Celebrating Kantata’s Women in Technology: Professional Services Team
Each month we are sharing a collection of candid interviews with the women at Kantata from a variety of roles and different teams. Each overview highlights their impressive achievements and unique experiences in the technology industry and will focus on some of the most inspiring and impactful moments from the interviews.
In this post, we’re looking at some of the women on Kantata’s Professional Services team. Read and watch their answers below to hear their insights on questions relating to their achievements and experiences, or use these links to jump to one person in particular: Anna Nilsson, Principal Technical Consultant; Bianca van den Heever, Project Management Practice Group Manager; Daniela Tanneberger, Senior Business Consultant; Gayathri Srinivasan, Manager, Professional Services; Gayle Lassen, Vice President, Professional Services; Meg Reed Senior Consultant, Business Intelligence, and Mei Law, Vice President of Global Service Delivery.
Q: What shaped you to become who you are today?
I came from a background which is probably not so usual. At University I studied mechanical engineering, and from there I actually started working as an engineer designing trains. And just started as a normal engineer. But I was one of the first engineers in my company that got to train on the 3D CAD systems that we had. So I got into learning about that piece of software, and in the end I actually found that the software was more interesting than the actual engineering part. So I ended up applying for a job to go to England and work as a Technical Support Engineer for this 3D CAD company. This is really where I learned my skills. I don’t have a degree in computing. It’s all self learned, on the job, and I think that has been a really good way of learning the industry. That [leap] really helped me understand the importance of the soft skills that you have. So communication skills and troubleshooting skills. It doesn’t always have to do with the exact technology that you are working with. It could be 3D CAD software. It could be resource management software. But if you have those soft skills and you can apply them to the problem in front of you, then you’re gonna get really far. Everyone I talk to on my team or if I’m mentoring a new hire, are always impressed that soft skills are almost more important than technical skills because you can learn technical skills.
Q: Can you share some of the strategies you’ve learned that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Q: What do you most want other women and young girls to know about being a woman in our culture?
I want other women and young girls in our culture to know that you’re not alone. That things have and are changing when it comes to a greater focus on equal pay, diversity, and inclusion. You do not have to be a woman in a man’s world, bringing the exact same skillset to the table to be successful. What drives, in my opinion, the most high-achieving organizations is social cohesion and diversity, and not being a group of star employees who outperform others. There is a fantastic Ted Talk by Margaret Heffernan, and she goes into forgetting the pecking order, and I highly recommend that.
Q: Do you have a message or advice for other women working in tech?
Q: Who has inspired you, and who do you hope to inspire?
If I were to start from the very beginning, I would say my aunt was a great role model growing up. She was a first generation lawyer in our family, and she actually got her law degree after her marriage. Juggling two kids and a law practice, I think that was really something that was aspirational to us young ones growing up. And then further, she went to head the Consumer Court in the State, this is back in India. I grew up around strong female role models in my family, be it my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, so I feel very blessed to have to come from a family with good role models, and also very supportive male models.
In terms of who I would inspire… I have a 10 year old girl, and I constantly hope to show her a better version of myself, so she can be 10 times better than what I have managed to do in my lifetime. And I also seek out opportunities to contribute, so I tutor math for high school kids and kind of use some of the STEM background that I come with, and impart some of that knowledge to high school kids. It’s a combination of instilling confidence in them and then also enabling STEM confidence in those kids.
Apart from encouraging women in STEM, I believe that we also need to share experiences specifically with someone who looks and talks like you to build your confidence to help them see themselves in your place. I am involved in a leadership and mentoring program for young South Asian girls called WEDU. And starting out, I was riddled with self-doubt about adding any value, but this was my own imposter syndrome at work. And after being paired with a young girl from Timor-Leste, I quickly realized that through our sessions it was beneficial to her just explaining and talking to her about my journey, and that helped build her confidence towards attaining her goals and pursuing her aspirations further.
Q:How can we get more women into technology?
Q: What are you most proud of in your time at Kantata?
Well, I was so excited to join a startup organization, and so the pride that I have really comes from being part of the development of that startup into a more mature organization. As we grew, we helped more clients and larger clients realize their initial objectives and then through our partnership and capabilities we supported those clients through their own journey of growth. Seeing that initial startup become Kantata as we are today, a company that has many ways to drive business outcomes for services organizations, has been tremendous fun. The pride comes from being able to say “I was part of that transformation, I helped build that business.”
Along this journey of growth, my underlying sense of joy (and pride) has been to be a part of the career development of my colleagues and team. It’s amazing how far they’ve come in such a short period of time. The company message was – be a business builder. And once an individual made that commitment to be a part of the journey, they found ways to turn everyday needs into a professional development challenge/ opportunity. It almost brings a tear to my eye some days when I see evidence of that growth in action. For example, perhaps someone who started out with only a couple of years business experience grows into a team leader who is then presenting in front of the whole company with the confidence of a seasoned executive. The pride comes from saying – we built a culture where people not only felt challenged to become their best self but also became that best self. And that culture also fed my own career development.
The interviews featured above highlight some of the many ways that women at Kantata are driving results both within their organization and within the technology industry. To hear more stories from the women at Kantata, browse the entire series here or check out our most recent posts featuring Sarah Edwards, Naz Sarfraz, or Emily Smith. Keep an eye out for the next installments in the series, as we’ll be featuring a number of interviews with women from a variety of teams at Kantata over the coming months. To learn more about career opportunities at Kantata, visit this page.