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Life at Capgemini

Authors of change

Books that can transform the world

Elizabeth Kiehner and Anjali Pendlebury-Green are two Capgemini colleagues who share a side-hustle – as authors of important stories that are often overlooked

The power of the written word has inspired Capgemini colleagues to start their own creative writing projects (source iStock)

Writing creatively is an exercise in transformation. It transforms the minds of readers by opening up their worlds to new and alternative ideas and perspectives. It often transforms authors too, as through the writing and editing process they hone their thinking and refine the words they use to connect their ideas to their intended audience.

That has certainly been the case for two Capgemini colleagues, Elizabeth Kiehner and Anjali Pendlebury-Green, who have both had their writing published recently.

Elizabeth, who is a vice president at Capgemini Invent in New York, has co-authored a graphic novel, Good Girls Don’t Make History, which depicts key moments in the lives of campaigning women throughout United States history as they fight for equality, including the right to vote.

Anjali, who is a customer experience services leader at Capgemini in London, joined forces with 21 other women to co-author a book, Significant Women: Leaders Reveal What Matters Most, which shares their personal experiences and thoughts about how other women might benefit from the lessons they learned on their own journeys.

Good Girls Don’t Make History, published by Wide Eyed Editions (source: supplied) To learn more, click on the image

Learning through storytelling

Good Girls Don’t Make History was four years in the making,” says Elizabeth. “I had realized that, in 2020, it was 100 years since women won the right to vote in the US, and I didn’t see anything around that portrayed the story in a way that would be appealing to young adults. My family has a real appreciation of graphic novels – they can tell stories in a colorful and dynamic way – so that format seemed a good way to celebrate what happened 100 years ago.”

To keep the book on schedule, Elizabeth worked with an illustrator and a co-author, and even got input from her husband. “It was all done on weekends,” she says, “and even sometimes on vacation. On one holiday in Mexico, my husband and I were working on the book almost the whole time, albeit in a warm and sunny environment by the pool. I also worked on it during long-haul flights to Hong Kong, Australia, and India.”

Excerpt from Good Girls Don’t Make History, published by Wide Eyed Editions (source: supplied)

Her ambition for the book wasn’t to write a bestseller, but to get it into libraries and schools. “I wanted to get the history in front of people so they could actually appreciate it and see what lessons we can learn from it.”

Elizabeth also learned a lot about herself during the writing process. “It was a journey of self-discovery for me, too,” she says. “There were names I wasn’t aware of and amazing stories I’d never heard. I was quite shocked at what I didn’t know. And that takes me back to the point that these stories really aren’t taught in schools. To get the book out there felt really important.”

An author’s journey

Significant Women, published by Soul Excellence (source: supplied) To learn more, click on the image

Anjali’s writing journey was also one of discovery. She was approached by a publisher who was looking for women in leadership positions to tell their own stories about the challenges and obstacles they faced along the way.  

“In 1999, I moved out of my parents’ house to start my career,” she says. “I wasn’t married, and to make that kind of move in India at that time was very rare. All the women who have contributed to the book have grown up with different, sometimes challenging experiences. The publisher wanted to bring together a collection of women’s stories, to let people know that it’s OK to come from different backgrounds and have these experiences.”

Again, the writing process proved transformative. “It meant you had to overcome some of your own fears about telling your story. Some of the stories in the book touch on very sensitive issues. But learning how to tell these kinds of stories is empowering. It was an enriching and humbling experience to find out that lots of people have faced challenges in their own lives and careers. There will always be somebody who has had a similar experience to you ­– you’re never isolated. I really enjoyed the process and would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Connecting work and creativity

To succeed, authors often need to find a  balance between work and creative writing (source: iStock)

Anjali says her colleagues at Capgemini have been supportive of her writing. “Everyone has been complimentary,” she says. Elizabeth presented her book to colleagues during Women’s History Month. “They’ve been very supportive and interested in it, which I appreciate.”

She also makes the connection between some of the book’s topics and her team’s work at Invent. “It is ultimately a story of transformation,” she says. “It’s about people who had to be persistent and resilient and get their message out through different channels. You can apply those positive principles in your day-to-day work, through any change management project.”

Elizabeth and Anjali agree that getting a book published requires a good team and a lot of effort, especially when writing as a sideline to a career. But the rewards of sharing stories that have the potential to transform the lives of others are many. In fact, this was highlighted recently when Good Girls Don’t Make History won a Social Justice Literature Award from the International Literacy Association. Both authors also say that there are many stories still to be told. Indeed, both are working on new books. Watch this space…