7 years. 7 life lessons. 7 Thoughtworkers.

By Fiona Byarugaba

October marks 7 years of my career journey at Thoughtworks. It’s been everything but dull. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds and evolved into a more wholesome person who’s never been more confident about taking up space and standing tall.

Over the years, I’ve taken on various roles and I’ve had the privilege of working alongside some of the smartest people at Thoughtworks, many of whom are “non-technical technologists”, like myself. I’ve learnt that the world is complex and there is no single path to success. However, I’ve found some common patterns across a few people who have all led very successful careers. As I reflect on my last 7 years at Thoughtworks, I’d like to share the seven life lessons I’ve learnt from seven Thoughtworkers who have all played an important role in my career journey and in my life. Today, I’d like to pay homage to them.

Life lesson 1: When things are black and white, look for the grey. When things are grey, look for the black and white.

Gayathri Rao

Global Lead — Thought Leadership and Content

Gaya is no doubt one of the most intelligent humans I’ve ever worked with. What I enjoy most about working with her is that there are no grey areas with Gaya; you always know the full story and where you stand with her. She is a source of constant encouragement and a twenty karat diamond with A+ clarity rating.

I first met Gaya in the Thoughtworks Uganda office (which has since closed). Gaya was the Head of Marketing for East Africa at the time and I was a part of her team before eventually taking up the role myself. Here are the important lessons Gaya has taught me:

Image of Gaya
Image of Gaya

Life lesson 2: The world needs what you’ve got

Christine Ampaire (ex Thoughtworker)

Senior Product Manager, hipages

I worked with Christine in the Thoughtworks Uganda office, but in different teams. She was a Business Analyst in the Thoughtworks Uganda and Australia offices and I was Head of Marketing for East Africa and Employer Brand Manager respectively.

Anyone who knows Christine knows she is a brilliant powerhouse. She’s poured so many professional and life gems into me over the years. She constantly reminds me that my playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about making yourself small so that other people don’t feel insecure around you. She’s also taught me:

image of Christine
image of Christine

Life lesson 3: Pursue excellence. Even with the little things.

Natalie Drucker

Global Head of Digital — Marketing Technologies

In 2015, after the Thoughtworks Uganda office closed, my family and I decided to move to Australia to join the Thoughtworks team in Brisbane. I worked with Natalie who was the Head of Marketing for Thoughtworks Australia at the time while I was a Digital Marketing Strategist.

If the saying ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ was a person, Natalie would be it. I learnt so much from her — these were my biggest takeaways:

Image of Nat
Image of Nat

Life lesson 4: Make and keep promises to yourself

JoJo Swords

Global Content Strategist, Thoughtworks

I worked with JoJo in the same Marketing team. She was the Content and Communications Lead, while I was the Employer Brand Manager for Thoughtworks Australia.

JoJo’s ability to make sense of complex things is commendable. I learnt so much from her about being more intentional and pushing myself to grow. She always had my back, no matter what. She wasn’t just my peer — she was (and still is) a mentor who taught me:

Image of Jojo
Image of Jojo

Life lesson 5: Trust your wings

Ni Wang

Lead Consultant, Thoughtworks China

I worked with Ni on a couple of editions of the Thoughtworks Technology Radar, a bi-annual publication that highlights key technology trends and provides a guide to new and exciting technologies for organizations to explore and adopt. She was the Technical Assistant for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) while I was the Employer Brand Manager.

Ni’s attention to detail is impeccable. I suppose that comes with the territory when you’re working with cross functional teams on a publication as complex as the radar. We collaborated on so many things and I had a front row seat into the intriguing nature of how a well-oiled, highly efficient technical team operates. I watched and learned as she carefully project managed the technical process, including the Radar translations into four languages. Even with her incredible technical skill and ability, as a Marketer, she never once made me feel like I didn’t belong. Here’s what I learnt from her:

Image of Ni
Image of Ni

Life lesson 6: Nobody really ‘knows’ what they’re doing

Vered Netzer (ex Thoughtworker)

Customer Director, Versent

I worked with Vered at the Thoughtworks Australia office in Brisbane, but on different teams. She was a Digital Transformation Principal while I was the Employer Brand Manager.

Vered is a wonderful mentor and an expert at deconstructing the messy complex territory that is associated with life and work. Taking feedback is no simple feat in general as the feeling of being exposed and discussing perceived weaknesses can certainly be uncomfortable. Vered dispenses gems and shares truth with grace. If I had to pick the biggest takeaways from working alongside her, they would be:

image of Vered
image of Vered

Life lesson 7: We’re all in this together

Amy Lynch

Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Thoughtworks UK

These days, I work quite closely with Amy on all things Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Even though we live on opposite sides of the world, we often indulge in the exchange of great ideas and compare notes on issues that often come up in the DEI space. I always have something to learn from her.

She is the burst of creative, thought-provoking and positive energy you need. She always willingly shares her knowledge, she’s not afraid to say she doesn’t know, and she’s not afraid to try. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from her, it’s:

Image of Amy
Image of Amy

While I can’t summarize what life has taught me in a listicle…all I know is that I can keep learning from my mistakes, from my successes and from others. There’s a saying that goes: ‘you can go fast alone, but you can go farther together.’

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