In some conservative Indian families, girls are not encouraged to pursue academic excellence or professional careers. But Shiza Shakeel’s father was different. He was inspired by his belief in her abilities and her constant encouragement to challenge herself and set goals to eventually become a disruptive technology solutions sales professional and a force for social equality.
I went on to complete my studies in Computer Science and Engineering and earned an MBA with honors. Then my dad – who lives in Delhi – encouraged me to take a sales career focused on next-generation technology solutions and move to Australia where I didn’t know a soul – and work in cloud sales.
After working with two global multinational organizations, I joined Accenture to be a part of large scale transformational cloud deals. My experience selling IaaS hybrid clouds enabled me to quickly become productive at Accenture and provide cloud transformation engagements. Now, recently, I am thrilled and very proud to receive an award for my work to advance social justice in the form of the Accenture Global Equality Champion Award for Growth Markets.
The world of technology has always fascinated me. I quickly understood that technology has the potential to drive excellence in every area of business and to be the equalizer of the disadvantaged. But when I first got started, I couldn’t find many women in tech sales in the room. In the early days of my career, no one was listening to me. Then the man next to me will make the same suggestion and he will be praised.
I realized that sitting at the table is not enough. Equality only occurs when every sound is heard.
From my early days, I believed in sharing the perks and efficiencies with less fortunate people, from supporting disadvantaged children at school, to helping set up a sanitation facility in a local village as part of my MBA project.
Ever since I started Accenture at ANZ during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve found myself motivated to do more than ever before! I joined the company precisely because equality is one of the cornerstones of its success. I could see women in high positions – people I could look up to. Our global CEO, Julie Sweet, has always been an inspiration to me.
Almost from day one, in addition to getting to know our clients, I have been working on social initiatives, including volunteering as a mentor with the ABCN Accelerate Program, which targets exceptional students with significant economic and social challenges. Through ABCN, I had the privilege of entering into a three-year mentoring relationship with a girl who fled the war in Syria.
My experience with ABCN, my passion for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and desire to do more have raised my hand to co-lead the latest pillars of inclusion and diversity at Accenture: social mobility. Our mission is to help Accenture attract and retain the best people, regardless of their educational qualifications or social background. This means offering training and workplace experience to individuals who would not be on companies’ radar and finding people through non-traditional recruitment channels. My vision is for everyone to reach their potential, regardless of their background or circumstances.
Sustainability is very important to me. I had the opportunity to partner with WWF’s Earth Hour and help send solar lanterns to communities in Papua New Guinea to support education in remote communities. Today, I do my best to help our customers reduce their carbon emissions by using the green cloud.
It’s a very exciting time for me to work at Accenture. The cloud practice in Australia and New Zealand is growing exponentially as we help our clients deliver the promise of the cloud on the ground. Last September, Accenture committed $3 billion over three years to help our customers build their cloud-first infrastructure to accelerate their digital transformation. The cloud is essential to a thriving recovery. Digital transformation requires the widespread use of the cloud, and post-COVID leadership requires every company to become a “cloud first” company. But we need to make sure that we make this move sustainable. It’s amazing what sustainable software engineering practices can do. Companies can reduce application power consumption by up to 50 times – just by choosing the right programming language for the task. Migration to the public cloud could reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year — the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road.
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