Yashmee Dewoo : first Woman Country HR Lead at Accenture
Helping and guiding people are what she loves doing and what she does best. First woman to be holding the post of Country HR Lead at Accenture, Yashmee Dewoo is all about the human approach. Advocate of women and gender equality, the professional shares with News on Sunday her atypical journey into the world of Human Resources.
She is what we call a people person. Wife and mother of two, Yashmee Dewoo is all about pushing others up, assisting them in giving the best of themselves and developing their best potentials in a sound environment. First woman to be appointed at the post of Country HR Lead at Accenture, the latter is also a women advocate. She shares that her journey began in Australia.
Wanting to become a computer engineer when she grows up, Yashmee however ended up studying for a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Human Resource Management in Australia. “I was growing up in the era of computers and thought it would be a great career to have. But I think like many students, once you have finished your HSC, you don’t really know what you really want to be. I was drawn to people, the understanding of behavior and the fundamentals of life. A major in Psychology provided me with the foundation that I needed. An MSc in HRM then was quite natural,” she says. She counts herself lucky to having had the opportunity to study at the University of Melbourne, the number one university in Australia.
She graduated in 2003 and landed in a graduate role at Ford Motor Company. After that she worked as HR analyst at Fosters International and consequently at KPMG. She had already started studying for her Masters at that time and thus, as she explains, she already knew then that she wanted to pursue her career in the field of HR. “Work life as any other modern country was quite hectic, but Australian work culture really promotes work life balance. Family plays a very important role – this is why today I pride myself in promoting the same values at Accenture Mauritius,” she shares.
However after having spent thirteen years in Australia, Yashmee and her husband decided to settle down in their homeland. “Asutosh always wanted to come back to Mauritius. He studied in Manchester and spent a few years in London. After which he then came to live with me in Australia. From the time we got married, I always knew that one day we would be back. To be honest I wasn’t too keen. I was very happy with my career and life in Australia but life changed after the kids came. We both wanted our children to grow up with their grandparents and we decided to give it a shot five years ago. Coming back was certainly not easy at all. Five years on – I am certainly more settled. The children are happy at school and we have found a good balance here.”
Objectives as Country HR Lead
Yashmee joined Accenture in 2014 and became Country HR Lead in 2017. Certified member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI), she became responsible for driving the company’s Talent Strategy, Engagement & Human Capital. She states that working for and with people has always been what she wanted. “I always wanted to work with people, my strengths lies a lot in dealing with people, helping and guiding them. So a career in HR certainly suits me.”
Her present major objectives as Country HR Lead at Accenture, she underlines, are to foster an evolving talent strategy and achieve the company’s 50/50 gender equality vision. “We are almost at a turning point in the ICT sector and finding resources in Mauritius is starting to become scarce. Therefore it is one of my main priorities to foster an evolving ‘Talent Strategy’ to continue to recruit and retain the best talents. My approach is a Truly Human one, where employees are genuinely at the centre of operations and their engagement is upheld. My mission is to help achieve the company’s 50/50 gender equality vision by 2025. There is no denying that it is extremely important to continue to provide a solid platform for women to be able to achieve their best at work.”
Yashmee is proud to say that her major career achievement so far has been to be the first woman to be appointed such a significant role within Accenture. “There have been a few over the years, but being the Country HR lead for Accenture in Mauritius tops it all, especially given that I am the first woman to have ever held the role in the last 17 years that Accenture has been in Mauritius.”
A Women Advocate
The 36-year-old HR professional is a firm believer in women and their potential. As an active member of Accenture’s global Gender Equality Team and sponsor of Accenture’s Inclusion & Diversity program in Mauritius, Yashmee is strongly committed to developing platforms that enable women to give way to their talents and advance in their careers. Why does she have women’s cause at heart?
I grew up in a family of girls. I have two sisters and our parents never made us feel that we were lesser than boys. Each one of us has succeeded in our respective careers and I believe that if we have been able to make it happen, so can other girls."
