Avanade, a leading digital innovator and global technology consultancy, has made bold commitments toward achieving equal representation of women technologists in its workforce. The company, started in 2000 as a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, has pledged to increase the number of women at the company until its employee base has at least 30 percent women at director levels and above.
One of the many initiatives Avanade has embarked on to reach this goal is the Avanade Leadership Program For Women (ALPW), a six-month development and leadership program aimed at manager and group manager level women. About 30 high potential women are included in each cohort of the ALPW, which is sponsored by Pamela Maynard, President of Avanade Europe, and Stephen Kelly, Avanade’s Chief Human Resources and Leadership Officer.
“Avanade has a long history of believing that diverse teams give us the best results for our people, customers and clients,” said Toni Handler, Corporate Vice President of Human Resources at Avanade. “The Avanade Leadership Program for Women is part of our multi-faceted approach to promote diversity and inclusion. It’s impactful because it helps our top leadership at Avanade become familiar with these hand-selected women, unlock mentoring opportunities and expose the participants to what it’s like to work at Avanade in a more senior role.”
Heather Camm, a group manager in the software engineering talent community, graduated from ALPW in May. After working at Avanade for nearly nine years, Heather was selected to join the prestigious program, a testament to her contributions to Avanade to date and her leadership potential at the company.
Heather explains that the timing of the program was particularly impactful for her because she was already exploring how to take her career to the next level — in this case, a promotion to a director status.
“I had excelled to this point by being a ‘yes’ person, and I realized that the approach I was taking in past years for promotions wasn’t going to work for me to get to the director level,” Heather recalls. “Getting nominated for ALPW happened at just the right time.”
During the program, Heather and her cohort took two international trips and received regular leadership training, including valuable feedback about themselves, their leadership styles and advice on how to grow their careers and take it to the next level.
“Over Rowing the Boat” is a Risk for Women in Technology
One theme that stuck out in particular to Heather was the idea of women “over rowing the boat,” or taking on too many responsibilities and becoming overwhelmed. Heather learned that to get to that coveted director position, she had to adjust her approach of saying yes to everything and learn how to better delegate and empower the rest of her team to carry more responsibility.
“One of my biggest takeaways from the program was learning to pick up on when I was ‘over rowing the boat’ and understanding when to get other people involved to get stuff done,” Heather says, explaining that since graduating from ALPW, she has delegated more of her day-to-day responsibilities and been able to focus on bigger picture goals to help advance her career.
“I’m more focused on keeping my team happy and productive and making sure morale is high,” Heather says, explaining this has meant making more time for one-on-one meetings with her team members and serving as a mentor for them, in addition to focusing more on mentoring opportunities for herself as well.
Another area of personal and professional growth ALPW fosters involves taking part in more visible leadership opportunities. For Heather, this meant stretching a bit out of her comfort zone and taking on the responsibility of running Avanade’s International Women’s Day celebration in Seattle. This year marked Avanade’s largest and most successful International Women’s Day to date, with more than 70 regional events in over 20 countries, bringing to life their commitment to continue to lead the effort of access and equality in the workplace.
With this enriching professional development experience under her belt, Heather also has advice for aspiring women technologists: Be open to new experiences and new roles.
“I grew up with the idea that tech was just writing code, and I hardly write any code anymore. I do it, but it’s a very small part of my entire job,” she adds. “In tech, there are hundreds of different things you can explore.”
Image Credit: Avanade