Growing up in the chaos of 5 kids running around on a Sunday morning, there would always be a pocket of calm – my Dad. On Sunday mornings you would find him drinking coffee, eating skittles, reading the papers. To this day, the routine stands.

As I got older, I would say, “You know Dad, I’m going to be in those papers someday”. I had no concept of what that would look like – but as I reflect on the years and get ready to enter my thirties, turns out I would be talking about robots, automation and feature on a 30 under 30 list – three times!

Rebecca Keenan and Expleo Ireland after winning the Rising Star Award at the Tech Excellence Awards

How it all happened sometimes feels like a mystery to even me. Luck, hard work, a brilliant team around me – it was a perfect storm of being in the right place at the right time and taking every opportunity that was put in front of me while also making opportunities where I needed to.

The kindness at Expleo made it possible for me to succeed

Rebecca Keenan, Global Head of Process Automation, Expleo Group

University to Expleo

I started my career in the Expleo graduate programme in March 2016, with my first month in the company spent in our South African office. It was my first job out of university and I was joining the Business Analysis service. When I was interviewing, I kept coming back to Expleo. They were offering a graduate programme that I knew would have many learning experiences and the people that I met during the interview process made me want to work with them. They were enthusiastic, kind, fun and I felt like I would be able to learn and grow with them.

Rebecca Keenan in South Africa on Expleo’s Graduate Programme.

Upon my return from South Africa to our Dublin office, I spent the next 6 months learning all about Expleo, about being a consultant and learning the necessary skills to be a Business Analyst. I was partnered with an experienced BA who, to this day, remains a friend. He took me under his wing and pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to learn and gain confidence across multiple skill sets. This openness and willingness to help has been shown to me time and time again over my years at Expleo. The kindness at Expleo made it possible for me to succeed.

Enter the robots

Next on my journey was my introduction to robots. I was asked to look into Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – what it was and how Expleo could potentially utilise it to help our clients. I put my head down, learned everything google could tell me, reached out to peers in the industry and started shaping an offering.

I was given the time, support and investment to build a service from the ground up, and ultimately start selling (and winning) deals. I feel like I completed 5 years of learning in 12 months. What quickly followed was this: I was creating and running a service, leading a team, meeting clients and interacting with teams across the Expleo Group.

It puts a smile on my face when I think of the early days of the team. Organised chaos is a saying that comes to mind! It would be remis of me not to mention Conor O’Donnell here. He was one of the earliest additions to the team and we very quickly became a double act that few people saw coming! Between us, we started delivering RPA solutions, grew the team and finalised our internal training program. To this day, we are still problem solving a very wide array of challenges.

Rebecca Keenan at Dublin Tech Summit, Ireland

I want to reiterate that the support I received from Expleo during this period made all the difference. I had colleagues who could offer advice, I was given the freedom and space to learn and adapt the team as we grew and I was given a seat at the table – as the youngest (and sometimes only female) at it.

Going for growth

“When I ask you in a year, what did you do about it…what are you going to tell me?” – A good friend and colleague said this to me late one night while finishing a proposal. I was tired and a little lost on what my next move would be. The next challenge for the team was growth and scale across the business. I was formulating a plan for this growth while simultaneously struggling to figure out if I still wanted it from a personal perspective. I lost my way a little, with the pressure of expectation amongst other things weighing on me. I think that’s an important thing to note here. Was it all easy? No. Behind every award and name on a list is dedication, sacrifice, hard work, grit, determination, success, failure and so many more things!

I had to find a place within the business as a young woman trying to grow a service in an arena that wasn’t used to seeing my kind of profile. This in itself became a motivator. I took a step back, changed my outlook on things, took it all a little less personally and got to work.

Phil Codd, Managing Director, Expleo Ireland | Rebecca Keenan, Global Head of Process Automation, Expleo Group

At the beginning of 2021, I took over global responsibility for Process Automation across the Group. My biggest career step to date – again supported by a company which has invested in my growth for years. Expleo and the people that make it up have shown trust in me, and have had my back time and time again. There are still days when I struggle with that feeling of being lost – but at the end of the day – I am trying my best, like so many of us are in our respective roles.

The Business Post Connected’s 30 under 30 list, put together by the wonderful Emmet Ryan, celebrates a sample of the most exciting young talent in the Irish tech space. To be included 3 times is something I couldn’t have imagined when I started my career. It’s a reminder of how far the team has come, how much I have personally grown. The list also makes for great reading – the names and stories of the inspiring and brilliant people I have graced the list with.

So, what’s next?

For the Process Automation service – growth is the plan. We are currently recruiting across the Group as we continue to grow our client base. Maybe some if our open roles would interest you? Have a look at our Careers page for more information. We are also moving into more advanced and intelligent solutions, which is a fun challenge for the team.

Personally – I want to continue to grow within my role and do my best to be involved in Expleo’s Diversity and Inclusion programmes.

However, who knows what the future holds? I think that’s the beauty of it though – you learn and grow and change and usually meet some wonderful people along the way. At the end of the day, we are all just trying our best – so work hard, work smart, embrace opportunities, be kind and have some fun along the way!

Rebecca Keenan, Global Head of Process Automation, Expleo Group

Case studies