AWS Training and Certification Blog

Thomson Reuters: Building female tech talent in India

In 2015, Thomson Reuters, a global leader of business information services with more than 25,000 employees worldwide, initiated a cloud-first strategy for all new applications. In 2018, the company undertook the migration of its significant on-premises data center footprint to AWS, with the goal of starting to move legacy applications to the cloud. Over the next two years Thomson Reuters set a blistering pace, with cloud workloads tripling year-over-year. By 2020, more than 50 per cent of its workloads were in the cloud, and it has grown ever since. The company’s cloud migration was a tremendous technological success, and it also created an opportunity to upskill the company’s existing talent.

In 2021, Thomson Reuters enlisted AWS Skills Guild to help them build a tailored cloud training program to accelerate organization-wide cloud fluency and outcomes by providing a framework and set of courses for tech-curious employees to build new cloud-oriented proficiencies. The result was Nuvola Academy, an internal cloud enablement program purpose-built for Thomson Reuters employees. “We’ve been actively looking for ways to drive upskilling in the cloud space across the entire company,” says Christine Hoffman, Human Resources Business Partner at Thomson Reuters. “Investing in our employees is important to us. We look for ways to support and train staff who might not currently be in a technological role, but are interested in potentially moving into one.”

Christine Hoffman

Thomson Reuters saw a major opportunity to increase equity and representation within the organization. Technology jobs across all industries have historically skewed male. This was a chance to address that gender disparity. “In order for us to have a well-rounded company, we need to try to reach parity in our numbers of male and female technologists. We want to make sure that regardless of who they are, people have a meaningful career path here at Thomson Reuters,” Hoffman said.

Women helping women

To address the technology gender gap, in 2021 the Indian branch of internal mentoring group Women@Thomson Reuters (W@TR) partnered with Nuvola Academy to build a cloud training program tailored specifically toward women from the company’s Indian workforce. The program was spearheaded by Neha Mahajan, a nine-year veteran of Thomson Reuters’s Indian technology hub. When Mahajan did her technology training in India, women in the field were a rarity and formal training was hard to come by. The women who succeeded in technology were largely self-taught. “I’ve worked on AWS for a long time, but I didn’t have a foundational AWS Certification,” Neha said. “I realized there were probably many more women like me out there who could benefit from formal training and certification.”

Neha Mahajan

Neha pitched the idea of piloting a women-focused cloud training cohort to her colleagues in W@TR, Shilpa Naik, Thanigairajan M, and Shirsha Ray Chaudhuri. Together they partnered with AWS to make the program a reality.

After reaching out to Shawn Malhotra, head of engineering for Thomson Reuters, Malhotra was able to provide training vouchers from a pool the company had purchased. This allowed the group to establish three ambitious targets. First, an introductory Cloud 101 and Tech Essentials course for 30 employees, which had no prerequisites, was open exclusively to women, and prepared learners for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. In addition, they created two, 25-learner cohorts in two other tracks, targeting AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional certifications.

With their plans in place, the team sent an email about the new programs to workers in the Indian business region, hoping they would get enough signups to hold the course. They weren’t waiting long.

“In a matter of days, we had 683 people sign up across multiple locations, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Vadodara,” says Shilpa Naik. “The response was amazing. Making the training female-focused definitely allowed women to be more comfortable stepping forward and signing up.”

Removing barriers, increasing opportunities

The interest in the cloud cohort at W@TR was so strong, in fact, that their first order of business was to triple enrollment in the introductory all-women AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials course to three cohorts of 35, 35, and 30 (for a total of 100), along with the original 50 places in the more advanced courses (which require two years of prior technical training). The trainings began in early July 2022 and concluded at the end of September, with most trainings led by female AWS instructors who specifically volunteered to help teach the all-female cohorts.

Neha herself took the AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials course and was struck by how empowering the environment was for the women around her. “It can be hard for women in a mixed group to speak up,” she said. “This program created an environment where women can speak freely. Once you understand your skills better, you can take that confidence to other realms. Of course, getting an AWS Certification also boosts your confidence. You immediately feel that you have standing to participate in discussions and a true seat at the table.”

Another student, Liya Johney, is an assistant manager in one of the Thomson Reuters content management teams. She came into the course with no technical background at all, but came out of it with a significant understanding of the ways Thomson Reuters is using AWS Cloud to transform its business. “This was a great way for me to learn about next-generation solutions, and I’ve been able to bring that understanding back to my team. It really puts us a step ahead in understanding automation, how content is managed in the cloud, and more. It definitely piqued my interest and I hope to do more courses in the future,” she said.

Investing in diverse cloud talent

For Christine Hoffman, the women-focused program was the perfect solution to an area the company is deeply invested in addressing. “We have skilled professionals in India who we want to make sure are growing in their careers,” Hoffman said. “We want to do everything we can to encourage equity and diversity and level up those skills as much as we can. We want all of our employees to believe in themselves and put themselves out there. Anything we can do to get them to take that leap of faith is something we want to explore. Our work with AWS helped us build a place for more of this diversity and equity, while simultaneously bolstering the cloud skills within the company. We couldn’t be happier about it.”

Women@TR (Thomson Reuters) India