What has been your business highlight of 2022?
It's been such a transformative year for Avanade on so many levels, so it's hard to have just one business highlight from 2022. Here are my top 3:
- The work we've done to help our clients prepare for the next wave of growth is something that I'm incredibly proud of. We worked side-by-side with our clients to navigate their urgent needs of the pandemic. And now we're working with clients like AQA, Toyota, Seattle Children's Hospital and so many others to carve a path forward. This is an incredibly exciting time as clients look to the future to do what matters to their customers and their employees—and pairing that with what expertise and technology they need to get the job done. There is such a focused energy from our clients on being bold and redefining what it means to be innovative—not just internally but with partners like Avanade. In all my years in the technology industry, I have to say that right now is one of the most pivotal and inspiring.
- We've focused a great deal on employee well-being and creating a workplace where everyone can feel safe to bring their authentic selves to work. I think our intent focus on the employee experience has truly differentiated us in the marketplace and it's enabled us to attract the top talent we need to support our clients as they navigate the next wave of growth. A couple of notable achievements come to mind:
- We've added more than 20,000 professionals to the Avanade family in the past 24 months. The number of new people we've added is less of a highlight than what it represents: we have the talent we need to do what matters for our clients as they prioritize their needs for the future. And in turn, that creates so many career opportunities for our people.
- We just learned that Avanade ranked #3 overall out of the top 100 companies on Newsweek's Most Loved Workplaces list and we also earned recognition as the #1 workplace for Professional Services and #1 for Most Collaborative. I'm so proud to be recognized by the marketplace for the hard work we've done to create a workplace that not only attracts top talent to Avanade but keeps them here.
- A lot of companies are still debating what the Future of Work looks like for them, but we made it clear that at Avanade, it's all about choice and flexibility. Empowering our employees to do what works for them while continuing to do right by our clients is a winning scenario for everyone. We've added many hybrid work options that give our people the power to choose what works best for them—and our productivity and focus on client success has only gotten stronger as a result.
- We've always had grand ambitions—advancing the world and making a genuine human impact—but the past 24 months gave us new opportunities to be bolder about how we want to help the communities in which we live and work. A few notable examples come to mind:
- We just announced a partnership with Prosperity Now to donate $1 million+ and in-kind services to give BIPOC entrepreneurs access to the capital, support and resources that will enable them to sustain, scale and grow their businesses. As one of the few Black female leaders in the technology industry, I know how difficult it can be to have a level playing field—and I know what a difference it can make personally and professionally. It's a big commitment on our part that sends a message: Avanade doesn't want to just help make the technology industry more inclusive and diverse, but we feel a responsibility to make the world more inclusive and diverse, too.
- Unfortunately, there have been so many tragic events in the past year—from the invasion of Ukraine to floods in Pakistan to the stripping away of fundamental rights. Time and again, our people have showed up to help those in need, whether it was to drive Ukranian refugees across the borders to safety or volunteer their time and money to the causes that matter to them. Yes, it's hard to see the tragic toll on humanity these events have had, but it's also inspiring to see how people come together to make an impact.
If you were ruler of your own country what law would you introduce first?
It'd have to be something like "Maintaining the status quo is prohibited." In the technology industry, we're used to evolving and adapting because there's always a new opportunity to help our clients seize or a challenge to help them overcome. What is clear is that what's worked in the past won't work in the future… now more than ever, the world needs us to think bolder and bring more diverse ideas and perspectives to the table if we want to make a real human impact.
Which channel or tech leader (outside of your own company) has impressed you most in 2022?
I continue to be inspired by technology leader Jacky Wright, who was named the UK's most influential Black person by The Powerlist 2022 and who I had the pleasure of hosting some in-person discussions on the ‘Power of Community' as part of Avanade's International Women's Day activities last March. And I consider her a good friend! As one of the few Black female leaders in the technology industry, I know how important it is to not only have role models that look like you but those who use their authentic voice to make a difference. It was so great that Jacky spent time sharing her own personal experiences with women leaders in our business. Her willingness to be a mentor to others and help pave the way for the next generation of women leaders is an example for others to follow.
If you had a warning label, what would it say?
My leadership team would probably say that my warning label would be: "Warning! Will challenge your thinking." We've focused a great deal over the past two years on arming our 60,000 professionals with the skills they need to have a growth mindset, both personally and professionally. That requires us to think beyond the obvious, to be bold and not be afraid to take calculated risks, and to be empowered to try something new even if it doesn't work out. It's easier said than done. It requires new behaviours and habits, which is why we've invested in training for our people to help them incorporate a growth mindset into their own lives. I firmly believe that having a growth mindset is the single most important trait a person can have, not just in the technology industry but in any career.
What was your first job?
My Saturday job as a teenager was working on the deli counter at a retail store.
What was the last book you read, and was it any good?
My nightstand is full of books at the moment, and I just finished reading Compassionate Leadership: How to do Hard Things in a Human Way, which I had the privilege of contributing to. I think it's so important to bring empathy and compassion into your role as a leader and to create space for people to be heard. If you were to ask me what is the book that has made the biggest impact on my life, I would have to say it's Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers. As a young woman, my mother gave me and my siblings the book - and I still give to people today. It's about not being afraid to take risks if the door is open. All too often, women hold themselves back.
What's the most important lesson you've learned from another business leader or mentor?
I would say that becoming one of the few Black female leaders in the technology industry is not something I would have achieved if I hadn't taken to heart one of the first pieces of advice I was given: "The success of your career will be down to you and no one else…" There have been many experiences that have served to help me grow personally and professionally, but I'd have to say my experiences as a woman of colour have been the most influential. It's no secret there aren't nearly as many women as men in technology. We are working to change that at Avanade - and in the technology industry as a whole. Being the only woman of colour in the room for a long time really challenged me and motivated me to go above and beyond. It propelled me forward. It has helped me progress and fight for my place at the table.
Who would play you in a movie of your life?
Cynthia Eviro - she is empathetic, creative, entrepreneurial and gritty!