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'I started cheering so hard I nearly fell out of my chair'

Being nominated for the Young Professional of the Year Award and ultimately taking home the grand prize as well: last year was truly a roller coaster for Aishwarya Dhall (23). What was the experience like for her, and what does she plan to do with the prize money? Aishwarya tells us all about it here.

Congratulations on winning the award, Aishwarya! Have you managed to catch your breath?

“Yes, thank you! The next day I was pretty tired from all the excitement and I did have to rest a bit. But I’m fully recovered now, and for the past few days I just can’t stop smiling.”

I can imagine! What exactly do you do at Capgemini?

“I’ve been working as a software developer in the Custom Software Development (CSD) department for over two years now. In addition, I often give presentations to clients, build prototypes and lead workshops on Arduino. During these workshops I demonstrate how you can automate simple things, for example in your house.”

Wow, that's quite a lot! How did you get into IT?

“It think it was mostly because of my dad. From a young age I was already taking computers apart and putting them back together with him. I earned my best grades in the technical subjects at school, too. After attending several open days, I eventually chose electrical engineering at Hogeschool Utrecht. In addition to taking the standard courses, I was also able to build real prototypes in this program. I thought that was awesome!”

After two years at Capgemini, you were suddenly nominated for an award. What was that like?

“It was really cool! I had already been encouraged to participate the year before, but I was still recovering from a jaw surgery and the timing just wasn’t quite right. In the end it was good that I waited a year, because during that year I was able to do lots of great things.”

Why do you think you were nominated?

“I think mostly because of the workshops I give, the prototypes I make and the Office Sense project I was part of. During the Hackathon last year, we came up with a way to solve the problem with meeting rooms by using smart sensors. We found out that meeting rooms were often fully booked, but if you went to the room and checked, no one was there. We came in second place with Office Sense and even had the chance to present our idea in Paris. I was originally only supposed to organize the Hackathon, haha!”

“The award ceremony didn’t quite go as planned”

When did you hear that you were in the final eight?

“I submitted my motivation statement with trembling hands at the end of August. A month later I finally heard that I had made it through. When I got the congratulatory e-mail, I started cheering so hard I nearly fell out of my chair!”

And then you had to turn right around and deliver a pitch in front of a ten-member jury and an entire audience!

“That was really intense. Spending five minutes talking about yourself and how well you’re doing – that’s a long time! Thankfully we were given a workshop to prepare for the pitch, so we had some idea of what to expect and how to draw the jury and audience into our story. In the end I just decided to talk about what I enjoy.”

It worked, because you ended up in the top three.

“That’s right! That was actually pretty funny, too. The candidates who made it through to the next round were announced in alphabetical order. That meant my name would be called first, so I was totally focused on that. Then when I heard my name, I thought: no, really?”

And then you went on to win the coveted award! What was going through your head?

“Haha. The final was another funny moment. The award ceremony didn’t quite go as planned: that huge check was already turned towards my side, so I already saw my name on it. We started cracking up, and that actually made the moment really spontaneous. I also thought it was incredibly cool and impressive that I already managed to win such an award at age 23.”

What do you plan to do with the €10,000?

“I’m going to do three things with the money. First of all, I’m going to upgrade my workshop and purchase items for it to facilitate more learning. Second, I want to buy new materials so that I can continue building prototypes and working with colleagues to develop their cool ideas. I was given that opportunity in the past, and I’d like to do the same for others as well. Lastly, I’d like to use the money to take courses on hardware. This will in turn allow me to pass my knowledge about hardware on to others.”

What would you like to tell other young professionals?

“Just be yourself! Do what you really enjoy and be proud of it. That’s the most important thing.”

Would you also like to work as a Young Professional at Capgemini and compete for this coveted award? If so, then check out our current openings!