Tackling Self-Doubt And Learning A New Skill
This may be a long read, but in order to understand the impact that working for Willis Towers Watson has had on me, it’s probably best to start with a bit of a background.
Before joining Willis Towers Watson I had been out of employment for some years. Being a person who is on the autistic spectrum, as well as a long-time sufferer of anxiety and depression, I had always held a somewhat bleak outlook about my future. I’d shy away from social interactions or anything that I considered myself to be incapable of dealing with, which meant I spent a lot of time at home alone. For too long I just accepted my issues and resigned myself to feeling like my life was stagnant and would not become any more than it was.
However, I eventually concluded that fighting against my own issues was essentially fighting against a part of myself, so I began to change my way of thinking to one where I could work with my problems instead of trying to avoid or ignore them. I initially decided that a job involving working from home could be an ideal fit as I could still be productive even when having difficult days, which would see me not wanting to go out and face that big scary world that lay beyond my one bedroom flat in Ipswich.
I began to make use of my free time to start learning IT skills with the help of whatever free internet materials I could find. It was hard and frustrating work, but over time I improved, and my confidence grew so that I felt ready to apply for a role that would let me build on the basics I had learned.
A New Challenge: Applying For Jobs
I had previously signed up to several job websites and one day received an email update which included a listing for an apprenticeship at Willis Towers Watson. I didn’t think there was a chance anything would come of this, but eventually I decided to apply and completed the online aptitude test. “This is pointless, it won’t happen,” I told myself.
But days later I’d receive a call from Jolie, a recruiter at Willis Towers Watson. As expected, she was interested in the gap in my work experience, but we also talked about what I’d been doing in my free time and how I’d been trying to learn new skills in an effort to make myself more employable.
We also talked at length about my interests, hobbies, and even about my issues and how they affected me (something I always found difficult but in this instance, it was surprisingly easy; Jolie was a good listener, kind, encouraging and made me feel really comfortable). Jolie took the time to get to know more about me as a person and not just what was on the CV in front of her. She spoke with me at length for some time before saying that she was aware of another possible position in another team that might suit me better and would speak to the hiring manager about a possible interview. It didn’t take long until I received an email confirming this and providing all the details.
Conquering Interview Nerves
Fast forward to the day of interview.
I almost didn’t go! I spent well over an hour at home arguing with myself because my clothes didn’t fit as well as I might like, my hair wouldn’t stay quite the right way and telling myself a hundred different reasons why it just wasn’t meant for me.
However, I decided that regardless of the outcome this would still be a learning experience and I could at least ask for feedback on why I hadn’t been offered the role.
I wasn’t as nervous as normal in the interview. The people interviewing me were really friendly, open and wanted to get to know more about me, my hobbies, interests and the conversation seemed to flow really well. They also took the time to make sure I was comfortable and happy to go ahead. I was able to remain calm and answer all the questions well; I made an effort to make regular eye contact and engage in conversation rather than using the typical question and response style most interviews take.
I left feeling like the interview had gone really well, but didn’t think I had a chance to actually get the role: I kept telling myself not to get too excited because there was bound to be someone with more experience, more qualifications, or that little something extra… That is up until that evening when I received a call from Jolie asking me how I was and how the interview went and, to my surprise, tell me I GOT THE ROLE!
My Willis Towers Watson
I began working at Willis Towers Watson in September 2018 and I’ve seen myself grow from strength to strength. The support and encouragement of my team (Cloud Enablement), my buddy (Jackie Hay) and other colleagues, plus the general culture embraced by the company has not only made me feel welcome, comfortable and engaged, but has also enabled me to grow.
I have learned technical skills and picked up knowledge from my apprenticeship and other team members. I’ve learned to deal with challenges and obstacles in a different way and have grown in confidence. What’s more, my role has not only seen me regularly leaving the house, but travelling to London (which I’d avoided for some years) and even leaving the country. This was big for me!
The team are always happy to take the time to help with my learning and development: whether that be stepping back and giving me space or getting involved and hands on, even giving me opportunities to expand my learning outside of the apprenticeship.
More Than Colleagues
Even with the above, the biggest impact has been on a more personal level. The rewards have also flowed over into my life in general and I feel like I am now on the road to becoming the person I was meant to be, which I can only attribute that to Willis Towers Watson. Particularly the Cloud Programme Director (Karen McDonagh-Reynolds) and Cloud Delivery Lead (Adrienne Hipkin) who are a constant source of support, encouragement and praise and to the Head of Cloud Engineering (Stuart Wright) who has sought to challenge me outside of my role in learning more technical skills and expanding my capabilities. These are people (amongst many others) whom I have come to think of not only as colleagues but also as good friends and have changed my entire outlook for the better.
So, that is my story which I wanted to share to let others know what life is like at Willis Towers Watson, to say thank you to those who supported me and to inspire other people who are thinking of applying. It goes without saying that I would definitely recommend anyone considering a role here, as I didn’t just gain a job or an apprenticeship, but also a part of myself.
