In Her Shoes: Caroline Sloan | Senior Account Executive, Capgemini

“I’m really pleased to be part of Capgemini’s Active Inclusion activities, and I am proud of the commitment our Board is making to our diversity and inclusion targets. I truly believe that increasing diversity will make us a more successful organisation.” – Caroline Sloan (In Her Shoes) Capgemini.

Who am I?

In Her Shoes- Caroline Sloan | Senior Account Executive, CapgeminiI studied Psychology and English Literature at Glasgow University – I lived at home while studying, partly because I was only 17 for most of my first year, and also because my home was close enough to commute.

I moved south as part of a promotion with a previous employer, and have now lived in Buckinghamshire for over 20 years. I met my husband here, and we have two daughters – both are now deciding on their first steps on the career ladder, one in retail management and the other in digital media. My husband is a freelance health & safety consultant, so I have a vested interest in diversity in all industries!

Our lives are all very busy, and made more so by a rescue dog and a new puppy. I also love gardening, so no need to join the gym!

My career

At the time I graduated, IT was really taking off. I opted for a graduate placement with a large computer services company. On a two-year graduate programme, I experienced everything from working with a hardware engineer to sitting on the IT help desk and telemarketing. I recognised that sales and account management was the area I wanted to pursue, and was soon looking after my own accounts. Since then, my roles have ranged from sales management, through channel and partner management, to strategic account leadership.

I joined Capgemini as a Senior Account Executive almost two years ago, after a spell working for a corporate telecoms provider. I was delighted to return to Capgemini as I had worked here previously, in Energy and Utilities, and had a great experience. This time I’m in the Aerospace and Defence sub-sector, looking after one of our secure strategic defence clients.

My typical work day

When I’m on site, I’m usually meeting with client staff to understand their requirements, so that we can put forward the right proposals and solutions. As I’m the Account Executive, the Capgemini buck stops here: I’m the go-to person should any issues or problems arise.

I have the added complexity that spending time on my client’s site involves additional security measures, so there’s no easy access to a mobile phone or the Capgemini network. We have over 40 Capgemini staff on site, and as it’s spread over about 10 square miles, keeping in touch with them all involves lots of walking between many buildings – fine in the summer, but arduous in winter!

On a Capgemini office day, I’ll be dealing with the planning and day-to-day management of the account, through a myriad of emails, face-to-face meetings and Skype calls.

Planning my career

I’m a fairly intuitive person and when new career opportunities arise, I will tend to go by my instincts. I usually find that listening to your “inner voice” is a good guide.

Over time, I’ve learned that there’s no harm in asking if you can be considered for a specific role, if you are ready for a change and you know it’s becoming vacant. Two of the best roles I’ve ever had came about that way, and the managers might not have considered me otherwise. I’ve been fortunate that the skills I have built over the years mean that sometimes opportunities come looking for me – that’s how I ended up back in Capgemini!

Managing my development

In the early years I had a view of the experience I needed to gain to progress up the account management career ladder, and I was fortunate to have managers who were happy to support me.

I also have a great mentor, who has always been an excellent sounding board to test career development ideas and to challenge me or give me a nudge. Even though he has now retired, he has been kind enough to stay in touch, and we meet every few months for a chat.

As time is always at a premium, I like to take advantage of webinars and online training and coaching to keep my knowledge up to date.

Highlights so far

I have worked with some great clients in very different business environments, so it’s hard to choose. I really enjoyed the global role I had looking after a major oil and gas company, and in particular a spell deputising for the global VP – it was a fascinating environment and we had some great successes.

Other than that, it really has been great to rejoin Capgemini. I had been away four years, but everyone was so welcoming when I returned that I knew I’d made the right decision.

Best thing about working here

The people are highly capable and really friendly, while the culture and values are very strong. Capgemini has a really positive “can do” approach combined with strong ethical values to “do the right thing”.

Support that I value

The management structure is very inclusive, with no “them and us”. When issues arise, we look at resolving them together; when we are successful, people are generous with recognition of everyone’s contribution.

What’s next?

I’m really enjoying working on my present account; we have made great progress over the last 18 months and there is lots of opportunity to help the client with a major transformation programme in the coming years. Beyond that, I’d be pleased to take on a new challenge with Capgemini.

Advice for new joiners

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and support. Everyone is happy to help you and wants you to do well. If you can see something extra you can do for the company, put your hand up and volunteer. Most importantly, be true to yourself – you were recruited because of who you are, so stick with it!

Why working in tech is great

Nothing stays the same, so you never stop learning.

And finally…

I’m really pleased to be part of Capgemini’s Active Inclusion activities, and I am proud of the commitment our Board is making to our diversity and inclusion targets. I truly believe that increasing diversity will make us a more successful organisation. Over the years I have seen the IT industry move from a very male-dominated environment to a much better mix, I look forward to the day when every team, management board and department has the optimum balance, and diversity initiatives are no longer needed.

Read more In Her Shoes profiles from Capgemini here.

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