Women in Tech Excellence finalist Kundavi Tirpachur, Capgemini

It can be a difficult industry for women to get into, especially as many have to go through the process twice: once when they start their career, and again when they return to work after having children.

We introduced the Outstanding Return category at the Awards for Women in Technical Excellence to highlight precisely this issue, drawing the attention of the women who have achieved a seamless and successful return to work.

Vijayasarathy Kundavi Tirpachur is a project manager working for the public sector at Capgemini UK. Unlike most of our returnees, she was with a different company before taking up her career, and we talked to her about how the process of joining a new company came after a 3.5-year gap.

Kundavi Tirpachur

Why do you support Computingthe Women’s Campaign in Technical Excellence?

It is a brilliant campaign to recognize and celebrate women. I found it so important to live for myself and support my family – and to bring those skills, the same passion and enthusiasm into my work.

How did you get into the IT industry?

My passion for IT began when I was growing up in the Middle East, and my father brought home a computer. Since then I started coding and playing and loved it. I did my degree in Computing and Engineering in Chennai. When I moved to the UK, I did some call center roles to get started and was involved in the migration to new systems at Santander Banking Group, Belfast. I got my first break in a suitable IT job as a tester at MInformation Technologies and then progressed to a Cobol programmer at Sanderson, Belfast. I left as a senior software analyst at Sanderson and joined CNT Infotech in Chennai as a foreign chief for their backend IT / Admin job for US health insurance.

I then joined Scope International as a Senior Project Manager and had to take a break from my career to raise my family. After a 3.5-year hiatus, I joined Capgemini as a project manager with their return program (Relaunch @ Capgemini) in 2019. There were two informal chat sessions before I was offered this position. I had a lot of guidance, support and training for six months and then it became permanent. The trip was beautifully tailored with the right training, workload and emotional support from my mentor.

It was the best opportunity; the team truly understands the value that returnees can bring from their career breaks to work. I have now gone from managing £ 3,000 projects to managing a £ 1.5m project portfolio with brilliant client feedback. Capgemini accepts me as I am; I am delighted to be nominated by my mentor and to be a finalist for Return of the Year.

What do you think is the main reason why the IT Industry is primarily male, especially in technical roles and senior positions?

We live in a historically male-dominated society that is reflected in the workplace. Women’s nutritious attitude to raising children and managing “the kitchen” makes it a very easy choice for men to progress higher than women because they don’t need to take a break for family. Things change and evolve slowly, but it still remains that a child can only be carried by a woman!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Let go of external expectations or pressure. Work hard with passion and dedication, do your best and recognition will follow. Everything is framed when you do your best and visualize a positive outcome.

What are your top three tips for women looking to start a career in IT?

There are many career opportunities within IT. I believe we need to choose a career that is in sync with our nature. I love being a project manager because I am driven by nature. I look forward to working every morning. Passion is the key word I would like to emphasize. Knowing who we are and what excites us is very important because without motivation and inspiration, we will easily run out to do the task.

Each job description should be read and understood to some extent before attending the interview. Further questions about what the role entails can be clarified in personal meetings. Testimonials can be made to get the role one is interested in. I did my MBA in project management in 2012 from the University of Wales; to revive my skills, I completed my Prince 2 Practitioner Certification prior to my informal talks with Capgemini, so the hiring company would trust my ability.

You can only sound confident in things you are comfortable with and really know about. Always be clear about what you know and don’t know so that areas for improvement can be identified very early on and worked on. The Taj Mahal was not built in a single day. Anyone can reach the heights once they start believing and working on themselves. Don’t be too critical, adjust to an easy pace of life so that you are always accessible. Life should never be a task or a complication.

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