Rudrani Djwalapersad, Netherlands
Rudrani Djwalapersad graduated from Erasmus University in Rotterdam in 2010 with a masters of business administration and financial law. She subsequently joined EY in 2013.
Can you take us through your journey to EY?
So I completed a masters of business administration and financial law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. I graduated from Erasmus in 2010 and due to the current state of the economy at that time I took a year off and travelled. After my travels I started working at a small consulting company where I mainly focused on information security and risk management. It was different from business administration, but it was an area that I always had an interest in. After two years there, I was contacted by a recruiter at EY and spoke about opportunities that might be suitable. They were looking for people to travel to London to gain new experiences and knowledge. EY was not the first firm to come to my mind, in fact I was considering applying to other big four organizations due to their vast knowledge in cyber security. I was drawn to EY in the end as they were looking to really develop their cyber security offering.
So in 2014 I joined EY as a senior consultant in the cyber security division. I was the second person in the team at the time and we now have 10-15 people in the team. The challenge was that we needed to start from scratch as everybody knew us as the IT auditors and the assurance providers but not as an advisory partner. That was a big challenge and in many ways, it still is. It can be difficult to change people's mindsets. Although cyber security has always been my main field of interest, I like the ability to be a bit entrepreneurial within a big company as well. Here at EY I've received the opportunity to help build a practice like a business under the label of EY.
We also have a lot of conversations with our colleagues in different countries. So across the projects that I work with, we have a French team, a team in Hong Kong, a team in the UK, and you all work together to deliver exceptional service to the one client. So, it's very international and I like that. It's diverse, which is something I really enjoy. Together with colleagues from other countries, you have the opportunity to come up with innovation solutions. If you work hard, people will notice it and you will be rewarded.
Tell us a bit more about the network for non-native Dutch women that you've helped to establish?
After I graduated from university I went back to Suriname in South America, it is a small colony of the Netherlands where my family resides. What I found really interesting after graduating was that I saw a lot of networks specifically created for some non-native groups - such as people from China, India and all corners of the world. I wanted to expand my network for young professionals, whilst making a positive different at the same time. I enrolled in a couple of workshops and learned more about networking and entrepreneurial ventures.
One thing I didn’t like about the workshops was the fact that you often met the same people at each of these events. So I thought I should build my own network and after some time passed, a couple of non-native women had shown some interest. I looked up their profiles on LinkedIn and saw they were after that same things I was but just weren't being hired anywhere. At EY we talk a lot about management and diversity. I see a lot happening across the lower levels of the organisation but less activity taking place at more senior levels. I really wanted to help so I suggested the non-native women network to a manager and he liked the idea and helped me launch it.
We held a brainstorming session with 21 women from different backgrounds and they all showed an interest in the network. EY plays a big role because they are our sponsor and have provided us with resources which we’re very grateful for. Now the challenge that I have is sharing the knowledge and best practice that I have picked up with friends who may work in government or other universities and companies. Our whole mission is to empower women from different backgrounds and experiences. The main focus for me is around creating a community. With the members that we currently have, we're wanting to build a section of the website where members can take part in things like forum discussions, almost a mixture of Facebook and LinkedIn. So really giving people the resources they need if they have any particular challenges or questions to share with the wider group. We also want to have ambassadors and more focus on coaching for both men and women.