What Avanade’s growth ambitions mean for my career
- Posted on May 10, 2021
- Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Header photo was taken prior to the pandemic.
Challenge is all about perspective. Some are faced with challenges and run in the other direction, others embrace it and rise to the next level. This is exactly what Shikshya Khatiwada did when she made a major career transition from banking to tech. Six began her career over 14 years ago at Goldman Sachs; today she runs Data and AI Global solutions area for Avanade. Around the time I had started my career, I was introduced to Six during a global hackathon event at Avanade’s New York City office. I was inspired – seeing a woman of color owning the room and at the forefront of a male-dominated industry motivated me to take my career forward.
Three years later, Six and I sit down to talk about the growth trajectory in the Northeast, her solution area and the need for talent:
Betty: What does Avanade's growth look like?
Six: The other day, I checked my employee hub and found out 50% of the firm joined after I did – I joined Avanade end of 2018! The fact that 50% of the organization is a little over two years old is an outstanding growth trajectory. Although Avanade has 40,000 professionals worldwide, because of our regional structure, it has a very local feel! At Avanade, I have never felt like a “number” on a spreadsheet, which is pretty common at large firms. Our teams know each other's strengths and weaknesses intimately and use that knowledge to build effective teams that deliver business outcomes for our clients.
Betty: What does that mean for its employees?
Six: Career advancements in all its forms – depending on where you are in your career journey, it means faster career growth, skills growth, quicker ascension to leadership roles, springboard to sales roles, exciting and complex projects... Honestly, the opportunities are endless.
Our Data and AI team has seen double digit growth consistently for the past few years. Our ability to recruit and retain talent is crucial. It also means that more consultants have opportunities to lead as career advisors, get involved in sales initiatives and continue to hone their skills across a diverse range of projects.
If the role you want doesn’t exist today, we can create it. We are constantly learning from the market and changing our operating model real-time to align with market demand. If a new practice, a new solution, a new offering makes us more competitive, we quickly create a role around it. Less navigating through multiple layers of approvals, more about building the growth engine for the future.
Betty: What do you project talent acquisition to look like in the next year?
Six: I lead the Northeast Data and AI solution area. We are looking for practitioners at all levels. Offering leads that are adept at origination and solutioning Data opportunities. Senior managers through to junior consulting practitioners skilled in Azure Data. Data Visualization experts in Power BI and even early career practitioners who are data engineers and data scientists.
Betty: What makes Avanade unique? Would you agree that there's a thriving company culture?
Six: I have worked at early startups to large scale multi-national organizations. Startups had phenomenal growth trajectory and I learned a lot in a short amount of time. Large enterprises I have worked at provided foundational education on systematizing business operations – leveraging the right mix of diverse experiences, solid processes and tools to get the job done. Avanade has the best of both worlds. Given the breakneck growth in Microsoft market cap, we are constantly calibrating how to become nimbler in the market. At the same time, we have the resources of the largest consulting firm, Accenture behind us.
The people are the best part of the organization. Most people I have come across are ambitious, highly skilled and live the growth mindset. When the organization started recovering from the COVID hit to our bottom line, the first initiative our leaders pushed was to provide merit increases to our practitioners who didn’t receive promotions. Our executive team forwent their own merit increases to create more room for promotions for our practitioners. Tells you a lot about the integrity of the leadership of the organization, doesn’t it?
Betty: I'm passionate and invested about driving Latinx representation in the workplace. What's your take on Avanade's inclusion and diversity initiatives as a BIPOC woman in tech?
Six: You and I both know how much representation matters. “You cannot be what you cannot see.” Our North America president Eric Miquelon has set forth an ambitious goal of hiring 40% women in North America in FY21. Building this pipeline for female leaders is not just a nice to have, but a business imperative. Also, the initiatives within our Employee Networks including Women's EN, INSPIRE and Adelante gives me hope that the conversations about diversity in all its forms will take center stage at Avanade.
Betty: Your tenure at Avanade as the Senior Director and Lead of Data & AI is inspirational. What's one piece of advice you'd like to share with junior to mid-level employees starting their career journey?
Six: Earlier in your career, pursue range of experiences over specialization. Technologies will evolve, “hot skills” will change, strengths will need to be expanded and weaknesses improved. Change is the only constant. So trying to optimize in a narrow domain or a key skill prematurely will likely not lead to positive results. But working forward from promising options and optimizing for multiple futures will build your adaptability muscles.
Second, always celebrate results, not ranks. In the fast-moving world of tech, outcomes of experiments and results have staying power, gavel of authority doesn’t. Your bosses will change, your job will evolve, your responsibly will expand – it's important to be curious about the journey rather than always focus on the next step in your career trajectory.
Betty: How do the I&D initiatives within Avanade tie to this growth theme?
Six: My point about growth mindset is really important here. Learning and Development is the foundational aspect of how we get our practitioners skilled in new technologies. Just because you are a very good data visualization guru, doesn’t mean you will be successful doing that role for the rest of your life. You need to learn the adjacent skills in your area – like data modernization or even Data Science, so you are constantly learning new domains.
L&D team has built multiple growth paths for our practitioners, whether they want to go deep or broad in the area of Data and Analytics. Our certification paths enable our teams to constantly learn new skills and stay on top of whatever is hot in the market, so you know that your skills are always marketable.
Avanade is creating new opportunities and shaping the careers of consultants. Explore Avanade’s 1,800+ open roles.