The power of embracing change – hearing from three women leaders in technology

  • Posted on November 9, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

It was something we don’t get to do every day: hear first-hand from three technology leaders. Now factor in that this was three women leaders from the technology industry, and it was truly an event not to be missed.

The event was a once-in-a-career opportunity for 865 members of the Avanade Brazil team to hear from Tania Cosentino, general manager of Microsoft Brazil, senior managing director of Accenture Technology Emma McGuigan, Avanade CEO Pam Maynard and moderator Daniela Cabral, Avanade Brazil's Human Resources and Capability Lead, who joined them virtually to talk about their career paths and share tips on how to optimize your career in uncertain times.

Although they come to leadership from different backgrounds, the women share one common approach to professional growth, they said: embrace change. That willingness to tackle change head-on has been especially important during the current global pandemic, itself a catalyst for change, said Avanade’s Pam Maynard.

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Avanade was immediately challenged to help clients rapidly accelerate their moves to digital business operations and commerce while at the same time focusing intently on the health and well-being of its global 39,000 employees and their families. At the same time, this period has given people who are between engagements the opportunity to deepen their technical capabilities and reskill to new and emerging in-demand technologies.

One thing all three shared was a natural curiosity and an early interest in figuring things out.

Tania began her tech career in high school, entering the university at age 14 and graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. Her goal: to be the best technical person to lead the third industrial revolution! Subsequent career moves took Tania into management, where along the way she adopted her philosophy: learn something new every day, a commitment to growth, both as a person and as a professional, that led her to Microsoft.

A college internship at IBM introduced Pam to technology and convinced her she wanted a career that combined business and tech. Time at two technology companies set her on the path to leadership before joining Avanade. Since then she has held leadership positions of increasing scope before being appointed CEO in 2019. Pam credits her mother with career advice she has followed ever since: walk through the door. Even if it is sometimes uncomfortable, walk through the doors of opportunity as they appear.

“I would never have achieved the successes in my career if I had not walked through the doors that were opened for me time and time again,” she said recently. “At other times, I have had to pull together the confidence to walk up to a door and open it myself. Think about how you may be holding yourself – and your teams – back if you don’t grab hold of an opportunity in front of you. As you do, remember to look for doors you can open for others. By supporting and encouraging one another and enabling the next generation of leaders, we all press ahead together.”

Emma agrees with Pam: take advantage of opportunities, especially if they come from someone you trust and whose opinion you value. Believe in yourself, enjoy the work and those you work with – and throw yourself into doing your very best.

Emma’s path to technology was a natural one. “I’ve always been curious about how things work and enjoyed problem-solving,” she said. “When I was quite young, I took a bicycle apart and amazed my mother when I was able to put it back together. Now I want to know what makes people tick.”

As leaders of Microsoft, Accenture and Avanade – three companies that have a close business relationship – the women shared their approach to success, as a company and as a career path: build deep partnerships, learn from others, establish true value and differentiate yourself from others by demonstrating what you can do. Especially important in these times of uncertainty and anxiety: find a way to celebrate wins, to create meaning for you and your teams.

The Avanade Brazil team highly appreciated the session. "Amazing! Revolutionizing women," said Igor Araújo, a senior consultant and agile coach based in Sao Paulo.

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