Women in IT: Sara Tugcu Pedersen

8 February 2023

"IT is simple and complex at the same time"

A bachelor's degree in IT and Communication was not technical enough for the Managing Consultant at Delegate, Sara Tucgu Pedersen. Therefore, she applied to an IT University and went on exchange in the USA to focus on topics such as data mining and programming.

"I have probably always had a fascination for bridging the gap between tech and people. Maybe because my dad is an engineer while my interest in communication comes from my mom. I spent my gap years after high school reflecting on the lowest common denominator for people in the world and I came to the conclusion that it is communication - and then it is IT," says Sara.

Her fascination with IT lies largely in the paradox that IT is both simple and complex at the same time:

"There is something about the technical side, this 'black box' that I find incredibly interesting. You have codes for how to write this system so it works. And yet, when you start building it and making changes, additions, or integrations - adding human dynamics - it becomes super complex. On paper, we know how it will act, but in reality, it doesn't always work out that way. In that way, IT is both simple and complex at the same time, like people, and that motivates me a lot."

Sara dreamed of starting her IT career as a consultant and was determined to land a position at the global consulting firm Accenture when her thesis was handed in. However, fate had it that she became pregnant with her first child in the middle of the application process:

"It was important for me to play with open cards, and fortunately, the people at Accenture were like "Of course, you should still be with us." So I ended up at a big customer where a large team of us were upgrading from Lotus Notes to Microsoft 365."

Fast forward to January 2020, where Sara and her husband have just returned after a few years in Germany, where they had their second child. In her search for a new job in Denmark, she stumbled upon Delegate.

"It was so cool to see a company that dared to explicitly write on its website that we put the employee's well-being first. So I sent an unsolicited application and had an interview. And then the Covid-19 hit."

"There is something about the technical side, this 'black box' that I find incredibly interesting. You have codes for how to write this system so it works. And yet, when you start building it and making changes, additions, or integrations - adding human dynamics - it becomes super complex."

Consultant at Delegate

After half a year of stagnation due to Covid-19, could Sara, in the summer of the same year, step into the Delegate office in Virum, where she is now a Managing Consultant, lead of five colleagues and with the customer responsibility of one of Delegate's largest customers:

"In the name of our customer, I have three hats overall. The first hat is my responsibility to ensure that all Delegaters at this customer are happy and receive the support and guidance they need. What we at Delegate call the 'employee promise'. The second hat is to ensure the partnership with our customer, to make sure they are happy and satisfied, and that we develop together so we can support their journey. What we at Delegate call our 'customer promise'. The third hat is that as a functional consultant, I am part of a Scrum Team, where I support where I can in bridging the gap between IT and business. For example, by ensuring that we deliver value based on what the platform can do within standard, since I am not a programmer. The common thread for all three hats is a personal core value I have about creating intimacy.

A typical day for Sara starts with a 15-minute scrum session, where she checks in with her team and maps out if there are any challenges to be addressed. And then she has a backlog of tasks she is dedicated to:

"For example, it can be clarifying new wishes for the platform from the business. Over a period, one or more sprints, it will be an iterative process where I investigate what their actual needs are. A very practical example could be that a customer has an idea that they want a specific functionality, but in fact the actual need is something completely different. But either because the customer is in the middle of it, or because of something political, they are locked in on one specific solution. Here it is my task to understand the customer's business and problem and be able to challenge and concretize possible solutions, based on an understanding of the value they want to create.

Sara's role requires that she knows the platform and knows what the system can do, and she needs to be aware of when a task requires resources other than what she possesses:

"If there are challenges in a solution for the customer, as a consultant I have a responsibility to also know when it's not my area of expertise and then take the task and ensure that it is anchored in the right place, by 'empowering' my colleagues to take responsibility for the task. My goal is that together as a team we can be more proactive than reactive."

Lack of Female Role Models

In an industry where women are significantly underrepresented, Sara has been lacking role models that demonstrate how to balance both a career and family, and other things that are important in life:

"I have been lacking someone to mirror myself in, in terms of how I would like to pursue my career. Someone who stands up for and represents the softer values and interests in an industry that, on paper, has a slightly more masculine approach to everything."

What would you say to a woman considering entering the IT industry?

"Do it! Don't be insecure about whether there is room for you and what you bring to the table. Once I started believing in and getting better at articulating what I bring in terms of value, others started seeing it too. Right from the beginning of my studies, I was through, for example, case competitions and career days influenced by a norm that the IT industry is based solely on masculine values, because it was often represented as such in these forums. And it was not an environment I was familiar with from the IT University, where we just sat and geeked out together, and where everyone, regardless of soft or hard core values, could contribute something. So I was left with uncertainty about how I would fit into the corporate world. But I have succeeded in doing so today."

A life in balance, where there is room for both a career and leisure, is exactly what Sara has come closer to at Delegate:

"At Delegate, there is room to create balance, for us as employees to be whole human beings and still be ambitious. We have a culture that is influenced by feminine values, established in our core values; our DNA of reciprocity, acknowledgement, and presence. It is so important because it permeates everything we do – our community and projects – and thus our success."