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Making an impact: Cake, keeping critical infrastructure safe and not a hoodie in sight…Shana tells her story about making an impact as a woman in tech

Shana Dacres
18 May 2023

Our Making an Impact blog series will feature stories from women across Capgemini UK and how they’ve made an impact on the technology sector.

Shana shares what it’s been like to start out as a woman in tech, how she’s developed her career and becoming a first time Mum – all while pushing herself to get out of her comfort zone and take on new challenges.

From being a young woman starting out in tech, then a woman excelling in tech, to now a new Mum returning to tech, I consciously make a habit of trying new things, so I continue to push forward and lean into my insecurities and fears. Determination to pursue work I enjoy is the major motivation for me. From a young age, I have been interested in technology and despite things not always going to plan, I embrace all the challenges that working in cybersecurity brings. From being introduced to a computer in primary school, to now designing and securing applications for critical systems, working in technology is something which continues to excite and challenge me.

My career strategy is to do meaningful work which challenges me with a diverse group of people that are leaders in a range of areas. Working in Capgemini UK, specially within Cloud and Infrastructure Services, I experience this each and every day. I have a wealth of supporters who are truly invested in me and what I can achieve, I work on architecturally complex engagements which continue to challenge me, and my work is a critical part of the mission.

Shana’s work with Capgemini UK makes a real impact and keeps people (and ‘things’) safe.

Cybersecurity offers a wide variety of genuinely challenging and fascinating work. It fills me with a sense of pride and purpose knowing that my work is a critical part of a greater mission that keeps someone or something secure. In cybersecurity, there are frequent challenges and complexities that vary from those that you would see in any other domain. That’s why I love working within cybersecurity – it’s important work that makes an impact.

Despite the changes in direction, the changed plans and the different directions Shana has taken, she believes she has never lost out, but learned. Her positive attitude and tenacity have shaped her career to date, even if at times it takes a while for her to recognise her achievements.

Looking back on my journey to date, I realise that I have never lost. I left school wanting to study to become a teacher, however halfway through, I pivoted and made the choice to study ICT. I went to university with a plan to go into banking and I was sure I would remain a developer, coding complex solutions all day every day. However, here I am as an Architect drawing ‘pretty pictures’ – as I describe it to my niece. Every plan I have created, every opportunity I have had, every choice I have made, I have never lost. As Nelson Mandela said: “I never lose, I either win or I learn”. And I have had a lot of wins and learnings.

I embrace all the choices I have made, all the discomforts, vulnerability and courage that comes with learning; whether it’s picking up a new technology, stepping into a new role or working in a new industry. When I had the opportunity to move away from development and into architecture, I was very sceptical and nervous. My initial thought was that I’ve been a developer all these years and I love coding; architecture is not for someone like me, I will lose my skills. It took a lot of courage for me to step into that role and push through to gain respect and it was an uphill battle at times.

For a about a year, I didn’t dare call myself an architect, even though I was excelling in my role. All my development experience meant I could quickly understand the strategic ambitions, help to refine them and translate them into transitional steps for the development teams to achieve. I was gaining new skills; how to influence, coach, motivate and even defend (as an architect you will have to defend your architecture especially under the eyes of scrutiny). I was learning and winning.

No dark rooms and hoodies here, there’s karaoke, cake and a real shift in stereotypes….

I recognise that I am very far away from the well-established stereotype of a man coding in a dark room wearing a hoodie when you think about someone working in cybersecurity. As a Cybersecurity Architect, specialising in Identity and Access Management (with a background in development), my experience has taught me that, with a bit of courage, I can adapt and lend myself to many roles – leading teams, designing architecture, influencing enterprise strategy, and implementing solutions all at once!

I didn’t have to do this, but I chose to, so as a society and community, we get to see someone like me is in this position. A cake eating, karaoke singing, mother of one, I get to help alter the misconceived notions that alienate huge segments of the population from even considering a career in this field. There is space for all of us here, and more.

Shana Dacres

Senior IAM Architect
Shana is an experienced and enthusiastic Senior Cyber Security Architect with subject-matter expertise across all Identity and Access Management topics as it relates to both cloud and on-premises enterprise technology, and the relationship between the architectures. She has helped to drive significant enterprise transformation, with the ability to quickly apply experience to new environments, architectures and technologies.