Suba Subramanian 
Director Consulting Services

Have you had the satisfaction of tackling a complicated puzzle and solving it? Whether it takes you a day or a month, you are proud of finding the solution.

That's how I approach my work here at CGI. I like to solve puzzles, and every workday is about solving puzzles—sometimes for our members, sometimes for clients. It's about tackling new challenges every day.

It keeps the work interesting. Every day when I wake up, I know I'll have something new coming my way that I can solve. It exercises my capabilities, my creativity and my imagination. Each day is different, and each day is challenging and exciting.

Of course, it's common to refer to client needs as problems. I think the word has such a negative connotation; I'm not trying to bring solutions to them for problems. I'm trying to solve the puzzles for them. There is a challenge there. It's a puzzle; how do we solve it, and how do we make it easy for them?

Maybe it's just me, but I think the word "puzzle" keeps me mindful that my team's value to our clients is a partnership. They can go with any vendor and work with any big firm. The value we bring in is trust and partnership. I want them to feel like we are solving their puzzles together, and we, on the CGI side, are working in their best interest.

CGI's Suba Subramanian

My association with CGI started in 2009 when I worked as a subcontractor to CGI under my previous employer. I worked on hurricane relief programs connected to hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. One of our leads in the Sandy recovery program casually mentioned that I should consider joining CGI. It stuck with me, and I started my life here in October 2014.

My second day at CGI was the company-wide annual kickoff meeting called The Annual Tour, and the member who had first guided me toward the company appeared on this giant screen. I was looking at it, wondering if I would see myself there one day. Then it happened for me in 2019 when I was featured in a video broadcast at the event.

Diversity

New or prospective members should remember: Don't feel like you're working for CGI; think you are CGI. When you get in the habit of thinking like that, when it's ingrained in your brain, you will go a very long way in CGI.

Within CGI, expect to encounter a wide diversity of people. I have folks from several different ethnicities on my team. We know a mix of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures works best because our clients are diverse. We all do the same work; it's about serving the client. That's all we are trying to do. Maybe we speak in different accents, but we're all working towards the same goal.

I always feel like if you go with an open mind, it's really fun. You get to learn a lot of new things. The world is a big place, with many new things to learn, a lot of cultures and a lot of interesting points within those cultures—dances, music, and more.

Staying empowered

I'm a woman in a male-dominated industry. I don't necessarily find that a disadvantage at CGI, but I think we still need to work on empowering women—here and in the industry in general. I'm a very vocal person. I've always been willing to ask for what I want, and I've gotten a lot of support from CGI.

I feel like I'm heard here. I do feel empowered. If I'm an owner, then I should be heard. I'm part of the team.

I'm part of our women's forum, and it's helpful. We meet every month. Sometimes we talk about movies that feature inspiring women, like "Hidden Figures." We talk about the women's side of things.

The problems our industry has with empowering women are not just CGI's; it's worldwide. Giving women the opportunity to get together and talk and then put our concerns forward from a position of consensus is a step in the right direction.

I am part of the member engagement committee as well. We hear member concerns. It's a platform where we can bring those things, and if there is a forum to address those concerns, we can help.

Embracing heritage

I come from a city called Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu in the southern part of India. My dad worked in government services there, but in state government in India, you have to move every three years. These rotations are part of an effort to reduce malpractice and corruption in the government. I lived in many cities and towns in Tamil Nadu as I grew up before we settled in Chennai.

After I finished my education, I went to work for a company that sent me to the United Kingdom. I got a job opportunity in the U.S., where my fiancé (now my husband) lived.

CGI's Suba Subramanian in white Onam attire
CGI's Suba Subramanian in Onam attire

I believe it is essential to be connected to your ancestral culture, even living on the other side of the world. There is a large Indian community in this area in Virginia. We do American things and we do Indian things as well. I've been in the U.S. for more than ten years, so this is my second home; India is home too. We celebrate Diwali, which marks the new year in Tamil Nadu; we also celebrate Onam in September, a festival from my husband's state, Kerala. But we celebrate the Super Bowl, too. Come on, it's a massive celebration with pizza and beer, so it has to be celebrated, right?

Our heritage shapes us as we grow into adulthood. India may be a conservative society, but we've had a woman as president and as chief ministers in the government. I went across India—two days by train—to go to college at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science. I had my parent's support, despite relatives questioning why they would allow me to go so far from home.

Indian society is changing. There is a lot of support for women's education. The mindset that I grew up inside of helped me shape my career. They helped me build confidence and the courage to step out of my comfort zone.

It helps me now as I move ahead in my career. You have to understand that you have to put in the work and expect to advance incrementally. It won't happen overnight. If you want to become a Director of Consulting Services, you have to work as a pseudo-DCS first. You will show you can do the work before moving up into the role with more responsibilities, higher risks and significant stress.

That's how you shape your career. Whatever you want to do next, start doing it now in your current role; learn what you need to know and show your managers and leaders that you can do it.

You might think of your career arc as one more puzzle to solve. The pieces may be clear and well-defined, but they fit together in only one way. Your challenge is to find the right piece at the right time to slowly fill out the picture.

Read more member experiences in the Life At CGI blog series
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Life at CGI

Life at CGI is a different experience for each CGI member. Some of them tell their stories in this dedicated blog.