. The first PC that I had was an old X86 with 64K of memory and a black and white CRT (smiles). It was much later that I started assembling my own PCs with material bought separately. I also tried writing some code in Turbo Pascal without success, but by that time, it was quite clear that I would pursue a career in ICT. My first job turned out to be a dream come true, and I became a Hardware Support Engineer for a large bank in Belgium! Needless to say, I was the only girl over there, but was widely appreciated for my knowledge and technological prowess. It was during that time that I wanted to push my ICT career further and enrolled myself as an ICT student at an evening school. After graduating, I got my first job as a Software Engineer in that same bank and the cherry on the cake was that I was sent to Barcelona. It was from there that I grew up to be the ICT woman I am now, respected by colleagues and clients alike, with a keen eye on quality which I think we as women can absolutely bring to the profession and the ICT world in general.

How has Capgemini helped shape your career in the tech industry?
Eloise: I joined Capgemini in February 2015 and it was definitely a turning point in my career in the sense that, it helped shape my leadership skills, entrepreneurship, helped me sharpen my knowledge and technological skills, and the eagerness to share. I found myself in the motto of “Master of your own destiny”, and did quite that. I started my own capability improvement initiative within our local business unit with labs for hands-on learning of new technologies which were taken into our Capability Office as stream. I am still the lead of that stream and today we are improving our skills in Blockchain. In early 2021, I was the first woman ever to be appointed the lead of the Belgian Software Engineering Community. As an Adobe Experience Manager I travelled to the US to help out a project in peril. So yes, I took all the opportunities Capgemini has given me and at the same time created my own ones to shape my career and will continue doing so.

Why do you think it is important to promote technology career opportunities for girls?
Eloise: Because technology is so in need of more women. Too many technology projects lack the female touch and we bring a different vision on processes and way of working. The profession is so in need of quality and eye for detail so that technology projects are delivered not only on time but also with quality in mind. Looking at myself, when I write code, I always ensure it is maintainable, testable and working. When I deliver something, it not only has to look good, but also pass my first tests, so that when it is tested by the testing team, they find minimal bugs, or ideally none. I think this rigorousness is what is missing with a lot of our male colleagues. Sorry guys (laughs)!

How do you think girls can be encouraged to choose a career in ICT?
Eloise: I think the ICT profession has to become more attractive! The profession has the connotation of being for geeks and nerds, which it isn’t. You don’t have to be asocial, living only in front of your screen, eating crisps all the time and not taking care of yourself! I only shortly had the experience when I introduced myself to people and said I work in ICT, they went like “Oh, so you’re a geek.” We should really come out of such mindset and connotation. When we say: “Hey, when I grow up, I want to work with computers” everyone should be saying, “That’s really cool, you’re actually going to help shape the future,” instead of saying “Oh no, you’re going to be a geek, no social life and no touch with the real world.” Being a woman, I know that this thought process withholds us from choosing a career in ICT. As everything we’re taught is to be trendy, hip, follow the crowd, be girly, and choose a career in nursing, teaching or other caring professions. Girls are perfectly capable of pursuing a successful careers in ICT, but the world should stop from telling us otherwise.

Do you have kids? If so, how do you inspire them to take up careers in science and technology/ ICT?
Eloise: No, I don’t. But if I do, I’d inspire them to take up careers in ICT by sharing my own experience with them, and telling them that we can enjoy and love technology and at the same time be hip, trendy, and enjoy life to the fullest!

A message that you would like to share with girls who aspire to pursue a career in ICT
Eloise: Go for it! Go help shape the future. We desperately need more women in ICT. Women bring another perspective to this field by thinking out the box, willing to level up the quality of delivery, and focusing on the end-result with a high level of customer satisfaction. All encompassed in more gentleness! This is our force. #womenpowerinICT.

Thanks so much Eloise! It was indeed a great conversation! Your inspiring career in ICT will motivate many others, and we wish you continued success!