Carly Deason is a Senior Technical Consultant at CGI. Starting as a graduate, she quickly progressed in her roles and has now been with one of the world’s leading IT and business consultancy firms for almost fifteen years.
Carly developed a love for Information Technology (IT) at school. She took all the IT classes she could, and it was a natural move to pursue it further at university.
In our chat, Carly shares her rewarding career at CGI, her tips for career success and the importance of workplace flexibility.
Highly responsive to people
As a graduate, Carly started as a Desktop Engineer, serving big-name clients and helping with any day-to-day technology issues. For example, if your laptop crashes, she would walk you through troubleshooting.
Carly then progressed to work on Wintel clients, which are companies who operate on Windows — that’s more than half of the world’s organizations! This role is a lot more specialized and requires knowledge of all Windows applications inside out. So, if your Microsoft Outlook stops working and you need to send that urgent slide deck — Carly and her team are the friendly voices to guide you through.
Given Carly’s calm nature and focus on client satisfaction, it’s no surprise that she eventually moved into a leadership role.
“When I first had that team leader role, there was a lot of focus on resourcing and time management for the team. Time is so important because there are so many different projects. All clients want their work done promptly and we have to make sure we have a handle on everything.”
More recently, perhaps the biggest win and, simultaneously, the biggest challenge was to ensure that all her clients were well equipped to be able to successfully and effectively work from home at the start of the pandemic when many companies transitioned to remote working.
“There was a rush in ensuring our clients had enough capability in working from home. This involved managing VPNs and checking if there was enough capacity on the server to handle the load. It was pretty much overnight that this happened, so we were swamped. The infrastructure was there, so we just had to make sure everything was running as smoothly as possible.”
Workplace flexibility is key to success
Carly works flexibly at CGI. Flexibility looks different to everyone — but the key is that CGI strives to support team members to work flexibly in order to meet client demands as well as maintain a work and life balance. Given the nature of CGI’s work, which is quite deadline-driven, a flexible approach can actually help improve productivity.
“I’ve had two kids, and I took two years off in total. The flexible working arrangement at CGI are great. I do a condensed week over four days. It’s still full-time hours but just worked over four days. It’s been good to be able to work from home when needed? My husband is a shift worker, and his roster changes every week — so the flexibility is beneficial.”
Flexibility is taken up across the board at CGI, including by men who have taken advantage of benefits such as extended parental leave and part-time hours. Carly says CGI are intentional about proving how flexible they are, and many leaders have openly shared how their working arrangements have helped them.
“Hopefully we can attract more women to CGI. Women need to know that there is flexibility available and you will be supported while you’re on [parental] leave.”
Carly says CGI are deliberate in their focus on diversity and inclusion, especially in promoting gender equality and balance.
“We’re becoming better at [diversity and inclusion] all the time. For instance, we have a Diversity Council. The group allows you to safely raise any issues or concerns you have any time. You can always join in the conversations to provide feedback.”
Mentorship and continuous learning
Carly counts mentorships from senior colleagues as a significant contributor to her career success. She recommends asking a lot of questions and seeking out mentors to bounce ideas off.
“In my first five to six years, I worked in a large team where there were a lot of senior engineers. They were great mentors and showed me the ropes from the start.”
Continuous learning and improvement are important at CGI, and the company offers a lot of development opportunities.
There are a lot of training opportunities here. For example, the on-demand CGI Academia platform, allows access to online courses, e-books, videos and even mock exams, at a time that suits you. There’s thousands of courses, including Microsoft and you can complete the exams to get certified.
Taking a byte out of the cake
When Carly is not working, she is sweating it out at her local CrossFit gym (or as CrossFitters call it, a ‘box’). The intense workouts are not for the faint-hearted. Her love of a challenge saw Carly and some friends sign up for a few competitions, coming third at her last one.
“The competition involved six workouts and then a final. We won the final, but because of the timing, we came third overall. I enjoy CrossFit because it’s community-based and orientated. Everyone makes an effort to talk and introduce themselves, and you get to know everyone. I love the mentally of it – how you’re not finished until the last person is done. It’s the only sport where the biggest cheers come to the last person — no one notices when the first person finishes.”
Other than the grueling workouts, Carly enjoys baking cakes, especially intricate ones for her kids. She recently made a Harry Potter cake for her daughter. She’s also made a PJ Mask and a Sonic the Hedgehog one in the past. We asked her whether it’s inspired from The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, to which Carly replied that these were all made from scratch with love and created over three days.
While Carly takes CrossFitting and cakes seriously, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s an active member of the CGI social club where they do activities such as bowling and trivia. Carly enjoys connecting with her colleagues, and she’s made many incredible friendships at CGI over the years.