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Vote for Deborah D’Hauwer as Young ICT Lady of the Year!

29 Nov 2021

A management consultant by profession, a triathlete, a master’s degree holder at twenty years, and a role model who encourages young girls get interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through her charity STEM. Meet Deborah Deepa D’Hauwer, Manager within TMT, and Lead of diversity and inclusion at Capgemini Invent Belgium, who has been nominated for the prestigious Knack ICT Young Lady 2022. She shares her journey and experiences on being nominated.

Hi Deborah! Congratulations on the nomination. Tell us about yourself.
 Hi! I am originally from India and was adopted at very young age. I, initially, did not have an educational background in information communication and technology (ICT). But my first experience was in the telco world and it gave me exposure to a lot of things in the field of information technology. I am extremely passionate about this industry. I work within the telecom, media, and technology (TMT) team and handle media and entertainment, and sports as well. I also lead the diversity and inclusion at Capgemini Invent, Belgium.
Besides that, I am very active in politics and a board member of some organizations within Belgium. I also have my own charity STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. My charity focuses on getting girls, kids and teenagers aged between 10 to 12 get interested in the STEM field. I work with schools in Brussels and more specifically in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek.

What inspired you to take up a career in ICT?
I have been very passionate about communication. Of course, when I was in university in 2010-11, the whole digital exploded. There was Facebook, Twitter, Myspace etc. I was very passionate about the way the digital revolution came by. At some point, I had the opportunity to join a British telecom company, and it gave me exposure to the importance of communication, (even a physical internet line for example).
The environment needed and fostered new talents, and women in specific, because it was, and still is, a very male dominated environment.

Your experience in being nominated for the Knack ICT Young Lady Awards
I am very delighted and honored because my role is an atypical ICT profile, and I refuse to be seen as a stereotypical ICT person. For me, ICT is much beyond coding or implementing programs.

As a management consultant, I need to make the bridge between very technical projects, for example 5G projects. I need to understand technology from an engineering perspective but do not need to implement it. Another example would be: a project within a telco company where they are migrating customers from one system to another, and that is affecting the product portfolios. Based on analysis and market trends, my role here is to consult which portfolios will be there in the future. So, there always is an IT layer. But I don’t do programming and implement systems, but rather focus on the business side. Of course, it super important to understand i.a. how you code as well.

Honestly, I am happy with the recognition as it is built on a lot of hard work. I hope we can show young people and the industry in general that if you work hard and enjoy what you are doing, it will make you happy. I am living the best version of myself today!

Our readers would like to know more about the Knack ICT Young Lady Awards
Knack, a Belgian magazine, organizes the ICT Young Lady Awards and I am amongst the ten candidates shortlisted. The winners will be selected through voting. It’s an award recognizing young women in the IT industry. I think it is really important to have role models, especially female role models because for me gender diversity or equality doesn’t start at the top. It starts at the bottom, and for that you need role models.

Talking about role models, who is your role model?
They are two and they go far back in history. First is Margaret Thatcher. I have always admired her for the work she has done in the political landscape. The second one goes even further back in history: I really look up to the women in Bletchley Park (UK) who decoded German messages.

That is quite inspirational! So, how would you inspire more women to take up a career in ICT?
Let me answer this with a pragmatic example. I was talking to my neighbors in Brussels, where I live. They are a family with seven kids. I asked them what they want to become, and it was very typical of the guys to say that they wanted to be an engineer, while the girl said she was interested to understand how a shop operates. Their father wasn’t sure whether his daughter could be an engineer. I told him she could always be one. I want to show young people that no matter what your background is or no matter what your interests are, there’s still a possibility in IT, which will always be there. You cannot hide IT. You cannot hide technology. It all starts working with a computer. It’s such a versatile job. There are so many angles, and people need to discover the angle that suits their personality. When I talk to people, I always look to inspire them with my energy and positivity.\

How do you see this recognition shaping your professional career?
This is a high, but life is not built on highs right? You got to keep on working. It is nice to get this recognition, but this is 1%. This is the surface you see. I just think I am going to keep doing what I love to do, and I am going to keep doing my work. This recognition is the result of my work. My goal is to be happy. It’s nice to be recognized, and I hope it will inspire people.
But it is also a reward for myself to look back and say I am okay and fine! It’s a way of telling myself that I am on the right track. Also, it’s important to tell ourselves, to love ourselves because if we don’t do it no one else will do it!

Any inspiring words that you would like to share with our readers?
Find values that drive you. You can have goals in your life like the aspiration to have a big house or a promotion. But if they are not value driven, they are empty! Find what defines you as a person. Try to live on to those values and use them as a basis for what you want to achieve in life.

A word of advice for women in ICT
Some people might say this is positive discrimination. But, firstly, this isn’t the case, and secondly, it is still very hard for women just because biologically and psychologically, we were built different. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by men. Be yourself and claim yourself because no one else is going to claim yourself. Value yourself. You can be there, you should be there, and you should be seen!

Tell us about your hobbies and passions.
Of course, I am passionate about technology, media and entertainment. I must say that I am in a couple of boards, and I am one of the youngest board members in Belgium, which is something I am very proud of. Besides that, I am very involved in music and I do triathlons. So, I am a triathlete. I think it is absolutely necessary to make time for those things because they make me happy. I can swim at a stretch for two hours or ride a bike for seven hours. I love triathlons.

What is your success mantra?
No one burns out from working too hard. Everyone can work hard but one can burnout if you don’t take enough breaks. I decide very consciously on what I do and which projects I take on.

Thank you, Deborah for sharing these thoughts. Wishing you all the best for the awards and in life!

Vote for Deborah D’Hauwer as the Knack ICT Young Lady of the year 2022. Please note, voting lines close on 19th December 2021.

Click here to vote for Deborah D’Hauwer.

Read more about the ICT Young Lady Awards here.