Creative writing is an exercise in transformation. It transforms readers’ minds by opening their worlds to new and alternative ideas and perspectives. It often transforms authors too, as through the process of writing and editing, they sharpen their thinking and refine the words they use to connect their ideas to their target audience.
This has certainly been the case for two Capgemini colleagues, Elizabeth Kiehner and Anjali Pendlebury-Green, who have both had their writing published recently.
Elizabeth, who is vice president of Capgemini Invent in New York, co-wrote a graphic novel, Good girls don’t make historywhich depicts key moments in the lives of women activists throughout United States history as they fight for equality, including the right to vote.
Anjali, who is head of customer experience services at Capgemini in London, has teamed up with 21 other women to co-write a book, Meaningful Women: Leaders Reveal What Matters Mostwho shares their personal experiences and thoughts on how other women could benefit from the lessons they learned on their own journey.
Learn through storytelling
“Good girls don’t make history lasted four years,” says Elizabeth. “I had realized that in 2020 it had been 100 years since women had won the right to vote in the United States, and I hadn’t seen anything around that described history in a way that would appeal to young adults. . My family really enjoys graphic novels – they can tell stories in a colorful and dynamic way – so this format seemed like a good way to celebrate what happened 100 years ago.
To keep the book on schedule, Elizabeth worked with an illustrator and a co-author, and even got her husband to contribute. “Everything was done on weekends,” she says, “and even sometimes on vacation. During a stay in Mexico, my husband and I worked on the book most of the time, albeit in a warm, sunny environment by the pool. I have also worked on it on long haul flights to Hong Kong, Australia and India.
His ambition for the book was not to write a bestseller, but to get it into libraries and schools. “I wanted to put the story in front of people so they can actually appreciate it and see what lessons we can learn from it.”
Elizabeth also learned a lot about herself during the writing process. “It was a journey of self-discovery for me too,” she says. “There were names I was unaware of and incredible stories I had never heard. I was quite shocked by what I didn’t know. And that brings me back to the point that these stories really aren’t taught in schools. Getting the book out there was really important to me.
The journey of an author
Anjali’s writing journey was also a discovery. She was approached by a publisher who was looking for women in leadership positions to tell their own stories about the challenges and obstacles they faced along the way.
“In 1999, I left my parents’ house to start my career,” she says. “I was unmarried, and moving to India like this at that time was very rare. All of the women who contributed to the book grew up with different, sometimes difficult, experiences. The publisher wanted to put together a collection of women’s stories, to let people know that there’s nothing wrong with coming from different backgrounds and having those experiences.
Again, the writing process proved to be transformative. “It meant you had to overcome some of your own fears about telling your story. Some of the stories in the book touch on very sensitive issues. But learning to tell these kinds of stories is empowering. It was an enriching and enriching experience to discover that many people had to face challenges in their lives and careers. There will always be someone who has had a similar experience to you – you are never isolated. I really enjoyed the process and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Combine work and creativity
Anjali says her colleagues at Capgemini supported her writing. “Everyone has been appreciative,” she says. Elizabeth presented her book to colleagues during Women’s History Month. “They’ve been very supportive and interested, which I appreciate.”
She also links some of the book’s topics to the work of her team at Invent. “It’s ultimately a story of transformation,” she says. “These are people who needed to be persistent and resilient and get their message across through different channels. You can apply these positive principles in your daily work, through any change management project. »
Elizabeth and Anjali agree that getting a book published requires a good team and a lot of effort, especially when writing on the sidelines of a career. But the rewards of sharing stories that have the potential to transform the lives of others are many. In fact, this was highlighted recently when Good girls don’t make history won a social justice literature award from the International Literacy Association. The two authors also say that there are still many stories to be told. Indeed, the two are working on new books. Watch this place…