Technical Leadership Career Path spotlight: Jewel Abeleda

  • Posted on April 12, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 6 minutes

In 2020, Avanade launched the Technical Leadership Career Path (TLCP), an opportunity for our deeply technical talent that allows them to mature their business leadership while continuing to allow for their pursuit of technical expertise. Technologists will no longer have to choose between their passion for technology and advancing their career as a business leader. On this path, they will do both.

In this series, we will be highlighting the careers of the members of the TLCP. This entry spotlights Jewel Abeleda, Digital Enterprise Advisory Lead for Growth Markets at Avanade. Jewel lives in Sydney, Australia with her family.

What’s your earliest memory of being interested in technology?

I was surrounded by lawyers and teachers growing up. My mother was a teacher, but later joined my father to work at the Supreme Court Library. I spent a lot of time after school doing my homework in their library, surrounded by shelves of law books and law students doing their research. All along, I thought I was going to go into law. My interest in technology started later, during my high school years, when my school offered computing as an elective. It was an all-girls school and everyone (including myself) was enrolling in that class because it was the first time that the school had a male teacher, and a good-looking one at that. I had no idea what the course was about – it was a relatively new field back then – but he definitely sparked that interest and I will always remember him as the person who created that fork in the road in my career path.

How did your career in tech start?

Following that exposure in high school, I took up computer science at university, part of the first cohort for that newly introduced degree. I took on a mainframe programming role at a bank after completing my university degree. I remember spending many long nights as we went through mainframe platform migrations, re-writing code to allow it to work on the new operating system. Early in my career, I learned to appreciate the rigor, standard and methodology involved in developing and implementing complex enterprise-grade applications. The first three years of my career gave me a good understanding of not just the technologies used within large corporate environments, but also the functional capabilities of the systems that support the banking industry. I also had my first exposure to a consulting role in the first three years of my career, and at that point, I knew that consulting is what I love to do the most.

How have you been impacted by the low representation of women in tech?

When I did Computer Science at University, only 25% of our cohort were women. As I progressed my career, from a programmer, business analyst to project manager roles, I think there was a good representation of women for these types of roles. I noticed the big shift when I moved into architecture roles. The higher you go with Architecture roles, the number of women seems to decrease quite significantly. Being the only female in a meeting room full of architects can be intimidating, particularly when trying to jump in to express your views, amidst an already heated technical conversation. I did not allow this to deter me. In fact, I often would forget that I am the only female in the room. For most of my career, back in the day, gender equality was not a big thing. Today, we are lucky that organizations are starting to pay attention and starting to address this.

What are you most passionate about in your career now?

I am at the stage in my career where I would like to focus on giving back, sharing what I have learned and sharing the experiences to help people with their own career choices. I consider myself very fortunate to have made the right choices in my career and to have been given the exposure and opportunities to grow the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in the areas I enjoy working on. I have also been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to achieve a good balance between family and career commitments.

What does having the TLCP at Avanade mean to you?

I was made aware of the plans for setting up TLCP a couple of years ago, and I have been very interested since then. I am very pleased to see this now become a reality. Prior to the TLCP, I myself did not see a long-term career path for myself at Avanade, as I am passionate about being “hands-on,” and focusing on what I love to do the most. Personally, it opens the door on what that future might look like for me at Avanade. I think many of our technically-oriented people feel the same way, and now, that future is becoming clearer for them. For our clients, it means we will have people at all levels of the organization, who are able to guide them through all stages of their journey, with the required level of technology, domain and business expertise to apply the right solutions to address their business problems.

What does Avanade provide technologists that you don’t see elsewhere?

I have worked for many different organizations, and I think what stands out for me is Avanade’s commitment to continuous learning, pro-actively encouraging our people to learn and apply new skills. Avanade’s flexibility in allowing people to change roles within the organization is also part of this learning process, allowing people to continue to challenge and stretch themselves and not be stuck doing the same thing.

What advice would you give to someone looking at your career and wanting to walk the same path?

There are three things that stand out when I think about what has helped me succeed through the various stages of my career. First, “Know your stuff, and know it well. Whatever area you decide to pursue, you need to make sure you acquire the knowledge to back yourself, be it through reading and research, or through experience. Building confidence and credibility with clients, and with people you work with, and demonstrating this early, will smooth the way for you. If you don’t know the topic, don’t hesitate to say that you don’t, and that you will seek support from someone who does, or do some research yourself. Second, “Always aim for a quality outcome,” don’t simply be satisfied with “good enough.” There will be times where you will have to settle for good enough due to time or capacity constraints, but don’t let this be the norm. Apply a very high care factor for whatever you do. Your stakeholders, especially clients of consulting companies, expect a lot from you, so always be clear of their expectations, and aim to exceed their expectations rather than simply aiming to meet it. Third, people thrive when they are doing what they love to do. So don’t be happy with a compromise. “Know what you want, and make it happen.” No one else will drive your agenda for you.

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