If you would like to learn more about Inclusion and Diversity at Willis Towers Watson, you can find out more here or you can take a look at our current roles here.
Could you tell us about your career journey before your break? What led you to decide to take a break?
Born in Mumbai, my parents raised my two sisters and me in a modest home. I am married to a wonderful supporting husband and have a naughty two-year-old. Before taking a break, I worked as a manager and had 12 years of experience in the technology space.
I took a career break in 2020 when my daughter was born. I wanted to dedicate enough time to care for her through her initial years of life and felt that wouldn’t be possible with a full-time job.
Was the decision to take a break a difficult choice? What motivated you to return to work?
Yes, it was a difficult choice as I was a hardworking professional who aspired to build a very successful career in technology and always voluntarily picked up complicated coding modules to work on. After some time into my break, I missed that side of my life and was motivated to reconnect with the professional world again.
Can you tell us about your career relaunch at WTW? What challenges did you face since your return and how has WTW supported you through this transition?
I started my job search towards the end of my maternity break. Companies were hesitant assuming I wouldn’t be able to go that extra mile or stretch beyond regular hours with a newborn but WTW was different.
The interview was very conversational and candid. I was honest about my situation and the interviewers were fully understanding and supportive. Sometimes, all you need is a chance to prove your potential and WTW gave me just that! It took a little while to adjust to getting back to work and spending time away from my child but WTW supported me through this transition both personally and professionally.
How does WTW support and help you balance your personal and professional life?
My colleagues and manager understand that work is important, but family is too. They are extremely supportive and have a rational mindset. Whenever I have needed time off, I have always been honest, and my team has had my back.
The flexibility of being able to work from home has added so much more room to watch my daughter grow up. I get to see my daughter as she wanders off into my office space every now and then!
How would you describe the culture at WTW?
From my time spent here, the first thing that comes to mind is the colleague-centric environment. From everyday conversations to the bigger initiatives the company takes; it shows that people here care about their peers and the company cares deeply about its colleagues.
What advice would you give someone considering a career with WTW?
Change can be scary sometimes. But most changes stop being scary as soon you take that first step. So, if you think that the change will eventually make you happy, then go take that first step!
I have always believed that it’s the value you add to the organization that truly makes a difference and WTW gives you that opportunity to build and prove your potential through the work you do.
To learn more about Career 2.0 and how you can benefit from this program click here.
What is your role at WTW?
As a technology leader at WTW, I am responsible for driving innovative technology initiatives in India and bringing a seamless digital journey across the organization. My focus is to build, manage, and guide various teams focused on software engineering, application development, program delivery, testing, data, and analytics. I partner with technology leaders and product owners in India and other geographies on projects from inception to completion, to ensure success and deliver great outcomes.
Tell us about your personal journey as a woman in the technology industry.
I started my journey just like any other aspiring techie – one among many who were fascinated by its magic. As I moved ahead, I realized that many women were giving up on their careers too soon because they did not have enough support from their peers. Over the years, I have been presented with many equal opportunities. However, in the early days of my career, achieving certain goals as a woman seemed difficult due to a lack of inclusivity in the workplace. Since noticing this, I have always raised my voice and stood strong for what I believe in; to ensure a feeling of security and a sense of belonging for all. My past experiences are what make me so proud of the welcoming and inclusive culture at WTW. Unlike my previous employers, these values are embedded in everything we do. I believe that without supportive environments, organizations risk the loss of potential leaders.
How has WTW made you feel empowered throughout your career?
WTW has been like a cup of freshly brewed coffee. In the last two years, I have been empowered to make the right choices for myself and my team, leading to better service delivery. The trust my team has offered and the support I have received from my peers and leaders have helped bring out the best in me. The culture of collaboration, equal opportunities, and inclusivity has made me comfortable to request help when needed and ask questions. I consider myself fortunate to work for an organization that has such a great culture, and this has helped me broaden my thought process.
Describe the culture within the tech team at WTW.
Our team is driven by the One WTW principle – “When you get one of us, you get all of us”. We strive to break down barriers, advocate idea sharing and best practices, and motivate ourselves and each other to build capabilities for better business outcomes. WTW’s culture, reinforced by its values and principles, enables us to be as diverse yet as unified as possible. We advocate for a positive and supportive work environment that brings out the best in us and fosters an innovative and digital outlook.
Having close to twenty years of experience in the industry, what advice would you give to aspiring tech joiners?
Technology is like magic! It’s in everything that we do. So those who aspire to be in this industry will experience this magic firsthand. I urge all technology aspirants to have faith in themselves, take risks, fail fast, learn, and recover. You will always have a choice to go with the flow or try and make a positive difference. Your choices will help to build a world that will be relevant for us and future generations.