Janet Barr carves out a fabulous career journey at Capgemini

Janet Barr carves out a fabulous career journey at Capgemini

 May 31, 2019

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Janet Barr is a motivated woman who has shaped and carved out her own career direction, thanks to many great options and growth opportunities at Capgemini, a global consulting, technology services and digital transformation company with over 8,000 people in the UK..

Where Women Work caught up with Janet to learn about her exciting and multi-faceted position as Solution Director, Principal Architect - Head of Profession at Capgemini UK.

Seeing the big picture - and zooming in on the details 

Janet is thriving at Capgemini as an impressive ‘big picture’ person who performs well in companies where employees can navigate their own career direction.

“I’m a macro level person,” announces Janet. “I see the big picture first-off, but I love zeroing down into the detail too. My mind works in pictures and analogies. I see all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and how they relate. I’m practical and pragmatic - a completer- finisher.” 

“I am also a people person,” she adds. “I like to look at things from the perspective of others. It interests me to know how other people tick so I always try to look at how others see things, and from that I can work out how to do what I want to do.”

A collegial work culture with global adventures

Upon joining the Capgemini team back in 2004, Janet soon realised that the fantastic innovation, global operations and flexible work culture at Capgemini suited her own personality; and she predicted she would be with the organisation for many years to come.

“I have done lots of different things with Capgemini over the years and I’ve been able to move around – all within the concept of a technical role – and in the last 10 years in senior leadership positions,” says Janet.

“With Capgemini, I’ve had the opportunity to shape and carve out my own direction and no one has ever said ‘no you can’t do that’ or ‘no that’s not your job’. I don’t ever feel that I am being constrained – I can do what I need to do in order to win new business and drive things forward.”

This exciting Capgemini way of working – which allows colleagues to forge their own journeys – has proved positive for Janet. In fact, she says that she has seen industry peers leave other employers because they were being ‘pigeon-holed’ into roles that weren’t right for them.

“I’ve never felt constrained with Capgemini – there are always opportunities to move and grow within the organisation,” Janet suggests.

Movement in terms of changing roles is coupled with exciting opportunities to travel abroad as well as the freedom to work remotely when needed. From delivering training for Lead Architects in the Netherlands to visiting Paris for an Architecture Summit, Janet enjoys many exciting travel opportunities. It’s not hard to see why she has remained with the company for
more than 15 years.

“I love having the chance to travel around the world overseeing some of the training delivery and, in doing that, I gain great insight from colleagues in other locations,” explains Janet. “I remember visiting Paris when I was new to the company and fully realising the global reach and operations of Capgemini - and that really excited me.”

Listening, thinking, suggesting - key skills for Janet

Capgemini services tech - Janet Barr

With her highly inquisitive mind, Janet enjoys constantly building up new knowledge - which makes Capgemini a fabulous company for her to work with. “I’m not afraid to speak up when I don’t know something,” explains Janet. “I keep an open mind about which way a plan can go. I’m flexible and I reflect on processes in terms of how they could be improved.”

Janet adds that having “a level of pragmatism” is an essential skill, especially when it comes to technically leading large-scale programmes of work focusing on transformation and modernisation activities.

“I need to look for ways to achieve outcomes clients require, and deliver on-budget and on-time,” explains Janet. “I also need to identify what they need – which isn’t necessarily the same thing they may have asked for.”

Janet - as one of Capgemini’s Heads of Practice - oversees large-scale tech transformations, especially across the UK’s public sector. In order to do this well, Janet suggests that a further important skill that’s needed is the ability to understand the industry’s direction and be able to map this knowledge onto what the client is looking to achieve.

“Great listening skills are essential, coupled with a good understanding of where the industry is going. I definitely need two ears and one mouth,” Janet laughs. “In my role I have to listen very carefully and pay attention. I also need to maintain deep knowledge and direction of our industry widely - and suggest variations and options.”

