Empowering women to step up and lead the way in tech roles
When did you join Capgemini and what is your role?
I joined Capgemini North America in August 2019 – I knew the company, having been an employee long back, but mainly a client in my past roles. In my career, I have looked to alternate between roles on the client side and roles on the service provider side. It was a great opportunity to come to the Capgemini Cloud Infrastructure Services (CIS) business line to take on the newly defined Group Operations Lead role. It combines leadership, management, operations, change management, and more.
How did you begin your career in the tech industry?
I sort of “fell” into the tech field. My first job was working in a Massachusetts family-owned manufacturing shop in a planning and scheduling role. My passion was operations management and production planning. I did an MBA and specialized in production management. I really wanted to work in factories, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
After my first job, I worked in production planning for a company outsourcing annual salary surveys for banks, then became a Project Director for Digital Equipment in France. I decided I wanted to gain more experience in project management, and was offered a position at Capgemini in France on one of its largest projects. I was pregnant with my third child when this offer came and the hiring team said – it’s fine, we’ll wait for you! So that was the first of many positive experiences with Capgemini.
After that, I wanted to find the best way to combine production and operations management with my “factory” aspirations. I went to work for Paribas (now BNP Paribas), which is where I realized that in the financial sector, the IT department is the factory! And so began the “tech” part of my career. I started working in service management – looking at service desks, implementing IT service management, designing service catalogues, and more. I spent many years working in different sectors, from logistics to agribusiness, in senior infrastructure management leadership positions, where I was one of very few women heading these departments.
What’s it like to be a woman in a leading tech role?
While I have not experienced a lot of discrimination, in hindsight – now that I am involved in more women’s groups – I realize there are many challenges for women out there. It’s by understanding what other women feel that we can overcome the challenges. I also support women entrepreneurs in my community through pro bono coaching and mentoring.
Throughout my career I have never thought of “being a woman” where I worked, I just considered, maybe naively, that we were all colleagues pursuing similar goals. But sometimes I would sit back and realise there were very few other women, particularly in leadership. This is very concerning, and I always made a point of ensuring I gave equal opportunity to everyone, and addressed any kind of discrimination around me.
What are the biggest challenges facing women leaders?
Amongst many challenges faced by women, is getting back to work post maternity leave. In the French system, a company is obligated to bring you back in your job after maternity leave. I have three grown-up children today; I did not encounter any step back after each maternity leave. In fact, I was able to progress because my husband had more flexible hours and so handled a lot of the logistics, which allowed me to step into the right opportunities. However, as women, we must stay on top of things to ensure we continue moving forward – and that takes relentless energy.
What lessons have you learned from working in the tech world?
I got where I am by being results-oriented, operational, and focused on leadership and empowering teams. I progressively gained roles in management and I focused on growing the teams and making them successful; sometimes giving them better opportunities than I ended up having myself! I also decided that the people I worked with were the key to success, not necessarily the job itself – and that from there, we could develop good opportunities.
Culture is absolutely key. All through my career, I looked at that first and foremost, and took some roles in very traditional male-oriented environments because there would be interesting challenges. Capgemini is a great company with a strong culture. It has flexible working hours and work-at-home policies that help to create a supportive work environment for women. In the several months I have been here, I have not sensed any issues being a woman.
What are you an Ace at?
Empowering and coaching people
What do you love about your career at Capgemini?
I love the collaborative mind set