Everyone has some form of a bucket list. I recently had the chance to cross an item off mine, having completed my PADI Open Water certificate, meaning that I can now dive recreationally almost anywhere in the world. While I may not (yet) be able to wreck-dive or swim with a great white shark, it’s the first of many steps to my dream of swimming with orca whales.

Throughout the week-long training course I learned quite a lot about the most important aspects of diving, and it was after my first real sea dive that it hit me: in a way the very skills that made my diving experience work were also the ones that helped me through my two year journey in the CDC.

  • Keeping calm under pressure
    • The first time we practiced using only one regulator to breathe between two people on the bottom of the sea I had a brief moment of concern – if I made a mistake or panicked, not only would I endanger myself, but also the other people who were depending on my air supply. While, of course, real danger was minimal, not panicking in a moment of pressure, especially when others depend on you is something important. In projects with tight deadlines you may feel a similar emotion of not wanting to let your team down. Just like with diving, the worst thing you can do is panic and so learning how to keep calm and still focused on the task at hand will have a much better result.
  • Working together in a team
    • Your team is the most important part of every project – you don’t just work together, you are also each other’s support when something goes wrong, you stick together in hard times and celebrate together when you achieve your goals. Having a good team will ensure you succeed and that you also enjoy your time on the project. Similarly, in diving the people you are with can make sure you don’t get lost, that you are aware of how much air you have left, as well as make the experience more sociable. There are times when you may need to help each other whether you are stuck in kelp or in the intricacies of your project deliverables, but they’re always there to pull you out.
  • Keep breathing
    • As some of you may know, the number one rule of diving is to keep breathing under water in all circumstances. This simple step can save you from trouble, but is not always easy to adhere to – the first time I had to take my glasses off 13 metres deep and was unable to see anything with open eyes, I had to force myself to stick to the plan and not do something unreasonable. At work, I’ve experienced a few similar moments. On my first day at the company, we were told that a consultant is like a swan – always calm and composed on the top, while paddling on the bottom. When something goes wrong on a project, even at the most important step, what you must always do is to try and remain calm and continue delivering what you set out to do. Panicking will only waste valuable air and or time.

  • The kit
    Just like your diving centre, Capgemini will equip you will the right tools:

    • Your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) is like the core skills you continuously develop, this is basically what keeps you afloat in unknown waters.
    • Your regulator is like the training you get, it’s what ensures you’re able to keep breathing under pressure. One of my best experiences so far at Capgemini was going to the Consulting Skills Workshop near Paris – similarly to diving training, while we were there to learn crucial concepts, we also had a ton of fun and met some great people.
    • Moreover, the skills learned that can help others, such as helping a fellow CDCer with creating a process map when they’re really pressed for time.
    • Your oxygen tank contains the air that keeps you alive. How much air you have left also determines the amount of time you can spend underwater. Similarly in life, you only have a finite amount of time to balance work, internal work, social life, and well-needed rest time, so planning is very important.
    • Your dive watch and pressure gauge is like the internal network of personal development managers, mentors, buddies, and project leads; they keep you on track and make sure you don’t drift too deep.
  • The fun
    • After all the training, some fear, and the initial difficulty of being seasick and taking twice as long to go down due to an ear problem, taking the first few breaths in a strange new world is an experience I’ll never forget. Neither will I forget the first time I’ve had to present to an audience of 300 people, my first recommendation being accepted, or the great Friday nights out with my fellow CDC-ers.