Capgemini’s Shaa Ravi calls for tech women to be more visible

Capgemini’s Shaa Ravi calls for tech women to be more visible

 April 23, 2020

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The thought of public speaking can bring some people out into a cold sweat. Capgemini's Shaa Ravi once shunned public presentations yet she now embraces opportunities to proudly share her achievements as a woman in technology.

Shaa is a Senior Consultant in Future Technology at Capgemini UK and transforms digital delivery for clients in the financial services sector. Shaa commenced her early public speaking efforts by visiting schools as a STEM ambassador and advocating for more women in tech, using social media to support her voice. Before long, Shaa began to put herself forward as an industry speaker and to seek out speaking opportunities where she could contribute to the narrative regarding the need for more women in the sector.

Where Women Work shares Shaa’s journey into public speaking and her top tips for further women seeking to establish themselves as public speakers in the technology industry.

Taking the plunge into public speaking

Shaa Capgemini Women in Tech speaking

IMAGE: Shaa speaking at a Women in Tech event.

When Shaa stood on stage for the first time talking about ‘Rebranding Women in Tech’ and her own career progression, she was extremely nervous.

“I was worried because I didn’t know whether I could actually speak clearly to people,” Shaa recalls. ‘I’m conscious of my South Indian accent and, although my accent is authentic and part of me, I was worried people wouldn’t understand me.”

To overcome her nerves, Shaa wrote out her 15 minute speech in full - including all the punctuation - and practiced reading it aloud clearly at home.

“After rehearsing, I felt super ready. However, when I went up to the stage at the event I discovered they had a Mac when I’d been working on Windows. My Powerpoint presentation looked so different and my slides were ugly! I’m not a Mac user so I had to simplify the presentation and make it black and white so it was legible,” Shaa laughs.

When Shaa looked out at the crowd of 60 people, her nerves resurfaced but she spotted a woman sitting at the front who was nodding along and smiling. This woman spurred her on and she felt encouraged to progress.

“I decided, ‘Ok, I’m going to look at her and deliver the speech to her’,” Shaa remembers. “Then I saw more people engaging with me and that was reassuring. I opened with a joke and I was so pleased when they laughed - not because it meant they found me funny but because they could understand my accent!”

After that first event, Shaa felt motivated to take public speaking further and realised she was playing a part in inspiring more women in technology.

“The response I got was overwhelming. I found a lot of people came up to me to share their own experiences and I loved that,” she says. “I realised ‘I’m ok, I can do this’. Now, each time someone contacts me looking for speakers, I say: ‘I can be your speaker!’”

Shaa encourages more women to speak publicly to build their profile

Shaa Capgemini panel event

IMAGE: Shaa first ventured into public speaking via panel discussions.

So what are Shaa’s top tips for women looking to become prominent figures in the technology sector?

1. Be confident about success

Shaa’s top piece of advice is for women to “be more braggy”. These three simple words hold so much power as they urge women to celebrate their achievements and in turn discover a new lease of confidence.

“When I moved to London, I found the competition in my industry very intimidating,” Shaa explains. “I wanted to mark my place and I found that bragging about my experience and what I can do was really helpful as it meant I could establish myself. It helped me to overcome ‘imposter syndrome’ and start to feel comfortable showcasing my achievements. I’m not humble and I’m happy about that!”

2. Build your brand

Shaa Ravi Capgemini digital projects

IMAGE: Shaa encourages women to 'be more braggy' and know they are awesome at their jobs.

Shaa’s second tip is to build a clear personal brand. She firmly believes everyone should have a brand and a pitch ready for promoting themselves as professionals.

“Once you’ve established your personal brand and have started being braggy about it, you’ll find people are very receptive. They will want to know your story, how you got to where you are and your passions - and once you’ve noticed this you’ll come out of your shell.”

Shaa soon realised that she needed to build a clear and accurate personal brand. The realisation occurred when she started to receive job offers for Systems Analyst roles when in fact she saw herself more as a Product Manager.

“I didn’t understand why people weren’t seeing I’m a Product Manager. Then I looked at my LinkedIn profile and realised it didn’t speak enough of my management experience,” says Shaa. “I realised I needed to build my brand, pull the relevant information into the spotlight and showcase my interests, and I even ensured I had a speech prepared for myself for when I met new contacts. In consulting it’s so important as you move between projects doing different roles - I’ve established what I want to work on, rather than letting someone else do that for me.”

3. Don’t trivialise knowledge or experience gained

Finally, Shaa strongly advises that one should never trivialise their knowledge or experience. Shaa suggests that it is important to be one's own biggest advocate and that, by believing in oneself, others will believe also.

“Many women have a tendency to question their own knowledge, but you must remember - you could be the only one to have a particular experience,” adds Shaa. “You should value your own expertise and have confidence in what you know.”

Believing in one's own expertise and sharing it with further women is important because, in Shaa’s words, “you can’t be what you can’t see”.

“Experienced professionals can encourage more women to rise up the ranks by inspiring them with their knowledge. There is no such thing as trivial experience and a normal story can be just as inspiring as a struggle - we can tell people there are women like themselves out there who have studied, got the job and are succeeding.”

Shaa Ravi Capgemini Cricket

IMAGE: Shaa enjoys playing cricket in her spare time.

Encouraging women to become visible industry figures

Shaa is hopeful that further women will take heed of her advice and become more visible technology professionals.

“I would especially like to see more women - including me - put their hand up to speak at general industry events. I’ve only been involved in women-focused events so far but we need to preach beyond the choir and have better presence in front of all genders,” Shaa muses.

Shaa also endorses Capgemini as a great employer for encouraging women’s progression and building their confidence.

“A great part of working at Capgemini is that there is no differentiation between men and women - I would like to see the same approach at events and at further companies. When I walked into Capgemini it was refreshing to see so many women in the offices,” she explains.

“Capgemini also believes skills are transferable and offers opportunities to move roles, as well as flexible working options which is great for me as I have a young son. There are also initiatives encouraging women in tech such as mentoring, and the company’s Active Inclusion approach means everyone contributes to the business.”

Shaa concludes that, by being braggy and building their brands, further women - at Capgemini and beyond - can become visible industry figures and play a part in bringing about positive change for women in the industry.

And, if you’re not ready to stand on stage like Shaa - be the woman in the audience encouraging others. Shaa concludes: “That woman nodding along during my first ever speech was my saving grace.”

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