When I completed my A-levels and was about to start a university education, my parents pushed me quite strongly to think about what I would like to do afterwards. Of course, the competitive salary was a topic, but more important to me were aspects like whether or not there would be enough challenges, interesting colleagues and a fast paced environment. For me, it was clear that I wouldn’t settle for the easiest way, but for one that required effort and time and also offered higher rewards. At the end, it boiled down to either Banking or Consulting, as I felt those two areas were the only career paths that offered what I was looking for. After trying out Banking for a couple of months, I decided that I needed a more diverse and flexible career path and went into Consulting.
Up to this point, I had never given much thought to the fact I was a female pursuing a more demanding career. Once I started at Capgemini, I noticed there is an ongoing dialogue focused on the topic of women in consulting. Unlike some people might suggest, it is not about questioning the suitability or capability of women in this industry, it is around the sheer fact that there are much fewer women than men applying for roles in this sector. I remember that during my finance degree, women tended to be drastically underrepresented in most subjects that predominantly dealt with numbers. However, I didn’t expect to encounter the same phenomenon in an industry, which is to a great deal, based on making connections and building relationships. So why is it that so few women want to go into consulting? Having spoken to some more senior women in Capgemini, they all had more or less the same answer to this question: it tends to be a matter of self-belief. Having the self-confidence to enter an industry that can be very demanding in terms of time and effort, relatively competitive and that requires a confident and composed attitude, is not always easy.
Females tend to put a lot of value on a sociable and supportive environment, which in most competitive industries is not necessarily a given. And once the question around having a family pops up, many women are concerned about not being able to handle both commitments. Of course, this situation has already improved throughout the last decade. Women are more ambitious, keener to pursue a demanding career and more likely to have bolder dreams. This has led to higher numbers in applications and a more diverse group of people in the entry to lower management levels, but there is still some way to go. I take great pride in the fact I work for an organisation that is so active in raising awareness of this issue and the encouragement and promotion of women … we have dedicated an internal workstream to it!
Members of the Women in Consulting CDC workstream at a recent CDC Quarterly Meeting.
I must admit that I was a bit nervous before I joined Capgemini. I wasn’t sure what would be expected from me and whether I would get along with the rest of the team. I was already used to a demanding work style from my time at university, but still worried that this experience would be much different. It turned out there was absolutely nothing to be worried about – I was about to get blown out of my socks. I didn’t expect to enter an environment with so many supportive, encouraging people. Whether it is your capability team, your project team or the others in your graduate scheme – you are surrounded by people that are keen to help you out or to just have a nice chat and a good old time with. The company culture is famous for its flat hierarchy and the approachability of especially even the senior people. Unlike other competitive firms, Capgemini actively promotes an environment in which everyone can seek advice and reach out to their peers or managers in situations in which they feel lost. This is what made it possible for me to face this time of transition and sometimes uncertainty with a sense of community and support as well as a great network of people with years of work experience.
So while the industry as a whole still has some way to go, Capgemini as a company encourages every woman to believe in herself and that she can succeed in any job she likes. To test her limits and to go further, so that by helping herself she starts helping out an entire industry! Every woman should be confident enough to pursue the career as well as the personal life she is dreaming of. All it takes is a strong work ethic and a great support network – like the one we have at Capgemini!