Since joining Deloitte 15 years ago, Nysia Sewell has progressed to being Cloud Delivery Director while maintaining a great work/life balance. This is down to Deloitte’s flexible and responsive approach to inclusion and talent acquisition.
Tell us about how you ended up in your current role?
Sheer luck to start with! A recruiter thought that Deloitte might be interested in me and set up an interview. I honestly did not think that my education gained at a lower tier university would be enough for me to enter a company whose reputation for quality and exemplary performance has always been of the highest level. Luckily, I managed to impress at the assessment centre (not something that is now involved in the recruitment process as this was 15 years ago) and got the job in 2006. I joined as a Senior Consultant and was promoted to Director in 2018. Throughout my tine with Deloitte I have developed my leadership skills and managerial effectiveness by sharing my experiences, as well as listening to, and learning from others. This is the basis of consultancy – the thing that Deloitte does best.
How has Deloitte helped you to develop your career over the past 15 years?
Deloitte focusses on the individual – their personal interests, career motivations and passions. During my time here, I have seen them prioritise this more and more. Happy, interested and motivated people give their best, and Deloitte knows and utilises this. Other consultancies I worked for in the past were always pushing people into roles which may not have been right for them, personally or professionally. I thought that Deloitte would be the same, but it’s not. They understand that life throws a lot of challenges at all of us, and by being a responsive and flexible employer gives them access to a diverse and talented mix of skills and experience.
In terms of my personal experience, Deloitte has supported my career development while enabling me to be a mother of two young children. They offer an annualised working pattern to all employees. This means that I work 4 days per week for 11 months of the year, and then I take all of August as non-working time to spend the school summer holiday with my children. As far as I’m aware, there are no other companies that offer the same kind of working pattern - especially at senior levels.
On a day to day basis, what is it that enables you to succeed?
Two things really. Firstly, my team. They are awesome! They surprise me every day. They are bright, talented, hard working and make me look good on a regular basis. Working with exceptionally talented people rubs off over time. I now feel equipped to deal with far more challenges than when I started, and that has a lot to do with the hugely supportive culture and diverse range of people at Deloitte.
The second, more personal factor relates to ‘work guilt’ that many parents feel. The guilt that I feel as a working mum is minimised thanks to the working pattern I mentioned above. I can concentrate on my job knowing that I have dedicated time for my children that is not just an hour or two at the end of the day when I’m tired from work.
I believe that it is a combination of these two factors that resulted in me receiving the Deloitte Impact Award for Leader of the Year in 2018 – an accolade that belongs to me, but more importantly, my fantastic team and supportive family.
In your life – work or personal, what gets you really fired up?
Industry wise it would have to be inspiring young people, especially women, to take computing in higher education. At present, only 16% of women are taking computer related subjects at University. This needs to change to level the gender imbalance that currently exists in the workplace. I want my daughter to feel that computer science can be an option for her and other girls alike. To actively do something about this, I am mentoring and coaching junior women. We have to tip the scales the other way to fix decades of imbalance and develop the best talent out there – regardless of gender or background. Working with individuals to help their career progression gives me a real buzz. Seeing the people around me get recognition for their work is both humbling and exhilarating.
On a personal level, the thing that gets me really fired up is swimming in open water – something that has come about as a result of lockdown. I plunge into the water early in the morning to clear my head and focus on my technique. I forget about everything else as I hit the cold water, and I genuinely feel that this has helped me to re-evaluate my routine and prioritise the important things in my life.
Tell us more about your current role?
I help large consumer, big brand clients, achieve the innovation, insight or efficiencies they want in their business by managing complex projects built on a foundation of cloud technology. Most clients have some cloud capability - which in one sense they do – they have some digital applications or organisational data stored in the cloud. We consider this the first phase. The second phase involves working out how to harness the power of their data in the cloud. This comes from fully understanding their business on every level and the strategic objectives they are trying to achieve. The third and most exciting phase is when all of the gathered data is utilised to develop and create innovative business practices, enhanced business insight, or full digital transformation. This is where we (Deloitte) can really make a difference to our clients. The future for cloud technology is really exciting right now, both for the technology industry, and more importantly, for every other business out there.
Do you invest time in research to stay at the forefront of your industry?
Keeping on top of the fast-paced growth in technology to remain relevant with our clients is a challenge in itself. We have amazing research, thought leadership, learning materials and training to ensure that we are industry leaders. The collaborate approach that we take across the entire business also plays a key role. As soon as something new or interesting is discovered, it is shared widely so that we keep on top of latest trends and developments.
What challenges do you currently face in your role?
There is evidence that some clients are worried about the risk of moving to new technologies. They want to invest and have the ambition but struggle with the transformation appetite to truly harness the power of the cloud. The challenge faced by my team is demonstrating the power and benefits of cloud migration/transformation for operations, data and business critical services. The cloud can minimise risk, streamline and enhance business operations and create new opportunities at every level.
Give us an insight into being a team leader?
Leading a team is about being there. Leadership doesn’t happen overnight - you build small bricks in a wall of trust with your team over time. I work with individuals to understand how they tick. Small actions right through to big interventions are often needed, and personal insight is what enables any effective leader to achieve the best outcome. Integrity and honesty are the attributes I value most, and I try to live by this every day. I’ve found time and time again that it’s about being there for people when it truly matters.
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