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How a Capgemini colleague has been encouraging others into the workplace
“A small amount of your time can help to change another person’s future.” That’s the verdict of María Luisa López-Tola Seguín, one of several Capgemini colleagues who have participated in a Spanish partnership to help socially disadvantaged people develop their digital skills and increase their employability.
“I wanted to get involved because it was an opportunity to make a difference,” says Maria, software development manager at Capgemini’s Madrid office. “The hours I invested in the training are nothing compared to the opportunity to change people’s lives.”
The partnership with Fundación Integra started back in 2017 and, since then, Capgemini colleagues have had the opportunity to help 200 people at risk of social exclusion, including victims of gender violence, homeless people, former inmates, former drug addicts, and people with disabilities. During the training sessions, participants learn to look for work online, and to use the internet and apps as tools in their everyday lives.
“My module focused on teaching participants how to search for a job with their mobile phone, and giving advice on sending emails and managing a profile on job portals,” she explains. “We tried to be as practical as possible, so the participants could take the knowledge away with them, and confidently apply the skills by themselves in the future.”
For María, there were also some personal rewards. “The classes were really enjoyable to teach – and they taught me things too. I got to see different people’s views of the world. Every person in the class brings their individual characteristics. They have had different lives and face different futures, and you need to adapt what you teach to each one of those.”
Having completed her teaching, María is now an advocate for others. “It was great to meet other Capgemini colleagues who had volunteered to run modules on the scheme,” she says, “and I’d encourage more to give it a go. COVID-19 has currently put a stop to the courses, but I hope they start again, and I will be happy to take some more sessions.
“Some of my colleagues have said to me that they don’t think they would be good teachers. But it’s not really about teaching; it’s about being sensitive to the problems of others. I make sure I recommend it to everyone. For some of us, it’s easy to write an email to apply for a job, but for others it’s much more difficult. We should remember this.”
Since the course finished, Fundación Integra has kept María up to date with her students’ progress. “We get sent feedback from the participants, and emails when they find a job,” she says. “When I read those emails, I feel very emotional.”Maria came across one of her former students by chance, in a client’s office. “I was working as a consultant at the client’s office, when I saw Mukhtar, originally from Ethiopia, who had been in my class. He had been in a really difficult situation when he arrived, and now he had a job at the client’s office, working as a janitor. I chatted with him, and it was good to see that the class had been useful and helped him find work. For him, it had made a big difference. That’s why it has been a very fulfilling experience. It’s only a little effort for me, but for those in the class the impact can be huge.”
Sarah Gonçalves wasn’t always a data engineer. She began her career as an archaeologist, unearthing the secrets of the past in sites across France before retraining as a data engineer. She brings the same curiosity to her new vocation at Capgemini, using artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover what lies beneath the surface.
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