*Secondary Locations in Davenport, IA; Columbus, OH; Washington, DC; Tampa, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Raleigh, NC.
I started my career at a very young age, in a time where Indian girls were taught only enough to get them married, I was breaking all the barriers and preparing to conquer the world. I am a firm believer in acquiring as much knowledge as possible and seizing the opportunity that life presents.
I wanted to choose my life story. My parents taught us, “If you do the right things, then the right things will happen.” I was raised to understand that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.
Fortunately, I had a few women who influenced me in a big way, including my mother, female teachers, and professors who nurtured this sense that I could pursue my passions in life and that I wasn’t limited because I was a woman.
Very early in my career, I wanted to do more. To become a leader. So, I shifted from the technology track to Human Resources management. There’s been a real theme in my career around creating teams and environments where equal employment opportunity and diversity are present, and I definitely see that as something that all leaders should promote.
The breakthrough moment
I took a 2.6-year break in my own career when I had my children. During this personal journey, I became aware of the various difficulties a woman faces in order to re-enter the workforce. While I was on my career break, I noticed that most of my female friends- all well-educated, qualified and experienced lawyers, architects, engineers, MBAs –stepping out of their careers and not returning to the workforce.
The reentering challenges range from requiring flexibility, regaining confidence, retraining, overcoming biases, and changing mindsets. I then became committed to the cause of enabling women to restart their careers, thus started placing them within my own professional network who were breaking the bias, it gave me immense happiness.
I also learned that you do not have to avoid having a family to be an executive leader. A lot of younger women think that if they want to become an executive, they cannot have a family. I try to explain that you can do both things. You don’t need to separate these roles—leader and mother. Instead, you need to integrate them, and you will become a better leader. There are always ways you can do both things in your life.
Bringing up children and growing your own career are equally important tasks and you are responsible for how the future shapes up for each. While they both bring umpteen joys, they can also be the cause of frustration when you come down hard on yourself for not living up to your expectations. You need to just keep going and remind yourself of the larger objectives. Children learn from what they observe. A hardworking mum sets an example for her kids with her dedication and determination to strike a work-life balance. They too will hopefully imbibe those values and grow up to be passionate individuals with the desire to make a difference at work and beyond.
Fast forward many years and I’m now the Head of HR Operations of ICONMA, an organization which promotes diversity and breaking the bias. I’m happy. I’m learning. And I work with a diverse and growing team.
Happy International Women’s Day!
March 10, 2022