“I grew up in a family of girls. I have two sisters and our parents never made us feel that we were lesser than boys. Each one of us has succeeded in our respective careers and I believe that if we have been able to make it happen, so can other girls. There are too many horror stories about girls being ill-treated in various manners around the world. I know that I cannot change everything but I can provide my contribution at least in the work sector to help women achieve their best,” she trusts.
As a wife, mother and career woman, Yashmee does not hide that life gets very busy but she strives to keep a healthy balance between her different roles. “I love being a mother and wouldn’t have it any other way. I think one thing which really helped me is that I got married quite young but didn’t have children until later. So when I finally had children, I was in a comfortable zone and accepted motherhood with maturity. It’s never easy! I feel like I am always running a thousand miles but am lucky to work in an organisation where work life balance is encouraged. There is no frowning upon if I need to leave on time to be with my children. I strive to find a balance. I come home to have dinner and some play time with the kids and if need be, I log back into work later at night to catch up on what I need to complete.”
She highlights that she is more proud to have a very supportive team at work. “I have team leads on whom I can count on all the time and a leadership team which shares my beliefs.” Accenture in fact offers many flexibilities and facilities to its female employees, as Yashmee shares. “We have doubled the maternity allowance to Rs 6,000. We offer extended maternity leave. We encourage part time roles, compressed work weeks and flexi time. Upon return from maternity leaves, all female employees have the option of working from home and can change projects to more suitable working hours. It should be noted that the same facilities are also offered to our male employees!”
Our Country HR Lead is also a fighter for gender equality. Yashmee strongly believes that respect for all regardless of their physical appearance, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural and religious beliefs at any workplace are vital. “We live in a world where there is too much hatred already, a few wars too many, so it is important for all companies to provide a safe environment for employees to come in and be able to give their best every day. Diversity is the only way forward and the sooner other companies adhere to this line of thinking, the quicker the progress will be.” She encourages all companies in Mauritius to support and foster women talent and gender equality. “There is all to gain and nothing to lose. Having happy engaged employees creates a healthier working environment,” she states.
Challenges and future projects
We all face challenges during our professional career and Yashmee is no less. She confides that she had to face bullying at one point in her career. “In one of the organizations that I worked for, I was faced with severe bullying, it was like a tough race, and everyone wanted to win and in doing so, used unethical ways to bypass colleagues. I walked away from the organization, as I couldn’t work in a place where true values were not respected.”
The most important thing she has learned so far in her career has been, as she underlines, “to never settle for less than perfect. To always strive to achieve better results always.” She advises working mums who struggle between their different roles to never focus only on their careers. “My advice is simple, never jeopardise family, it comes first. Strive to find a healthy balance. Don’t hesitate to approach your employer for options of WFH and flexi time.”
We live in a world where there is too much hatred already, a few wars too many, so it is important for all companies to provide a safe environment for employees to come in and be able to give their best every day."
Regarding personal projects, Yashmee tells that she has recently moved into a new house and is spending time turning it into a home. Workwise, she shares that Accenture is excited with the launch of our Inclusion and Diversity campaign. “We pride ourselves to be innovative in every way at Accenture and bringing in a diverse workforce where every individual feels safe is a great achievement for us. We have also partnered with the Ministry of Education to launch ‘Cracking the Code’ aimed at girls of Grade 9.”
Furthermore, she adds that Accenture currently has over 100 resources from the NSDP program in collaboration with the HRDC who are either currently in training or already working for the company. “We are doing our bit to help alleviate the unemployment rate in Mauritius. We have also successfully launched the Accenture Academy at the University of Mauritius in partnership with the HRDC and University of Mauritius, so this is an exciting project which we believe will continue to grow exponentially over the coming months.”
How is she looking forward to the future as Country HR Lead of Accenture? “It has a bright future! With so many projects shaping up and so much to do, life is never dull at Accenture. I intend to continue to drive these projects with as much enthusiasm as I do today,” says Yashmee.