Q. At what point in life did you decide to pursue HR management as your career ? Was there a defining “aha moment” when you knew or did it just gradually unfold?
Pursuing HR was more of an ‘accident’ than a planned action. I met with Srini Y of CMC (co-founder of the training division at Hyderabad) .. He was the one who pulled me into HR and actually gave me the initial learning, trainings etc. but what he said when he interviewed me stays with me even today.. he said ‘if you like to solve problems, ‘sell’ career, challenge status quo and people then HR is the place for you and of course bonus will be you will be paid to do what you like !” that was in 1996 and I am still with HR and never regretted a day !
Q: You are a thought leader in the corporate world. How do you think professional women just starting out in the job market can build their careers and become leaders in their respective industries?
I may give the readers a contradictory view which is .. in my mind it is professional first and Gender 2nd, you have to be a professional and then you are a woman or a man. I am a strong believer that just because you are born a certain gender does not ‘entitle’ you for a certain privilege just the same way as it should not deprive you of anything
Coming to starting careers ..
I would say
- Don’t shy away from making mistakes, but rather own them learn from them as that will stay with you longer than a job well done
- Challenge yourself, know what you like to do and play to your strengths .. know what you are not good at but then work so hard with the strengths that the things you are not good at is not a detriment. Also, knowing what you don’t like to do or are not good at is critical as you will be able to then work on it in ‘your terms’ and not as a development area
Q: What are some of the major challenges that you have faced (or still face) in your career? How do you solve them?
- Early on in my career I faced a challenge where I was considered ‘too young’ for a lead job. Today I see that trend changing and leaders actually asking to work with younger minds and often fresh younger perspectives .
- I think the biggest challenge I face today, is the balance between a professional and being a mother. Being one of the few women leaders in the organization. Often we are called to step in .. be it with clients or employees or our own internal stake holder. It’s really great to get all the exposure on the other hand it translates into a challenge of time and what you can do and not do, It is challenging and also an opportunity to grow professionally and personally.
Q: What is your opinion about the proverbial “glass ceiling” that exists for women? Does it exist or not? If yes, what can we as a society do about it?
- Well I strongly believe it’s a mindset.. if you believe it’s there then it is .. but if you think it’s NOT then you will make it happen ! and fight all odds
- For me every time I was told I cannot do something I put all my might into it and proved them wrong.. every time a professional places a ‘restriction’ then he or she puts a pause .. if it’s a temporary restriction, one can manage.
Q: I believe you’ve lived and worked in various countries while working for the Royal Bank of Scotland and Corpus Inc. in Dallas. How did your global experience help you in understanding the needs of a diverse workforce? What advise can you provide upcoming entrepreneurs and startups to build a diverse workforce and promote a culture of inclusion?
I believe the learnings are a lot, I ended up studying a lot about culture see the western culture is lot about ‘PROCESS/ RULES, COMPLAINCE’ but in India it’s a lot about ‘Relationships and face to face communications . when I returned from US and joined Deloitte I reflected on some critical cultural differences made working in these two cultures difficult, I had the benefit of working in both cultures , so here is my advice :
- If you commit a time / date to deliver a project or even a task or sub task – keep that commitment and if you cannot, share in advance and readjust the dates but never in the last minute
- If you cannot do something learn to say ‘NO’ it’s alright no one holds it against you – again silence is not a ‘YES’
- Invest in building relationships at work and find people who are like minded – it helps a lot in anchoring yourself in the organization and also the city / place
Q: Can you tell us something about your personal background? We’d really like to know how you were in school and your journey to CapGemini.
Well .. personal background is that I am youngest of the 3 daughters. My dad is an engineer and retired from Singareni Colleries, and mom is a home maker. My sisters were the very intelligent and toppers of their class I was an all rounder .. I studied hard but never the top ranker more in the top 10 .. I played basket ball and learnt a lot of team work and negotiation there. I also was very active in literary activities like elocution, debates etc
I enjoyed travelling a lot .. so I studied and did my SPHR from SHRM which was then given by university of Dallas then, I joined Corpus Inc and stayed there for years. Corpus gave me a lot of exposure in the form of writing policies, process, design frameworks and so on which today I realize is something that HR professionals do after a lot of experience.. I guess I started all in reverse gear 😊 I am happily married to Deepak who is my pillar of support and pushes me to do more each day. Together we have a lovely daughter who is 5.5 years old
Then I came back to India and joined Deloitte and again stayed long term. Capgemini happened to me while I was ready to take the leap for a much larger role .. I think Deloitte prepped me well for that. At Capgemini, it’s amazing place to work .. the organization has offered me a huge opportunity for true HR transformation, learnt a lot on Acquisitions and HR integrations front The exposure is something I never could have had anywhere else. I have seen myself actually grown in the role and in this organization The organization is very good at identifying Talent and then investing in them or should I say we are …
This is the place where I met my first woman boss Aruna Padmanabhan and what I learn from her is immense, I love the fact that she invests in coaching me in time and is unedited in her views. In fact, investing and developing relationships is something I have learnt from her
Q: How do you unwind and refresh yourself? How important are hobbies for you in daily routine?
well, you are asking this to a mom of a 5 and half year old 😊 … for me I like to read a lot, I am an avid movie buff .. and like to spend time lazing around house with my husband and daughter. I also am blessed with awesome family both my parents and my in-laws are remarkable people I love to spend time with them. my ultimate stress busters I think are music and food I love to cook and do a lot of experimental cooking .. making and creating new food is a passion for me
For me, hobbies or anything that resembles nothing like work is important as one needs to always rejuvenate oneself
My ultimate is travel. That is one time I switchover from work and focus the time with my family and friends
Q: Since our readers at iimjobs.com are mostly young professionals in the job search market—what are some pointers/words of wisdom that you’d like to share with them?
- Be authentic. It’s important. Develop and work on building honest open conversations than interviews, remember that finding a job is as important as a job finding you – it has to be a happy marriage . .