Meet the Community of Women Making an Impact at ZS

Learn how ZS empowers women to lead, collaborate and innovate across its global team.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Apr. 16, 2024
Meet the Community of Women Making an Impact at ZS
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In technology consulting, innovation is the currency of progress. At ZS, that innovative spirit is fostered by a commitment to empowering women to succeed as they seek cutting-edge solutions for the firm’s clients.

Three women at ZS shared their journeys, each exemplifying resilience, leadership and a relentless pursuit of excellence — qualities that support their personal advancement and the outcomes they deliver to clients.

As these women continue to blaze trails and redefine norms, ZS's commitment to diversity and inclusion serves as an unwavering testament to true innovation within a culture of empowerment.

Built In learned more about how ZS’ team thrives while working together to solve complex client problems around the world.

 

Building a Legacy of Tech Excellence

Growing up, Principal Bazgha Qutab had no doubts about her ability to build a successful tech career — a path mapped by her mother, one of only a handful of women to hold computer science master’s degrees in 1980s Pakistan.

Today, Qutab and two of her three sisters have indeed built thriving tech careers. Qutab has been a trailblazer herself, as one of the first women to join ZS’s tech practice and a trailblazing early woman principal within the firm.

After first joining ZS’ Los Angeles business technology team in 2011, Qutab’s career continued to flourish in Europe, where she helped the firm expand its global practice.

“ZS has supported me throughout my journey,” she said. “Our tech practice is always pushing for innovation, so I’ve been allowed to be very entrepreneurial in this company.” 

Along the way, Qutab has found numerous opportunities to expand her expertise and grow her skills. The clinical design center stands out to Qutab as a highlight of her experience at ZS and one that emphasizes the spirit of innovation embedded in her work.

“It was a sketch that I did with a fellow team member in our San Francisco office — we had a concept in mind, and it has since become an industry-class asset,” she said. “If I have an idea, as long as I can prove value and impact, I can have a team come together to build a product out.”

Qutab continues to find room to grow as the European lead for the Women@ZS inclusion and diversity group, a position that also allows her to foster advancement for other women within the firm.

 

SUPPORTING WOMEN@ZS

Operating within the firm’s inclusion and diversity group network, Women@ZS offers members the opportunity to further ZS’s broader diversity, equity and inclusion mission while advancing toward their personal and professional goals. 

The group’s goals and principles include:

  • Enabling professional growth: Women@ZS offers an array of programs meant to support women’s development at different stages of their careers.
  • Launching connections: Women@ZS provides formal and informal mentorship networks at both the global and local office level.
  • Supporting individual choices: ZS offers flexible work options to support women through different stages of life, ease transitions and balance personal and professional commitments.
  • Aspiring to achieve gender representation: ZS’ H.E.R. initiatives focus on hiring, engagement and retention of women and gender-expansive colleagues globally and at every level of seniority.

 

“I like challenges and I like ventures,” she said. “It’s very cool to be developing products and serving clients while being under the umbrella of an established organization. I’d say that’s why ZS is a good place to be for women in tech. They can constantly be in startup mode while also being nurtured. ZS takes care of our people.”

“Women at ZS can constantly be in startup mode while also being nurtured. ZS takes care of our people.”

 

 

Bazgha Qutab and family members pose for a photo in formal wear.
Quatab 

 

Thriving Across Borders

Decision Analytics Consultant Deepti Poddar first joined ZS after learning about the firm through a campus recruitment program as a student in India.

She was familiar with ZS’ reputation in the consulting industry and was eager to put her data and analytics skills to work on the team. After four years of developing her professional expertise, collaborating with colleagues and excelling on ZS’ India team, Poddar had an opportunity to use what she had learned as a post-grad in a new way — by moving to ZS’ office in Evanston, Illinois.

“Working at ZS has helped me feel more empowered and independent,” she said. “The confidence I’ve built here has helped me push through my move from India to the U.S.”

“Working at ZS has helped me feel more empowered and independent.”

 

For Poddar, the move offered expansive personal and professional growth. As she navigated a new country and culture, she also mentored a new team of colleagues. Poddar’s commitment to cooperative and collaborative work not only supported her immediate team but helped her find broader opportunities for ZS’ India- and US-based teams to align.

Soon after arriving in Evanston, Poddar’s team encountered challenges supporting a client through changing goals and objectives — but Poddar’s responsive approach to relationship-building, deep institutional knowledge of ZS and industry expertise helped her to resolve those challenges and continue ahead.

“I was able to provide guidance for my team internally and support the client in understanding how we can use patient analytics to drive their goals forward,” she said. “This experience helped me grow as a leader.”

For talented professionals like Poddar, the ZS transfer program offers benefits to both the individual and business. While employees gain skills, build cross-cultural fluency and expand their knowledge of ZS, they also help the firm deliver on client work, build team capacity and fulfill business needs in offices around the world.

 

Empowered Leadership 

As a top-ranked workplace for women in India by Working Mother and Avtar, ZS is a leader not only in individual experience but in programs and initiatives that support women throughout their careers. With benefits like paid parental leave, child care assistance and flexible scheduling, women at ZS have the structural support to thrive both personally and professionally.

In the office, programs like Path to Principal offer women clear pathways to advancement. Designed for women managers in India, P2P equips participants with the skills and mindsets that will help them thrive in future senior leadership roles at ZS.

“One can pursue any idea or opportunity at ZS without fearing judgment or pushback,” Associate Principal and P2P participant Pavithra Kannan said. “At ZS, I feel like I have the power to carve my journey.”

First launched in July 2022, P2P offers women leaders from ZS’ India team the chance to participate in tailored workshops, coaching and learning sessions, and fireside chats focused on leadership and management skills. Each participant also worked alongside a senior ZS leader on an internal project that allowed them to put what they were learning into action. Kannan has long known the value of change and building on strengths to enhance the quality of care for patients as part of ZS’ health plan team, and P2P helped her leverage those practices in her own professional development.

“The program catered well to our development needs and addressed biases, helping us to develop holistically. A huge revelation from the program was knowing how my biases keep me confined,” she said. “My external coach empathized with my needs and shared amazing techniques to help me accelerate my efforts.” 

For Kannan, ZS isn’t just a workplace; it’s a community — a support system that empowers her to carve her path and make a difference. 

“My biggest takeaway from the program was that I am not alone and that there is a huge community within ZS that I can lean on to discuss my personal and professional dilemmas,” she said. “At ZS, I feel like I have the power to carve my journey.” 

“At ZS, I feel like I have the power to carve my journey.” 

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by ZS.

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