Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
My life has been about jumping at opportunities and serendipity to a large extent. I was studying physics in my undergrad when my mother started egging me on to do my masters in management. She had heard about a cousin who, after studying management, landed a plum job with Citi Bank and began to harbor similar dreams for me. Without knowing too much about how this decision will shape my future I gave my CAT exam and got through IIM Bangalore. But still my life was very much education driven and there was no sense of career planning yet.
I have never made a CV or resume in my life. Each job I have ever landed has been based on people who knew me (more often than not an ex-boss) calling me to take up a role. I think there’s a lesson there for all of us.
I don’t think we can really plan out our lives, but, we must be passionate to excel in something and work towards that. We should live each day of our lives keeping in mind that we are building a reputation for ourselves. The boss who changed my career around- taking me from advertising and appointing me the president of Zee TV, bet on me big time with that move. But he did that because he had seen how I work. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, as the saying goes.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
Juggling between being a mother and a working woman is never an easy task. The toughest phase in my career were times when I had to leave my sick child and get to work for an ongoing project or I had to skip familial commitments in my pursuit to meet a work deadline.
Missing family commitments, deciding to move cities because one of you has found a better opportunity or getting transferred, etc. these are some challenges and tough calls that need to be taken in a double income household. The best way is to take a well thought out decision for the good of the entire family.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?
A leader, in the true sense of the word, is one surrounded by devoted teams, who believe in her vision. And while most people today will join an organization, they will eventually stay because of the leader they have.
There are leaders who are- teachers; believe in value adding to their team and ensuring their team succeeds. Then, there are those who chase individual glory. It’s the former type that do better in the long term.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
A typical work day for me begins with an excellent cup of coffee, made by the best barista in the world, my husband! The next must dos are a walk and the morning papers.
Towards the end of the day, it’s watching a bit of TV especially crime fiction or some reading before hitting the bed.
The one thing that is part of both morning and evening rituals is practicing the feeling of gratitude.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organizations?
Over the years, I have observed, even extremely talented women seem to underplay their confidence at work. Women don’t volunteer for challenging roles, projects or even ask for increments, as a result they lose out on promotions. The one mantra every woman needs to follow is ‘let go of your inhibitions.’ We need to learn to take credit where it’s due. Tentativeness never gets you anywhere.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
Experiences have been my biggest coach or mentor. We need to learn from every single experience of ours. Having said that, the bosses I have had over the years have taught me a lot either intentionally or unintentionally.
Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker
Networking has always been important, people say in this day and age we need to network. The reality is, we have always been networking, its essential both from an individual and organizational growth point of view.
As far as tips are concerned:
- Don’t impose yourself or force a conversation with someone
- Don’t just network for the heck of it.
- Know what kind of people you want to be connected to
- Look at opportunities within your industry to make a difference
What does the future hold for you?
Life is unpredictable! I don’t know about the future but at this stage in life, I’m looking at individual growth and giving back to society. The intent is to increase my scale of influence in a positive manner and try and impact as many people as I can and help them grow as individuals and as professionals