Sharayu Rane didn’t start out as a Data Science Consultant. But after a brief stint as an Application Developer, she found her calling. She recently told Fairygodboss, “The thing that has helped me both then and now is that I am always open to learning new things, be it related to technical skills or soft skills.” 

This openness has guided her successful career at ZS, where she works with a team of global project managers, helping companies solve challenges using data and math.

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She has high praise for the emphasis the professional services firm puts on learning. Right from the start, it sets new hires up for success by holding a week-long onboarding called ZStart Sessions. Sharayu said: “You go through lots of trainings to prepare for your role, and there are a few fun team bonding activities, too! I think most people make the best of their friends through the ZStart sessions.”

Below, Rane shared with Fairygodboss more about her career journey, touching on her love of learning, as well as the importance of checking both your email and your data. 

How long have you been in your current role at ZS, and what were you doing previously? 

Right after graduation, I had joined a company as an Application Developer. After a short stint of 6 months, I joined ZS. That was 6.5 years ago, and there has been no looking back.

Pivoting career paths can feel overwhelming. Why did you want to make this change, and what ultimately helped you do it? 

I was studying artificial intelligence and data science during my Bachelor’s degree and my final year project was in the same areas of study. So, I always had an eye on this field and I hoped to work in the industry. After graduation, though, I joined another firm as an Application Developer. Within a few months I realized that the role wasn’t making me happy, so I leapt at the first opportunity to join ZS. The thing that has helped me both then and now is that I am always open to learning new things be it related to technical skills or soft skills.

Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities, and what about it excites you most?

 In my current role, I lead and deliver projects with cross-functional team members in multiple industries such as FMCG, High-Tech, Fin-Tech, etc. In most cases, clients come to us with a business problem at hand, and we work very closely with them to convert the business problem into an analytical problem. I thoroughly enjoy this process of being able to solve business problems with the practical constraints with the help of data and math.

What about ZS stood out to you and made you want to join? What’s been your favorite aspect since joining? 

I truly think that ZS always puts its team members first, and everyone at the manager through partner level is directly reachable to guide us whenever we want. My favorite part since joining has been that I have had multiple opportunities to travel to client locations to interact with them and understand the business more. This has been truly a great experience for me, and I have learnt a lot in the process.

Tell me a bit about your first week at ZS. What made you feel comfortable? 

ZS focusses a lot on smooth onboarding for all ZSers. There is a week-long ZStart session, in which the leadership team presents our company’s goals.  You go through lots of trainings to prep for your role, and there are a few fun team bonding activities, too! I think most people make the best of their friends through the ZStart sessions.

What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day? 

The first and the last thing I do at work is check my email. Because the project teams are global, checking emails at the start of the day gives me a heads-up to what the rest of the day will look like. The same is true when I close my day — I ensure that I resolve any queries or doubts from team members. 

What’s been your favorite career mistake that you’ve made? 

Because data is the bread and butter of the work we do, you should never assume that the data is correct, or that the data follows some distribution pattern. You should always check the data. In the initial days I made the mistake of assuming things that didn’t turn out to be in the best interest of the project. So, then I had a hand-written note on my desk: “Don’t Assume, Always Check.” 

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received? 

As I have grown into my role, I was and still am passionate about delivering more and adding more value for ZS. But in the process, I had forgotten to say “no” to things. So, my project manager gave me this advice that it is perfectly fine to say “no” at times with valid reasoning. If you don’t say “no” you will end up overcommitting, and to deliver your best you will have to burn out. Burning out is not a long-term solution, as our career is long, so we should ensure that we are able to deliver consistently throughout the span of our career.

What advice would you give to other women interested in making a major career change? 

Be firm and strive hard towards your goals. You should be the one deciding your career trajectory and milestones, so take charge, and in the process, always be open to learning new things and never settle in your comfort zone.


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