Q&A with Jillian Moore, Avanade's Global Advisory leader

02 November 2020 Consultancy.uk

In May this year, Jillian Moore joined Avanade as the firm’s Global Advisory Practice Lead. In discussion with Cat Callen from Rees Draper Wright, Moore shares how she virtually integrated into the business, how Avanade has been adapting to the environment and how the digital transformation firm is embracing diversity & inclusion. 

Jillian, how would you describe your leadership style?

To use a cliché, “open”. The speed of change in today’s digital world means that what might have been correct before is no longer applicable. Therefore, I like to ensure that people know the direction we’re heading in, but understand, through open and honest communication, the challenges we are facing. I want them to know what hasn’t been resolved yet, how they can help, and that they always understand the context behind “why” we are doing it. 

I also believe it’s important to be empathetic wherever possible; how people feel is as important as what they do especially in the middle of the global pandemic. I want to make sure people can bring their whole selves to work and be the best they can be – as that’s a win-win for both the individual and me as a leader. 

Jillian Moore, Global Advisory Practice Lead

Tell us about your role at Avanade and how you have the found joining a new business during lockdown?

I joined Avanade in May in a global role and it already seems like a long time ago! Working globally meant that a lot of my interview process was virtual. I only met a very small number of people in person before I joined. Six months later and thanks to current social distancing restrictions, I still haven’t met in person many that I work with, nor have I been to an Avanade office, but I feel that my integration has been really smooth.

Having worked with distributed teams before I’m used to getting things done and building relationships over the phone and Teams video. The culture shock of starting with a new company wasn’t that severe given my physical surroundings remained the same. Plus, everyone at Avanade has been very welcoming; arranging times to connect virtually as I think everyone is conscious of how difficult it can be starting a new role. 

The harder part is missing all those in-between 5-minute conversations that happen when you are working in the same place – background context is harder to pick up. The weirdest thing is that while I’m now working closely with, and have gotten to know, all these people over the last six months, there will be a time when I walk into an office for the first time, meet them in person and feel like the newbie all over again.

Diverse talent is a business imperative and should reflect the clients we serve. How does Avanade enable diversity to thrive and what actions can be taken to bridge the diversity gap?

At Avanade we are lucky to have some amazing role models in our leadership, including our CEO, Pam Maynard, who is one of the few Black female leaders in the technology industry! There is both recognition of the need to improve diversity and inclusion in our organization as well as a strong commitment to make it happen. 

Going beyond this Avanade is working hard to create a company where its employees can be their authentic selves and our employee experience is anchored in helping every employee feel inspired, confident and cared for. It’s still a work in progress, but for the first time in my working life I’m actually in meetings where women vastly outnumber men, which feels quite strange! There is more to be done in the technology industry though. 

I’m optimistic that Covid-19 will actually help here – the disruption is already leading to different way of connecting and networking, as well as new working patterns which have the potential to be highly advantageous for primary care givers. We also need to do more to open up different routes into the industry – more alternative career backgrounds, and encouraging people who want to learn new skills.

The online world continues to outpace the physical at an exponential rate, how has Avanade transformed over the past few months?

In some ways it’s hard for me to answer that, only having been here six months. Certainly, everything we do has fully transitioned to virtual/online, even – most recently – the largest virtual design-led thinking workshop for our business strategy that I’ve ever been part of!

The challenge for us now is further adapting to this for the long-term. For example, understanding the physical and mental health implications of trying to balance work and life especially given that many are juggling multiple things – remote learning, caring for elderly parents or other family members. We have a huge focus now on the health and well-being of our team members which is critically important.

This year organisations have been forced to accelerate business-wide digital initiatives. We’re experiencing now, the mass adoption of trends that were expected to take years to materialise – what’s exciting you right now?

For me, the most exciting thing is the change to ways of working in the digital industry which will cause massive leaps forward in the diversity agenda. The way people network, build relationships, sell business and work continue to change rapidly in ways that will benefit people from more diverse groups. 

“Conscious networking” is taking over from socialising, meaning social group, gender and ethnicity are less of a factor in building connections. Flexible working patterns are also increasing opportunities for people in different settings. The increase in use of digital tools for all reduces gaps for people with disabilities.

Covid-19 has made people more aware of mental health challenges and self-care, which will ultimately challenge the “long hours” culture. Overall, the short-term challenges of Covid-19 could be the best thing that has ever happened to this (relatively young) industry. 

About Jillian Moore

Jillian Moore is Global Advisory Practice Lead of Avanade and Chair of The Board of Trustees at London Sport. With more than 20 years’ of digital experience, Jillian works with a broad range of organisations to realise their business and technology transformation goals. Before joining the firm, she led business units at Logica, Publicis Sapient, Slalom and Atos. 

About Cat Callen

Cat Callen is an Associate Partner at Rees Draper Wright, a specialist executive search and interim management firm focused on the advisory market. Cat is based in the firm’s London office and is passionate about diversity and inclusivity within her marketplace and, in particular, women in leadership.

Earlier instalments of the series with Rees Draper Wright:
Benoit Laclau, UK&I Managing Partner of EY Consulting
Jean Stephens was named CEO of RSM International


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