Friday 21 February 2020

Being Encouraged - but does it need to be as a woman?

I am a lucky person, I have just celebrated reaching 58 and I'm not ready for retirement yet.

I found being 55 very liberating. I could retire if I wanted to. I told myself I would continue to work whilst I was enjoying what I did, but I didn't see myself looking for anything new.

At that time I worked for Certus and loved it. I love Mark and Tim and the team they had built up at Certus, and I loved our customers. There was no shortage of projects and I loved the diversity. I spent much time advocating Oracle as an ACE Director and that included the privilege and opportunities to speak around the world. 

Certus was acquired by Accenture almost 2 years ago, although we didn't transfer across for another six months. I posted a blog when I reached the one year point and it is funny to read that back now. It has got easier, but I still get lost, not just in the processes, I spent 15 minutes looking for a specific room this morning in London!

I have been through the first appraisal process and it was more successful that I thought it might be. Despite having a well met target of failing more policies than most people know existed, I have delivered value to the organisation and it is recognised. For me that recognition and opportunity is more important than the tangible benefits.

Then just before Christmas I discovered I had been nominated as one of a pool of talent at my grade, to be coached for the next level. Accenture held a 3 day workshop last week in their Madrid Learning Centre to kick of this 'Insight Program'. Recognising how we got there, what is required of us and then beginning the journey to promotion, through skills, encouragement and building a network of peers.

A lot of work had gone on to put us into teams of similar roles and I found it refreshing to be in a group of strong personalities all working in technology applications. I was the only Oracle expert but we all complimentary skills. We will stay in these informal groups for 9 months as we are encouraged to create and own our plans to succeed.

What makes this program unique is that it was for women. I was sceptical at first, if I am going to be promoted, it needs to be because I am the right person, not to fill a quota or for positive discrimination. Day One quelled many of those fears, we were encouraged by successful women who have made the journey before us, sharing their stories, which I suspect would not have been as honest had it been a mixed audience. We looked at the barriers we believe we have to achieving what our organisation thinks we are capable of, and looked at the phycology behind that and strategies fro overcoming them. It was a very encouraging and a very valuable day.

Day two, looked more at the skills we would need in the next role and here I was less convinced. I understand why a diverse workforce is more valuable, and this is what is being promoted. However for example, one workshop was about financial decision making and impact on the business, we worked through a gamification workshop in our groups and it was a lot of fun and very competitive. However by excluding men it wasn't representative of the diverse workshop it was striving to promote.

I was unable to stay to day 3 as I had to run back to London to speak at #OOWLON but I would have preferred perhaps day one restricted to women, remove their perceived barriers and encourage them, and then do the skills workshops as a mixed cohort.

Having said that, I am very honoured to have been selected and look forward to the rest of the program with my Team 23 colleagues and thank those who believe in me. 

My lovely colleagues from around Europe and LATAM, I am not in photo as I had left by then.

Thankyou Accenture for the investment in your talent.