Women in our workplace: Meet Laura Sewell
- Posted on March 16, 2022
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Human Resources is responsible for bringing in and keeping the talent an organization needs to keep things running. With multiple generations, ever-evolving skill demands, and a tight job market, it’s a game of multi-dimensional chess. We sat down with Avanade’s own chess master for North America, Laura Sewell, to find out more about how she got here and Avanade’s approach to people.
How long have you been at Avanade?
I joined Avanade in September of 2018 after a 20-year career at IBM.
What is your current role?
I lead HR for US and Canada, which makes me responsible for the people who drive the growth of our business. In addition to that, I see my role as coaching and influencing people of all backgrounds and career levels to become the next generation of empathetic and inclusive leaders in a diverse workforce.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I like being part of the business leadership team and being able to have a direct impact on Avanade’s people, programs, processes, culture—everything that our 3,400+ North American colleagues experience. And the fact that it’s Avanade matters. I’m inspired and motivated by making a difference with a company whose values, vision, and purpose I share.
What path did your career take to lead you here?
I started out at the ground floor of the male-dominated technical professional services world and worked my way up. In addition to HR, I have been in client-facing roles as well as on the operations side. For me, the key to achievement included two factors. First, I needed to find the confidence and self-assuredness to maintain my identity and personality in every role I took. I looked for ways to engage that were authentically me, not just me putting on characteristics typically associated with male leaders. Second, I had very strong, committed, open, and honest sponsors and mentors who advocated for me and helped me find my unique style.
Why has Avanade been a good choice for you as you looked to grow your career?
I have never worked anywhere where inclusion and diversity are so much at the forefront of the culture. That is a dream for an HR leader who values those things as much as I do. We have a rich set of experienced, empathetic leaders across a variety of career tracks who are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion, even when that requires them to be open and vulnerable. I said before that I like being part of the leadership team. This is why—because we have a group of leaders who truly care about Avanade employees and the communities in which we live and work.
What advice would you give to other women who are considering a change?
Realize that growth and comfort don’t co-exist. Being in a groove is good, but when you’re too comfortable, it’s time to change. As you step out of your comfort zone, believe that you have the skill and the strength to find your way through the discomfort. And don’t always assume that growing means moving up. I’ve experienced tremendous growth through lateral moves that prepared me for what’s next. I believe it’s healthiest to measure progress by learning new things rather than attaining a title.
Why is International Women's Day important to you?
It's an opportunity to pause, and center everyone around the progress that has been made by women and for gender equality. Like other days of celebration and remembrance, it gives us the chance to see how far we’ve come and share a resolve to keep moving forward.
Avanade’s commitment to inclusion and diversity starts at the top leadership levels, but it doesn’t stop there. Ready to learn more? Find out more about how we strive to embrace everyone for their unique perspectives, or head here to explore current Avanade opportunities.