Why life-long learning is a passion, not a chore

I never stop learning. And that would be my advice to anyone just starting out in their career or even others — like myself — who have been working for many years. I joined Capgemini 24 years ago before coming across to Sogeti in 2019. During that time, learning has been important both for my career and in my client relationships.

My most recent certification was the SAFE Scrum Master but that’s just the latest on a certification journey that started over 10 years ago.

So, to go back to the beginning, I started out as a software developer and worked my way up to program manager. Today, I manage the Automation and AI practice within Sogeti India, having taken on this role in June 2021. It’s a large team and we handle the end-to-end cycle of sales, delivery, and operations of RPA and AI engagements for clients in Europe and the US.

Over the past few years, rather than delivering for a specific client, I’ve had wide-ranging experience, from business development and pre-sales, to solutioning and now handling the entire practice. While I am a techie person and always will be, I feel that certification isn’t just about the technology aspects. When you stand in front of a client, it’s an assurance of your credibility — to your client and to yourself.

It's also good when your work and learning go hand-in-hand. For example, in 2019 I completed a one-year intense diploma course in AI and machine learning, which aligns with the practice I’m now leading. I did this at my own instigation in the knowledge that while I might not be a core expert in topics like neural networks or computer vision, I can have a practical and knowledgeable conversation with clients about their needs in these areas.

With my latest certification, it was a case of recognizing that more and more companies are moving into Agile, so acquiring SAFE Scrum Master certification was a logical step. It has helped me think about how we use Agile for our Automation and AI deliveries. In a sense, it merges the technical with delivery, so I am able to have client conversations both about what our solution will comprise and how we’ll deliver it.

I’ve been talking about my own certification journey, but I also encourage my team to stay updated with the latest qualifications. In this aspect, I think it’s important to choose a certification that’s relevant to the work you’re doing, but also think of the bigger picture. So, for example, if you’re working in AI, build your expert knowledge in this area but then add in other aspects, such as automation, cybersecurity, or cloud. You don’t have to have such deep knowledge of these aspects, but enough to see how they work together alongside your area of expertise.

In other words, keep learning, keep getting certified. Don’t see it as a tick-box exercise. Learning is not a chore and shouldn’t be thought of as a chore. I’ve set myself a target of a new certification every 2-3 years. That’s because I want to keep on learning.