Guest Blog - Women in Technology: Saranjit Charoenmuang, PwC
To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Technology. They will be discussing their success, career-defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Saranjit Charoenmuang, Technology Consulting Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers had to say.
Profile: Saranjit is currently a Technology Consulting Director in PwC Australia. Starting her career with Accenture and progressing to Senior Manager, she helped leading organisations solve business problems through technology enablement. She has held a number of program manager roles, delivering large-scale business and technology transformation programs. Notable programs include helping leading organisations transform Customer Operations, standing-up a new Business with Core supporting systems and modernising Core technology architecture and systems. In her recent years, Saranjit has helped her clients define strategy and drive execution of Cloud strategy and digital transformations, leveraging a mix of strategic, business and emerging solutions.
What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?
Passion about what I do – I think belief and interest in what I do help motivate and challenge myself every day to drive for a better outcome. I am passionate about technology. I love working with my team to ideate and bring in fresh thinking on how technology and innovation can help our clients solve complex problems. These thinking helps me continuously be within the technology domain for the past 16 years and I feel fulfilled every time that my work contributes to help solve real life issues which my Clients are facing.
The need for continuous learning – Learning is a life-long process. I go to work with an open mind. I am curious and seek to understand perspectives from my superiors, my clients, my teammates and then distill these ideas as valuable takeaways from things I do. Keeping abreast of technology can be challenging as things move extremely fast in the digital age. However, I do make time to learn and enroll myself into communities and forums which interest me.
Resilience and Patience – many defining moments in my career is when I have faced challenging setbacks, what I learnt from there and how I could make a comeback because I am a true believer that there is no effort without error and shortcoming. Working in large transformation business and IT programmes have also provided me with many opportunities to engage with obstacles being solution quality, staffing issues, client and stakeholder expectations. The success by my own definition is defined by how I continue to be resilient and strive to engage challenges with great enthusiasm.
Give back – I am passionate about people and I believe in the immeasurable impacts of investing in people. I am still learning to be a better leader, mentor and coach and I will take the opportunities I have to share, teach, and inspire my team. I feel a sense of achievement when seeing that my contribution has helped a person to be more motivated, better, and achieve their desired personal and career goals.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?
There is no straight-line in the career path. At the years when I worked in Accenture, there are occasions that I have been passed up for a role advancement. My coach back then advised me that our career is like a marathon rather than a sprint and you would define your own pace to get to your goals. There will be a moment that you slip sideways or backwards, and you should take time to reflect, breathe, learn, before you move forward again. I felt that this advice is timeless and practical, and it has helped me develop resilience and maintain a positive outlook when faced with challenges. I found the opportunity from these “slips” to focus on continuous learning, surround myself with supportive friends, family and mentors then continue to soldier forwards to where I want to be.
What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I have just completed a long arduous four year business and IT transformation programme for a leading Telco. The next day I was immediately requested to see a client programme lead to take on another transformation program which was in the midst of delivery quality, staffing and client satisfaction issues including a large financial overrun forecast. The challenges seemed to be overwhelming at the start. Carefully, my team and I analysed the situation and defined strategic and tactical actions. Program focus, program plan, release plan, staffing plan and financial discipline were re-pivoted and re-baselined. I have been supported by a great team who with an understanding of the objectives and priorities, would stay focused to deliver the desired outcomes. It took the team approximately three months to stabilise the situation and we had a great run until the end of the programme. This experience has taught me a lesson that with the right focus, a clear plan and a team with the common belief to do the right thing will make the impossible, possible.
How do you approach making a difficult decision?
I would start with seeking to understand the drivers and implications of the decision to be made. I would also gather facts and data that would support the decision-making process. These may include industry trends, facts, statistics, examples, pros and cons. A shortlist of internal and external resources of who I would take consultation and gain insights from would definitely help obtain fresh perspectives. Experience in running key strategic initiatives such as embarking and solutioning for digital transformation projects have provided me with opportunities to flow through that decision making process. In the end, irrespective of a decision made being good or bad, it would at a minimum help the organisation move forward. The worst case would be to not have made any decision at all.
What do you believe will be the most in demand skills over the next 10 years within (insert discipline) and why?
We are on the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution. With the breakthrough of robotics, artificial intelligence, decentralised consensus, fully autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, the most in-demand skills over the next 10 years will be those which complement the emerging technologies above. I believe that the skills of the future workforce will be focused on “the human touch”, skills that are creatively inclined, highly interpersonal, emotionally intelligent, master the delicate art of negotiations and flexible and agile to adapt to changes.
Join in on the conversation on Twitter for this years' International Women's Day using the hashtag #BalanceforBetter