Hillier Hopkins – Inspiring women leaders: Neeta Gadhia

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International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme, #breakthebias, looks to raise awareness of bias and take action to forge women’s equality.

This year, we want to inspire and encourage women across our profession and in our client organisations.

We will, under our Inspiring women leaders series, interview and profile some of our clients, celebrating their achievements, sharing their stories, and inspiring others to achieve the very best they can in the workplace.

Whilst these interviews will focus on International Women’s Day (8 March) they will continue throughout 2022. Do please share these stories and do get in touch if you would like to share your own experiences.

#BreakingtheBias – Neeta Gadhia, Finance Director, CAE Technology Services

CAE Technology Services is celebrating its 30th anniversary. It has over the past three decades grown into a trusted IT adviser, partner and solutions provider to some of the UKs most entrepreneurial businesses, public sector organisations and charities.

Hillier Hopkins speaks to Finance Director Neeta Gadhia about the firm’s unique culture and the need for powerful female role models in the IT industry.

Neeta joined CAE Technology Services seven years ago. She has seen the business more than double in size, with turnover hitting £130m, employing 330 people across seven offices and having recently moved into new purpose-built headquarters in Hemel Hempstead.

It is, however, the firm’s unique culture that stands the business apart.

“We have a strong people-focused culture,” explains Neeta. “Today (Friday 4 March) is our annual ‘appreciation day’ where we lay on breakfast and lunch for everyone and have a day of games and challenges and any other way we can appreciate our employees.

“We have a quarterly CAE Stars awards, where employees vote for their colleagues who have shown the greatest support and stellar performance who then get a real star named after them.

“And throughout the year we have a number of initiatives including Wellness Wednesdays, a diversity and inclusion group, a sustainability group, book club, a charitable foundation and mental health support. Our culture is a massive part of the organisation and we even publish a culture book every year.”

Neeta since joining CAE Technology Services has built a 14-strong finance function and the discipline in financial reporting the firm needs to continue its ambitious group plans. She is shortly to move into a new role of Group FD.

A champion for women in IT

Her position, however, provides more than financial direction. Neeta is a champion and role model for women in the IT industry.

“The IT world is male dominated,” says Neeta. “I was an inaugural member of CAE’s D&I team and we looked at the male female imbalance in the organisation. Just 30% of the staff were female, and with almost no women in technical or sales roles.

“When we looked at STEM school leavers entering our industry and the balance is fairly equal, yet women quickly drop out in the workplace or fail to progress as the working environment does not suit most women’s home and work life demands.”

Neeta and CAE Technology Services has adopted a number of initiatives to redress that imbalance, including flexible working, a ground-breaking female-focused apprenticeship programme with Cisco and an all female training and development programme.

“A more balanced workforce is a better workforce, and research shows us that a more balanced business is more profitable,” says Neeta.

“Change does not happen overnight, but these measures and our strong culture is a positive step change. At CAE, all voices are heard.”

“If you can see it, you can be it.”

Neeta is a role model to many young women in the IT industry and was inspired early in her career at the BBC where its head of finance was an Asian woman.

“Women in leadership roles are so important, even more so in the IT industry,” says Neeta, “If you can see it, you can be it.

“The IT world is changing and there is a lot of support for women. Women do need to speak up and promote inclusive environments to drive positive change. Have faith and courage in yourselves to be able to go out and shape the career you want.”

Learn more at https://www.thisiscae.com/.