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Catching Up with Capgemini Alums: YOUMNA SIRGI

13 Mar 2023


Youmna spent three incredible years at CGS, where she supported a Salesforce implementation project for the FDA and helped to grow the early stages of the federal health practice. She then completed her MBA at the University of Oxford, where she became more connected to the UK’s start-up ecosystem through the Oxford Seed Fund and Lakestar, a European venture-capital firm. Youmna is the Founding Operations Manager for Plain, a seed-stage start-up that is building a customer service stack for modern companies. 

1. We see that you’re doing cool things in the UK. What made you decide to move to the UK and what skills that you learned at CGS help in what you’re doing now?

I’ve always believed that you learn 10 times more about business from people than from a textbook. So, when I decided to pursue an MBA, I knew that attending a global business school would expose me to different perspectives that would help me to grow both professionally and personally. I applied to Oxford because its MBA program is known for having a very international cohort with students from 90-plus countries. I made lifelong friends from around the world that push me to think differently and act more boldly. This is by far the biggest gift I’ve received from moving to the UK. When I finished grad school, I knew there was still a lot to learn by working in an international city like London, so I’m still here.

Compared to the rest of my MBA cohort, I had less years of professional experience under my belt. That said, my time at CGS allowed me to try on so many different hats that I never felt behind my peers. The opportunities I had at CGS made a huge difference in my ability to engage with my classmates. I’m currently working as an operations manager for a really exciting tech start-up, and I wouldn’t have had the experience to take on such a Swiss-Army knife type of role had it not been for my time at Capgemini.

2. Could you share your most significant accomplishment in your career and how you accomplished it?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint one significant accomplishment, but overall, I’m really proud that I’ve never let myself be too comfortable. When I was at CGS, I wanted to transition from a PMO to a manager on my project as soon as I had mastered my responsibilities. Pursuing my MBA at Oxford was a huge year of growth and, immediately afterwards, I did an internship with a European Venture Capital firm, which was completely different from my previous experience. In my current role, I have the opportunity to build something from the ground up, which is teaching me new things every day. I try to surround myself with mentors and friends that encourage me to grow, which gives me the confidence to keep trying new things. 

3. Where or what do you turn to for continuous learning or skill development?

The consultant in me will never be good at focusing on only one thing. I am 100 percent committed to a job when I have responsibility. But I also learn a lot by trying a few different activities at once. When I was at CGS, I was a volunteer teacher at a non-profit in DC. I learned critical communication skills that I still use in a work setting. Now, I do some freelance start-up consulting and, every so often, I write for a newsletter that covers start-up activity on fintech. I think staying curious and finding new ways to connect with people has helped me to develop new skills organically.

4. Any fun facts about you?

I could spend the entire weekend in the kitchen. I host dinner on Sunday evenings to try out new recipes with friends before a busy week. I started the application for the Great British Bake Off over the holidays, quickly realized I was way out of my league, and am now attempting to perfect a flaky pastry.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?

I’m probably going to get in trouble for this one, but the best advice I’ve received is to think carefully, act fast, and apologize later. Obviously, this depends on context but it was a great mantra during my time at Capgemini and throughout my career. I think early career professionals (and especially women) are often too concerned with having all the information and asking for permission before taking on more responsibility. I’ve grown the most in my career in the moments when I’ve had to make a decision without knowing how it was going to turn out. That said, you still have to be humble. It’s a balance between being confident and recognizing you have a lot left to learn.