It is important to note that every team member supports the programme on top of their ‘day job’. This core team, of both men and women, has become a close knit community at KPMG and every member should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved in the past two years and the positive trajectory that we are on for the coming year. When the programme was first founded, there was a vision that through the IT’s Her Future Programme, KPMG would boast a culture where men and women recognise the value, and are active promotors, of gender diversity in technology. A working environment – in which integrity, passion and entrepreneurial spirit flourish – will serve as an example to global KPMG member firms, clients and the professional industry.
Anna Somaiya is the founder and programme leader for IT’s Her Future who have been nominated for WIBF’s 2018 Team Diversity Award. We spoke to her to find out more about her and IT’s Her Future.
Tell us about what your team is responsible for and any specific projects you are working on currently:
IT’s Her Future is tackling gender diversity within technology at KPMG. We have recognised a number of internal challenges and external influences that we wanted to overcome in order to become pioneers of change for women in our industry. IT’s Her Future is primarily a 3 pronged strategy; (i) Supporting women in technology by providing mentoring, coaching and technical confidence; (ii) Inspiring women to leverage the wealth of opportunity offered by the technology revolution and (iii) Empowering women to be the architects of change across the technology industry.
At the start of FY18 we launched the Juniors Programme with the purpose of; Encouraging School aged girls to pursue a career in technology; Building a pipeline of future talent & involved schools and Developing Strategy for ongoing teacher and parent engagement. In addition to this programme of work we also have our mentoring workstream, looking to inspire confidence and technical ability in our female colleagues as well as our experienced hire programme which focuses on educating recruitment teams and forming diverse panels for the interview process.
What is your role within the team?
Digital Transformation is at the heart of the UK Firm’s strategy. Truly embedding new technology into our ways of working will enable us to better collaborate with each other, drive real insights from data. My current role is focused on driving this strategy and operational excellence within the IT capability team. To me, excellence within the IT capability means having multidiscipline and diverse teams. As the founder and programme lead for IT’s Her Future, I started the programme after recognising the clear gap between the skill set required and the capability existing today. When we consider the future – this is very likely to continue. Encouraging more tech diversity would not only work towards filling the tech skills gap, but drive better business outcomes overall. Though diversity is not just a construct designed to right an imbalance. It’s an untapped superpower that all businesses have the potential to access something of which, I am a passionate advocate.
How can we get the biggest shift towards diverse and inclusive workplaces?
One of the things I am most proud of in my career is that IT’s Her Future has grown beyond me and beyond KPMG. We have engaged with our partner firms and taken the programme global. We have also managed to engage our clients and force the conversation of the importance of diversity in technology at board level internally and externally.
Our ultimate aim is to make a movement and we cannot do this alone. This is why outreach is so important. As a programme we make sure that our work impacts more than just the employees working within Technology. All of the workstreams have an external facing element. For instance, the juniors programme team are preparing materials for ad hoc sessions with schools and preparing a strategy for our wider impact programmes. The Experienced Hire workstream continue to support the firm wide work on the gender pay gap through recruitment practices and the Mentoring and Senior Leadership workstreams are collaborating with external programmes to help mentees meet their personal goals and share best practice.
How does it feel to be on the WIBF Awards for Achievement Shortlist?
Being shortlisted for the WIBF awards is a great honour. As programme founder I am both excited and encouraged that IT’s Her Future is being recognised externally for the great work it is carrying out. I also know that this recognition is valued by the whole team. I am incredibly proud of each member of our ever growing team, who demonstrate commitment and hard work, going above and beyond the demands of their day jobs to ensure that the programme continues to drive forward and generates tangible change. As we launch our new juniors programme, this shortlisting provides timely motivation and encouragement for us.
What is an essential quality of a successful manager?
Successful managers should be able to delegate effectively. This not only is essential for them, providing the time to manage and oversee a number of workstreams or projects, but it empowers the junior staff. By providing more junior team members with ownership and responsibility it encourages positive behaviours, and a greater level of commitment to the work. To successfully delegate helps to support the next generation of managers, through allowing individuals the opportunity to learn by doing, in a safe and supportive environment, where the manager is on hand to provide coaching.
Do you use social media? Which is your favourite platform and why?
Yes - I use both LinkedIn and Facebook on a regular basis. LinkedIn allows users to keep up to date with their professional network and follow industry leaders. But my favourite platform is Facebook, I find that it is great for sharing photos and memories with those you see often. But also for keeping in touch with those who you can’t connect with in person, for example those friends or families members living abroad!