The Capgemini Talent Acquisition Team Presents: Erica Bland, Senior Manager
Posted By: HBCU CONNECT on April 29, 2021 |
Capgemini continues to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace, where freedom of ideas and a culture based on equality are paramount. To celebrate this culture, we are proud to bring you up-close and personal stories from some of our exceptional diverse colleagues. In these Q&As, they share lessons learned; advice on how to overcome challenges; and why it’s important to find an employer that celebrates our differences.
Erica Bland is a Senior Manager in the Digital Customer Experience (DCX) practice. In this Q&A, Erica offers her insights into her career journey and what she has learned along the way.
Q: What is your role with Capgemini?
Erica Bland (EB): I am a Senior Manager in the DCX Customer Platform practice. I am currently working as a program manager for a telecommunications client and serving in a leadership role within the practice. My work is multidimensional and allows me to work internally with our people manager assignments and staffing while supporting the practice lead in daily operational efforts.
Q: What inspired you to get into your field?
EB: In college, I majored in Electrical Engineering. At the time, I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew I liked math. Over time, classmates and internships helped me to learn more about the general industry. After graduation, I worked with a systems integrator and decided I wanted to better understand how the business matched up with the technology. So, I went back to business school and that’s really what steered me into consulting and how I ended up with Capgemini. There wasn’t necessarily one single point of influence, but rather an entire village; the people around me, my classmates, and the multiple internships throughout my education.
Q: What was your first day of work like?
EB: I could go back to my first day in corporate or my first internship, either way, it was kind of like, “Ok, once again, I’m the only one”. To an extent, I was used to it since, at that point, it was a common thing. It was common for me to be the only woman in certain types of meetings. It was common for me to be the only Black person in my work environment. At times, it did feel like all eyes were on me, and some were waiting to see whether I would sink or swim. I definitely sought out others who looked like me and I started networking with them.
Q: How has Capgemini supported you in your career?
EB: I do feel like Capgemini has supported my career, to the point that individuals approach me and say “Erica, let’s talk about what is it that you want. Which direction do you want to go? What do you want to do? We will figure it out together”. Capgemini has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We bring our ideas to the table and if it is an option and feasible, we welcome them. I appreciate being in an environment where ideas are not just shut down but are, in fact, encouraged. For example, I remember it very distinctly, I was in a training class and I noticed that I was the only Black person. In conversation, I mentioned that we really should have some type of organization to connect Black colleagues across the company. The idea was received with enthusiasm and that was the beginning of an employee resource group (ERG) at Capgemini. They helped me through the process of creating an ERG. That’s really how A3 was born. A3 is the African-American and African ERG. Its mission is to further the development of diversity & inclusion within Capgemini, as well as promote Capgemini’s core values, with emphasis on the African American community.
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest roadblocks to success that underrepresented professionals experience?
EB: Awareness, opportunities, and networking. You must go out and try different things to learn and grow. However, in order to take advantage of those opportunities, you’ve got to be aware of them. Some people in minority communities feel like, “Oh, I didn’t really think that that was an option for me,” because they are not aware of the opportunities. Part of it is also that they have not seen anyone who looks like them in a particular role or achieving similar goals. We must network with one another, not just within our communities, but overall. We must get to know people and the paths they have taken and learn from them.
Q: What do you feel is one of the biggest challenges for women in business today and what advice would you give the next generation of women?
EB: Apart from the three points I mentioned earlier, which are also applicable, it’s also perception and confidence. When I’m coaching and mentoring others, I see this come up quite a bit with women, but men too. By perception, I mean if you are going to have a seat at the table, folks need to know that you are sitting there. You must be vocal and confident about your ideas, otherwise people will not see or hear you at the table. My advice for the next generation of women is to be confident in your ability, be confident in your delivery, and be confident in your ability to help others and bring them along the way as well. Be there to play the game and play it well.
Q: What Capgemini value do you identify with most?
EB: Fun. I think I am a mix of all of them, but fun is a big one for me. This line of work can be incredibly stressful and time demanding, but you have to have a little fun with it too. Although I will admit that I am guilty of not always having that at the forefront I realize that it’s so needed and I try to exude positivity and keep things light.
Q: How do you stay involved at Capgemini?
EB: From an ERG standpoint I am still active in A3, but I’m also involved in the ITSMF program. Capgemini is a partner with The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) and I was fortunate enough to be able to go through their Management Academy leadership development program. Also, I mentor, not only with my project teams, but also informal mentoring and coaching with new hires (collegiate and professional). I have hosted “Consulting 101” workshops, presenting through the lens of a day in the life of a consultant. I enjoy working with clients, but I truly get my joy from helping others and seeing that light turn on when “they get it”. Knowing I was instrumental in helping someone gain better clarity and understanding to help propel their growth, that’s what brings me joy. For us to be successful as individuals we’ve got to be successful as a village and we’ve got to help and support one another.
Q: What is one of the biggest perks of working at Capgemini?
EB: As I mentioned earlier, Capgemini’s entrepreneurial environment allows you not to feel so rigid and regimented. Having that entrepreneurial spirit and environment at Capgemini encourages the expression and exchange of ideas. You can bring forward ideas to the table that are different, new and fresh with the understanding they won’t just be shot down and overlooked. From a consulting standpoint in general it is a perk to work across different industries, which leads to so much growth and learning from client to client and to making connections along the way. I am so fortunate to have made those connections with my colleagues; it is great to have the comradery with the folks that I get to work with.
Q: Tell us about your favorite client project
EB: There’s one that instantly comes to mind and is actually the same telecommunications client I am working with right now, but this example is from my first engagement with them years ago. We were doing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation and it was great because I was literally on that project from beginning to end. This project gave me the opportunity to do some hands-on configuration and development in a specific tool, so I got to learn something brand new as well. I got to see my impact on the client in real-time. That was a true team consulting experience for me and we had a great client. We all worked so well together and we worked hard, but we played hard too. It was an all collaborative team. I hope you can hear the passion and excitement in my voice because I still hold that one close. We have a team picture with our client counterparts and I still have that framed picture in my home office.
To learn more about career opportunities at Capgemini complete this interest form (https://forms.office.com/r/ZHNeSCFzfK) or visit us at https://www.capgemini.com/careers.
If you enjoyed this article, Join HBCU CONNECT today for similar content and opportunities via email!
More From This Author
Latest Career Content
Popular Career Content