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When I look up, all I see is women

  • Posted on September 3, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

I began my career at Avanade as an intern in our Chicago office. I never set out to work in tech and I had no idea what working for a tech company would be like, but I’d seen movies, so I figured it would be something like a bunch of guys in white T-shirts who never looked up from their desktops as they wrote code. But when I came in for my final interview and met with only women, I knew my expectations would be challenged here. Yes, I work for a tech company, but I’ve found that most of my day is spent interacting with people and using technology to communicate people’s stories, which is definitely the best of both worlds.

After a year as an intern and college graduation, I joined Avanade full-time. Right as I was transitioning from intern to working full-time, Pam Maynard was announced as our CEO-elect. As a black woman entering the tech industry, I never really expected that I’d be able to look up the chain of command and see people like me. But here I am, able to learn from my bosses and mentors who have forged the path ahead of me and given me opportunities I might not have had a generation ago.

I got to meet Pam a few weeks ago when the Avanade Executive Committee was visiting the Chicago office. Even though leaders at Avanade are pretty approachable, I’m right at the start of my career, and the idea of walking right up to our leadership is kind of intimidating. Imagine my surprise when Pam walked right up to me and introduced herself. I told her how excited I was that I was able to see someone who looks like me as CEO, something I never expected to see during my lifetime, especially fresh out of college.

Her reply was also something I never expected. “I’m happy to see people who look like you in the business,” she told me. In that moment, I felt equal and important in a way that I imagine many 21-year-old black women never get to.

It’s not just Pam. From where I sit as an analyst, all the way up to our CEO, every role up my chain of command is occupied by a woman. For this to be the case, a few things must happen: Avanade has to have a commitment to hiring women in leadership roles. The company also has to have a strong, inclusive culture that supports that commitment. And finally, I had to be lucky enough to start my career at Avanade at the right time for all these roles above me to fall into place. Like I said, I never set out to work in tech; I also never expected to work at a company that gives people like me the opportunity to reach for the stars and not be limited by gender. And I’m so happy to be somewhere like Avanade, where my expectations are challenged for the better every day.

Stella Goulet Twitter Orange Icon@StellaGouletCMO

What a great story, Sierra! Thanks for sharing it. I'm glad you decided to join Avanade and excited to see you grow your career here. I wish you much success.

September 20, 2019

Sierra Jackson

Thank you Stella for your kind words! I look forward to continuing my career here and seeing what the future of Avanade holds.

September 26, 2019

Kim Crane

We are lucky to have YOU, Sierra-- thank you for sharing! 

September 20, 2019

Chris Miller Twitter Orange Icon@CTMiller

This is a great story, Sierra - thanks for sharing!

September 17, 2019

Katie Brown

We should all be very proud to work for such a diverse and inclusive organization!  This story made my day as well!

September 12, 2019

Sierra Jackson

Thank you for reading Katie!

September 26, 2019

Nathan Coulling

It's great to hear your story.  I'm very proud of the Avanade we are building together.

September 11, 2019

Sierra Jackson

Thanks for reading Nathan! I look forward to seeing how we all can make Avanade greater in the future :)

September 23, 2019

Lisa Field

This is fantastic, Sierra! Thank you so much for sharing! I am smiling from ear to ear right now. :)

September 11, 2019

Sierra Jackson

Thank you Lisa! 

September 23, 2019

Pam Greenstein

I love this story! Made my day. Thanks for sharing, Sierra!

September 11, 2019

Sierra Jackson

I am glad to read you enjoyed my post, Pam! 

September 23, 2019

Priscilla Donegan

Thanks for sharing your story, Sierra. We are indeed lucky to have you at Avanade. And your perspective is so encouraging and makes it clear that we really do believe everyone counts.

September 10, 2019

Sierra Jackson

Thank you Priscilla. Avanade is definitely a company where we truly live our stated values like that we believe everyone counts!

September 23, 2019

Erica Fletcher

I love hearing your perspective. And yes, we are fortunate to have you at Avanade. That is just like Pam to walk up and introduce herself, too. We are so fortunate to have her at the helm!

September 5, 2019

Corrine Long

Thank you Sierra for sharing this story! You are doing amazing things and I look forward to watching your journey as you grow with Avanade.

September 4, 2019

Sierra Jackson

Thank you for reading Corrine!

September 23, 2019

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