Homecoming: Technology and music create fulfilling career path

  • Posted on April 7, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Homecoming: Technology and music create fulfilling career path

Our Homecoming series tells the stories of Avanade “boomerangs,” employees who left the company for other opportunities before returning. Careers are long and winding, and personal and professional aspirations vary from person to person. It’s natural for people to want to branch out, but wherever you go and whatever you do, there is always a home for you at Avanade.

There are many reasons someone may decide to leave a job in order to do something else. Anoush Taba’i, of Toronto, had a particularly novel one.

Anoush originally joined Avanade’s ERP practice in 2006 after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in engineering. Six years later, she left to return to school to study clarinet performance at the University of Toronto.

However, while in school, she quickly learned that music performance is rarely anyone’s full-time job.  Almost all musicians have other professional activities, perhaps teaching, coaching, craft design or even coding, to support their income.  Since her other passion had always been technology, Anoush decided to find a way to incorporate both music and technology in her life.

After completing her musical degree, Anoush put her plan into action: returning to the world of technology first as an independent consultant and later by joining a small consulting firm.

“In both settings, I realized how many resources I had available at Avanade that had allowed me be more efficient with my time,” she said. “One of my early mentors at Avanade once told me, ‘We aren’t asking you to work harder, we are asking you to work smarter,’ and that has become the motto of my life.

For instance, as delivery lead on Avanade projects, I had access to a library of guidelines and templates that I could pick and choose from to mobilize the team. As an independent, I had to start from scratch and define those steps. Without the help of that body of knowledge, I would occasionally leave out crucial steps here and there that caused problems later in the project.  Over time, not having access to solid methodology and templates to rely on affected my work and I felt like I was not delivering the quality work I previously had at Avanade.”

Like many Avanade alumni, Anoush had stayed in touch with her former colleagues and reached out to them when she decided to look at new opportunities.

In January 2021, Anoush rejoined Avanade as a group manager in the Business Applications organization. Along with her joy at rejoining her Avanade colleagues, it was only normal to feel a bit of apprehension. So how has her second experience at Avanade been? 

“I was pleasantly surprised by how innovative and flexible Avanade had become, especially in the ERP realm,” she says. “Joining our ERP practice from its inception in Avanade, most of my projects previously had used the ‘waterfall’ delivery model, which schedules activities in a linear fashion. Projects tended to move slowly. I am delighted that Avanade has taken an agile-first approach and has been experimenting with different project delivery models and terms that will ultimately be even more flexible for our clients. This level of flexibility makes us more competitive in the market.”

At the same time, Anoush said she learned a number of lessons during her time away from Avanade that are helping her on the job today.

“As an independent and then working in a small company, I was responsible for all aspects of the delivery, including environment deployment, database movements and performance issues, in addition to my regular job of configuring Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. I had to rise to the occasion and take on additional responsibility, which in turn expanded my knowledge and experience in the full application ecosystem rather than the narrower delivery focus that I originally had at Avanade.

Working directly for the client, without the pressure of project delivery and timelines, I had the chance to spend more time with all users of the system – everyone from a warehouse worker to the director of finance.  It gave me better insight into how the way we configure and setup the system affects the day-to-day operational job of these individuals for years to come. When we have that human-centric experience and perspective in mind, we can have a significant positive impact on our clients’ individual employee jobs and their organizations as a whole.”

Even with an expanded role at Avanade, Anoush has been able to create the synergy she was looking for between her love of technology and music. She and friends from university have started Charsu, a quartet for voice, clarinet, cello and piano. The group held its inaugural concert in November 2019, shortly before the pandemic, and it is actively planning future events for when venues reopen.

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