Understanding client needs

Being very client focused in her role, Janet is able to identify what Capgemini’s clients require and then help identify and oversee the design and implementation of the right solutions. And by using her great listening skills and staying abreast of industry developments, Janet asks clients the right questions, explains her ideas clearly and uses the art of persuasion to deliver great outcomes.

“Saying ‘this is what you should do and this is how you should do it’ might not always work. I need to listen, then find a way of suggesting potential alternatives, ” says Janet. “Looking beyond my technical skills, it’s really important that I can get very close to the customer to understand what they want to do and be in a position to help them to move forward.”

Investing in Capgemini’s people to help drive the organisation’s future

Janet has enjoyed many roles with Capgemini over the years. Most recently, she took on the position of Head of Profession for the UK architecture practice.

This role has a focus on looking at how Capgemini can invest in its people for the future and identifying what skills Capgemini needs within the organisation.

“I look at how we invest in our people to make sure that we have enough technically certified colleagues. For example, a lot of our clients might ask ‘How many cloud certified architects do you have now?’. I look at what we are doing to encourage our people to invest in themselves so we at Capgemini can be the help that gets clients from A to B.”

In addition, Janet owns the Level 2 training curriculum for the ‘Being a Lead Architect at Capgemini’ course which is part of Capgemini’s Architecture Certification Programme. Another impressive responsibility of Janet’s is helping UK Government clients develop an Academy Programme for training aspiring and junior architects, if successful, she hopes this will be used more widely across UK Government. She is certainly someone who thrives with a busy workload!

“There is a very rich picking of areas in which Capgemini can help clients when it comes to technical modernisation and we definitely want to be the partner of choice with our public sector clients,” she says. “I work on building long-term relationships and invest in those driving the business forward.”

Life as a ‘people person’ who thrives on a challenge 

Janet really enjoys the people aspect of her work. She thrives when leading teams and loves the feeling of people working together to reach a common goal. “A good bit of problem solving with a white-board and a few people tackling a challenge makes me tick,” she laughs.

On the flip-side, keeping up with the ever-changing tech landscape is challenging as innovation moves so quickly. For example, cloud computing is an innovation presenting all sorts of benefits but also requires changes to work processes and services.

“Technology is changing so fast that it can be challenging to remain on top of things. I rely on a group of people who are closer to detail than myself and I test out my thinking with them. One person can’t possibly stay abreast of all knowledge,” Janet comments. “I enjoy challenges though – and I wouldn’t be in this line of work if I didn't – but it does often feel like you’re either half a page ahead or half a page behind.”

Sound advice for women looking to join the Capgemini team

When asked what attributes are valued most in her part of the Capgemini organisation, Janet stresses the importance of having an inquisitive mind.

“We value people who are keen to learn new things, have an interest in how things work and understand why things don’t always work as planned. The ability to listen is also important and to base your thinking on what you’ve heard and understood,” Janet explains. 

Janet says that there is a very supportive work culture at Capgemini and a focus on teamwork – with teams being made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. Colleagues are also encouraged to challenge – and Janet loves to cite a fabulous video from a TED conference where Margaret Heffernan, a CEO of five businesses, advises people to “dare to disagree”!

Dare to disagree

The best career advice Janet has ever been given is to trust her instincts. She recognises that this can be challenging for newcomers surrounded by lots of “big voices” but she encourages colleagues to listen to the viewpoints of others but not to be afraid to : “Hold the line and go with your gut feeling.”

Janet also stresses the importance of enjoying a fulfilling home-life. She loves spending time with her family, taking holidays and walking her dog – in fact, she usually starts her day with a dog walk so she can clear her head and prepare for the exciting challenges that await.

With her ‘big picture’ nature, inquisitive mind and passion for technology, the future is certainly looking bright for Janet at Capgemini.

Join talented women like Janet at Capgemini

Capgemini encourages and supports women at all levels of their careers throughout the business. If Janet’s story has inspired you, perhaps it’s time to search and apply for current job vacancies at Capgemini and take your next exciting career move.

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