A multi-tasking women is always a winner
HOW WORKING WOMEN SHOULD FIND THEIR WAY FORWARD
By Sudha Menon
At one of my motivational talks on “Women, Work and Leadership Development” at a prominent IT company recently, I was approached by a timid young woman who stayed back after her colleagues had left, to talk about her very challenging situation. Turns out she had delivered a baby four years ago and had to give up her job so that she could raise the child. She had recently come back to work but struggled to cope between being mom and employee.
It is the same old problem that all of us women face – being pulled in different directions by the competing demands of our careers, guilt over leaving our kids so we can go to work, and the mind numbing fatigue that takes over body and soul from constantly being on the treadmill.
While most women at the talk listened, some terribly boyish young men ones and some middle-aged ones too, sat through the entire event as if none of it concerned them. Kids? Home? PTAs? What has it got to do with us, was very clearly the attitude.
My heart went out to her a bit when she said that despite the fact that this is not the first time and will certainly not be the last time that I have heard this story. Young women meets man of her dreams, marries, children come along, family responsibilities follow and before she knows what hit her, her career is on the back burner while she feeds and burps the baby, changes diapers endlessly, and struggles to look reasonably sane while all this is being achieved.
Don’t worry too much about it. It will get better. The kids will be grown up before you know it and you will be free to pursue your own goals – I said. You have to just hang in there and keep the faith.
As a very young mother I had struggled with all of these and emerged triumphant in spirit, raring to go. Being a work- from -home journalist taught me time management, prioritisation, discipline and the merit of delegating some stuff. Supermoms and tiger moms end up burning themselves out and that is no good for anyone, especially themselves.
Admittedly I lost my younger years without any ‘me time’ – I never went to the spa, bought myself glamorous clothes or pampered myself with holidays. I know a few women who insist it cost them their marriage because who wants a hag who smells of baby vomit, right?
At a panel discussion on the journey of power women from being bosses at work to moms at home, veteran banker and CEO of investment bank Moelis India, Manisha Girotra, charmed the audience when she spoke of being terrified of having to live without a nanny at home to look after her daughter. “I might be the boss at the workplace, but at home the nanny is the boss”. Girotra spoke of guilt over missing chunks of her only daughter’s life, but said the trick is to be there for key events. “You miss some of the good moments but it does not kill you,” she said.
Capgemini India chief Aruna Jayanthi told her daughter early in life that she had a career and would not always be present for PTAs or birthday parties. Either she or her husband is present in the city at all times for their daughter and Jayanthi’s mother has been the chief nurturer since baby was three weeks old.
“If there is one country where it is easy for a woman to work, it is India. My colleagues in other countries such as France are jealous of what we have here, supportive parents and in-laws.”Jayanthi said.
Both these ladies provide crucial support so that their women employees can simultaneously fulfil their career aspirations and be primary nurturers at home.
At Capgemini, flexible hours is the buzz word, and employees can choose the hours they work to get the job done. Jayanthi herself burns the midnight oil after the child has gone to bed.
It is alright for a woman to take a couple of years off from work to raise their toddlers. “If they are confident and talented, they will always find employment. Corporates lose big time when trained talent stays at home,”Jayanthi said.
Yesteryears superstar, Sridevi came back recently from a 15- year break while she raised her two daughters and says she enjoyed the process, getting the kids ready for school, preparing lunch for them and being there when they returned home.
Both Girotra and Jayanthi insist 50% of the new recruits at the organisation are female. Capgemini provides mentoring programmes for women to seamlessly get back to work after a break.
Most women leaders who I interviewed for Leading Ladies, including Axis boss Shikha Sharma and HSBC India head Naina Lal Kidwai credited the loving support of parents and in-laws for their successful journeys.
Girotra has a useful tip for working women doing their trapeze act – Take each day at a time, put support systems in place to step in for you and keep going. Be stubborn, be strong and you will eventually master the act of being boss and mom all in one!
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