Capgemini consultant Amy knows an expat childhood shaped her

Capgemini consultant Amy knows an expat childhood shaped her

 December 17, 2020

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People often ask Capgemini Associate Consultant Amy Broughton where she's from when they hear her accent. 

"The truth is, I have no idea," says Amy.

Amy shares how her expat childhood, which saw her living in Zimbabwe, the UK, the Middle East, and South Africa, has shaped her to be a better consultant at Capgemini.

A childhood across three continents 

Amy was born in Zimbabwe and although her parents consider themselves Zimbabwean, she certainly doesn't. She was a few years old when she left; she can't even remember home address.

After leaving Zimbabwe, her parents moved to the UK with their jobs. Although she has British passport which legally tells the world she's British, she don’t really consider herself so.

"I spent the next phase of my life, my teenage years, in the Middle East, in a country called Oman. Although Oman resonates closest to home for me, neither on the basis of any legal document, religion, language or heritage can I call myself an Omani," she explains.

"I then went on to spend many years in South Africa before doing a full circle back to the UK, hence the slight Saffa twang in my accent."

Embracing the diversity of the consulting industry 

Since entering the consulting world, Amy has come realise how growing up as an expat child has prepared me for her consulting journey and the challenges she may face whilst on what she calls a "rollercoaster".

"As an expat child my circle of friends expands to the four corners of the earth. I kid you not, my friends are more politically, racially and religiously diverse than the United Nations," she quips.

"Like my friends, our consultancy is similar, from our internal invent family to our clients spanning across all sector units and capability units are very diverse. Each client we consult with has a different corporate culture, vision, aim and needless to say different problem – or else we wouldn’t be there."

For Amy, living the expat lifestyle has forced her to embrace change and diversity. She quickly realised that no one person thinks the same, everyone has a different story, similar to that of Capgemini and its clients. Initially she found this very intimidating.

"Rewind two decades, there I was, starting a new school halfway through a term, in a new country. To put it into context of how diverse my school was, there were 54 different nationalities of children," she reminisces. "I remember clearly thinking how am I going to fit in at this school? Will they like me? What if my new maths teacher insists on doing long division instead of short division? (she did and I didn’t like her for it). As time went on and I gained a little confidence, I thrived on meeting new people, learning new ways of doing things (Although, I still put my foot down at long division) and experiencing different cultures. I came to realise what used to intimidate me now excites me."

Understanding different ways of working

Now, Amy's understanding of different ways of working and thinking has prepared her as consultant. It has prepared her to smoothly transition between projects, interact with different people, embrace different practices and adapt her own ways of thinking to fit in to this new and ever-changing environment. Furthermore, it has taught her to harness and build on her previous experiences, learnings, and adapt and apply these to new interactions especially when faced with a problem.

"I have recently read a study of how employers don’t only look for people who have high IQ’s and EQ’s but now are more focused on applicants who have AQ.  For those of you reading who’ve never heard of AQ, it is your Adversity Quotient. Simply put, AQ refers to a person’s resilience," Amy explains. "Now, resilience is a concept and trait that is highly valued in all areas of life, with business being no exception. When things are going wrong in business, who gets the call to handle the situation?"

"While the term is most often associated with the field of psychology, its meaning is clear and relevant in virtually every industry. Considering Capgemini's clients basically spans across every industry you can begin to see its rather important as a consultant."

Resilience to change and challenges

Amy's move every few years, starting over, making new friends over and over again has built up her resilience. During each move, she had to gain the trust of new friends, adapt and learn new ways of thinking and living. Similarly, like each project she works on at Capgemini, she has to gain the trust of the client, adapt and learn their ways of working and doing business, whilst at the same time encouraging clients to embrace change and be resilient.

"Embracing change and resilience are two characteristics I have found to be important when working in the consulting industry, but there is one last key characteristic I would consider to be vital – although often overlooked – confidence," she adds.

"As a graduate, entering a corporate like Capgemini, we can often feel very intimidated looking up at all these consultants who have decades of experience over us. As a child, I more often than not found myself in situations where I didn’t know anyone in the room, whether that was starting at a new school or attending one of my parents work events," she says. "When attending such events, the thought of mingling and talking to a roomful of strangers who all knew each other was incredibly daunting. I felt like I’d been thrown in the deep end with a sinking weight attached to my foot."

Drawing on past experiences for career success

Needless to say, her confidence quite quickly developed as she didn’t like the prospect of being what she calls "the friendless kid in the corner". Similarly, clients want to see a proactive, positive and growth mindset from consultants as essentially you are employed to solve a problem and be confident in that solution and this stems from developing one’s confidence.

"I know how I grew up was not the ‘norm’ but I’m sure everyone reading this in some way can relate to how their past experiences has provided them with examples of change, resilience and confidence," she concludes. "Going forward, we will depend on our ability to reshape and reflect on our past experiences in order to build and reinvent ourselves to remain competitive, not only on a global scale but as individuals too."

Like Amy, bring your unique experiences to Capgemini

Capgemini understands that employees can, like Amy, harness their unique experiences and backgrounds to drive innovation and creative solutions for clients.

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