In Her Shoes: Nicola Hodkinson | Service Delivery Manager, Capgemini

Who am I?

I’m a quirky career-driven person with a DJ for a husband, two daughters and a cocker spaniel. We live in a lovely Victorian terrace in a leafy suburb in Cheshire. I absolutely love my life, my family and my job. What more could anybody ask for?

During my younger years, I gained a degree in Business and Management at Salford University. I then went crazy for a season and worked as a holiday rep in Majorca, before taking up my first IT role.

Being a busy working mum doesn’t leave much time for hobbies, but I always find time for my childhood passion for dancing. Once a week I don my pink tutu and forget my troubles at a ballet class for an hour, then tap-dance for another hour. It’s a great way to unwind, but it isn’t all fun: we have to do exams! I feel a little silly at times but you’re never too old to do something you love, as they say.

My career

My career path started at a small ERP software provider. During three years there, I was responsible for implementing the finance element of a wider solution for a variety of companies around the UK. After a few months with another software company (which “just wasn’t me”) I joined Capgemini.

I felt instantly at home here: it felt like the perfect fit. Sixteen years later I have no intention of leaving any time soon.

I joined Capgemini via our internal referral programme in 2000 and my initial role was that of Application Support, supporting the same ERP application that I used to implement at the first company I worked for. Since then, I have taken on several roles within Capgemini, traversing several different streams, which has ultimately led me to my current role of Senior Delivery Lead in the Service Introduction Tower within Application Management Services.

My typical work day

I’m currently supporting a mix of clients and projects that, during a typical week, could have me working from home one day, in a Capgemini office anywhere in the country the next and at an external client site the day after. My time is filled with conference calls, actions and plans, internal and external meetings or workshops, training programmes, and so on. It keeps me extremely busy and sometimes you wonder how you’re going to fit it all in, but that’s what I love about my current role: no two days are the same and it’s challenging and fulfilling.

Planning my career

Growing up, it never crossed my mind to deviate from the stereotypical educational path of school, college and university; I was very single-minded. After years of study, I felt it was time to break loose a little and had a brief stint as a holiday rep before knuckling back down to my chosen career path of IT. Since joining Capgemini I have approached my career as an ever-evolving “work in progress”. I have always had great mentors, and a great team of people around me who have believed in me.

I believe that the right opportunities always present themselves at the right time and that you should trust your feelings. Mine have taken me to where I am right now and are opening the door for many more opportunities in the future. I’m a very firm believer in doing what feels right and trusting your gut!

Managing my career development

I have been extremely fortunate to be mentored and managed by some really inspirational people during my time at Capgemini. When I find someone who I can relate to, I grab every opportunity to listen to their experience and take their knowledge and words of wisdom on board. I believe in taking chances and risks, going for roles outside my comfort zone, constantly challenging myself to do and learn new things, learning from my mistakes and successes and applying this knowledge when going forward. I see my career at Capgemini as ever-evolving, and that’s what makes working here so exciting.

Highlights so far

Wow, over 16 years there have been so many highlights that it’s hard to pick! But there are probably two that really stand out.

Future Leaders programme in 2014

This was a new programme that Capgemini was introducing for inspirational and ambitious individuals with the potential to be future leaders in the business. It was a fabulous two-year programme, and one of the most inspirational and rewarding learning journeys I’ve ever embarked upon. There was a mix of classroom training, virtual training, business challenges and inspirational talks. The venue was split between London and the Capgemini University just outside of Paris (go there if you get the chance – it’s just beautiful!).

The people I met, both participating in the programme and delivering it, the range of activities covered and the experience overall were all so inspiring and motivating. This led me to actively seek out a more challenging role within the business.

Service Delivery Management

I asked to be assigned to this role on a major account. During my tenure I navigated multiple high-profile delivery, commercial and political challenges related to both the application landscape and the infrastructure. I had to manage six clients operating within the same landscape and deal with each client’s varying priorities and demands, including managing the interests of Capgemini – it was like having to juggle tens of balls at once!

With unwavering support from the senior management team, we forged strong productive relationships with the clients, maintaining a stable application and infrastructure and planning a strong enhancement roadmap for the future. Following that success, additional clients have been added to the landscape and a new two-year extension has been signed with Capgemini, taking the service we deliver into 2018.

Best thing about working at Capgemini

Easy – it has to be the people!

I’m not sure how Capgemini does it but the people are all of a certain nature, character and determination, with everyone being true to the core values that permeate the company. I have always had the pleasure of working with some amazing individuals, being mentored by some truly inspirational people and being surrounded on a daily basis with like-minded people who bring out the best in you. I have always felt supported and recognised, and in return Capgemini always gets the best out of me, with my energy levels today being equal to when I joined 16 years ago – if not greater!

Support that I value

Over the years, I’ve been able build up a large network of contacts, both within my own business unit and throughout the wider scope of Capgemini. That’s been by far the most valuable support I’ve had. I’ve taken every opportunity to build on these relationships, further them and grow my network of contacts.

The visibility my network gives me within the business, and the support it brings, has reinforced my confidence that support will always be available should I need it. In return, I’m always available to help and support others should the boot be on the other foot. To borrow Dumbledore’s phrase from my daughters’ favourite Harry Potter books, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” For “Hogwarts”, read “Capgemini”!

What’s next?

I recently took on a challenging new role within Service Integration (SI), which I’m thoroughly enjoying. I have to deal with a range of projects and challenges that continually test my skills. I’m always learning new things and have the opportunity to engage with parts of the business that I’d not seen previously. I’m gaining a broader understanding of the differing objectives, perspectives, blockers and drivers, so I see the wider picture and how things affect the company as whole.

Moving forward, I’ll keep progressing my projects, working to ensure the successful introduction of application support services to a broad range of clients, adding value wherever and whenever I can and increasing my visibility within the wider scope of Capgemini. Oh, and – of course – progressing my case for promotion! I love my job and look forward to whatever the future brings.

My advice if you’re new to Capgemini

Breathe in every experience, grab hold of every opportunity offered to you; if somebody is willing to open a door, don’t hesitate – walk through it, learn from those around you, be inspired. Make sure you build your network and add value at every opportunity (either proactively or reactively). Capgemini is an incredible place to work, so wake up in the morning and challenge yourself!

What I like about the tech sector

The tech sector is ever-evolving – almost a living, breathing entity. It’s always changing and that makes it a very exciting and stimulating sector to work in. You could work for Capgemini all your life and always have a new and exciting project to work towards. Who wouldn’t want to work in a sector like this?

And finally…

The best teams are made up of different personalities, characteristics and drivers. I think that as women we bring a wealth of positive ideas, a different way of thinking and working, and a different skill set, all of which can give Capgemini a significant competitive advantage. For Capgemini to continue to grow and succeed, it needs to draw from the full talent pool, and it’s vital that we employ a healthy mix of employees of different gender, age, ethnicity and social backgrounds, so we can continue to drive creativity and innovation forward.

Personally, I have always been encouraged and motivated to challenge myself here, and given amazing opportunities for progression that satisfy my ambition to grow and achieve. Capgemini will challenge you, broaden your mind, teach you new skills and techniques. If you want to learn and become the best that you can be, it’s an amazing place to work.

Read more In Her Shoes profiles from Capgemini here.

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