In some of India’s conservative families, girls aren’t encouraged to pursue academic excellence or professional careers. But Sheeza Shakeel’s Dad was different. His faith in her abilities and ongoing encouragement inspired her to challenge herself, set goals and ultimately become a disruptive technology solutions sales professional and a force for social equality.
I went on to complete a Computer Science & Engineering degree and pursued an MBA degree with honours. Then Dad – who is based in Delhi – encouraged me to take up a sales career anchored around next-gen technology solutions and move to Australia where I didn’t know a soul – and work in Cloud technology sales.
After working with a couple of global multinational organisations, I joined Accenture to be part of large-scale transformational cloud deals. My experience of selling hybrid cloud IaaS services enabled me to become productive quickly at Accenture and deliver cloud transformation engagements. Now, most recently, I’m thrilled and most proud to receive an award for my work to advance social equity in the form of Accenture’s Global Equality Champion award for Growth Markets.
The world of technology had always fascinated me. I quickly understood technology has the potential to drive excellence in every business domain and be an equaliser for the disadvantaged. But when I first started work, I couldn’t find many women in Technology Sales in the room. In the early days of my career, no one would listen to me. Then the guy next to me would make the same suggestion and it would be applauded.
I realised it wasn’t enough to have a seat at the table. Equality only happens when every voice is heard.
From my earliest days, I’ve believed in sharing privileges and competencies with people less fortunate, starting with supporting underprivileged kids at school, to helping set up a sanitation facility in a local village as part of my MBA project work.
Since starting at Accenture in ANZ during the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself driven to do more than ever! I joined the company specifically because equality is one of the pillars of its success. I could see women in top positions – people I can look up to. Our global CEO, Julie Sweet, has long been an inspiration to me.
Almost from day one, as well as getting to know our clients, I’ve been working on social initiatives, including volunteering as a mentor with the ABCN Accelerate program, which targets exceptional students facing significant economic and social challenges. Through ABCN, I’ve had the privilege of entering a three-year mentoring relationship with a girl who fled the war in Syria.
My experience with ABCN, my passion for women in STEM and desire to do more, led me to put my hand up to co-lead Accenture’s newest Inclusion & Diversity pillar: Social Mobility. It’s our job to help Accenture attract and retain the best people, regardless of their educational qualifications or social background. That means offering training and workplace experience to individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be on the corporate radar and finding people through non-traditional recruitment channels. My vision is for everyone to reach their potential, no matter what their background or circumstances.
Sustainability is very important to me. I had the opportunity to partner with WWF’s Earth Hour and helped send solar lights to communities in Papua New Guinea to support education in remote communities. Today, I’m pouring my efforts into helping our clients reduce their carbon emissions using green cloud.
It’s a super-exciting time for me to be working at Accenture. In Australia and New Zealand our Cloud practice is growing exponentially as we help our clients make the promise of Cloud real. Last September, Accenture committed $3 billion over three years to help our clients build cloud-first infrastructure to accelerate their digital transformation. Cloud is an imperative to a thriving recovery. Digital transformation requires cloud at scale, and post-COVID leadership requires every business to become a “cloud first” business. But, we need to make sure we make this move sustainably. It’s just amazing what sustainable software engineering practices can do. Companies can reduce application energy consumption by up to 50x – just by selecting the right programming language for the task. Migrations to the public cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year – the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road.
Working at Accenture