You are a professional leader and a mother – How do you balance both the worlds effectively?
By integrating both. I give my best to the role I play that moment. I don’t discriminate either. My kids understand when I am at work, at the same time I don’t miss any of their PTAs / meetings. We maximise our time together. It’s a matter of having a balance between the two and it is best handled by setting the right expectations. My husband and my mother are my primary strengths and my huge supporters.
Any particular challenge/roadblock that has changed you personally or professionally? What did you learn from it?
Moving from Lehman Nomura where I worked for 11 years to Societe Generale was a tough decision – new company, a completely different role and a new city. But I settled into the new role in no time. It’s natural to feel butterflies in the initial phase. ‘To acknowledge’ is the starting point for any change in your life.
My Mantra: Be mentally prepared, leverage and use the expertise of your team to get the complete download, absorb and soak in and be up to speed.
Growth happens outside the comfort zone. Unless one gears up to step out and step up there will be limited or no growth. It’s true for both men and women. Your reach should exceed your grasp. It’s good to feel anxious and challenged at times.
How has been your personal and professional journey so far? What have been the key learnings for you?
Both the journeys have been rewarding and satisfying. I have two children (a boy and a girl). My son is in college and is independent while my daughter is still in school and needs more of my time and attention. When I got this job at Societe Generale, I had to move from Mumbai, where we were all well settled. My husband stood by me and supported the change. Having a supportive family immensely helps.
In all these years, I have learnt to value people and manage situations. I have learnt to be in the moment and give my best. That’s also my work-life balance mantra.
I have had the opportunity to work with many brilliant people in India and overseas. Different countries, cultures, work styles but giving their best performance for the company and the team. I am forever indebted to them for their immense support towards my learning and growth. In turn, I have passed my learnings to my team and my mentees. Have a bunch of friends (or whatever you want to call them) with whom you can open up, have fun and let the steam off. Have fun!
Are women slowly being accepted as effective leaders? Do you see the mindset changing in India?
Companies such as ICICI Bank, Verizon, Accenture and IBM have more women leaders today, which was not the case a decade ago. Things have changed and would accelerate in coming times. Inclusion is now more than a catch phrase. The value women bring to the table especially at the leadership level is being viewed as a strategic differentiator. Companies are working towards supporting a woman in two key phases of her life – marriage and motherhood, particularly the latter to ensure that they don’t drop-off from work. It’s a loss to the company and to the nation at a larger level. Having said that, for a man or a woman the key differentiators are skills and performance. Success hugely depends on how well one performs. I have spent most of my career working for MNCs where I have not seen much discrimination against women.
At SG we value Diversity and Inclusion. So, what has been our efforts to attract and retain female talent and in redefining growth opportunities for them?
At SG GSC, our key focus areas include ‘Attract’ and ‘Retain’. We are making significant efforts in hiring new talent and scaling up our initiatives and programs to set a benchmark in the industry. Our frameworks such as ‘Women in Leadership’ and ‘Mom’s Buddy’ are focusing on empowering women employees. The objective of Mom’s Buddy is to make it easy for new mothers to settle down by connecting them with their managers so as to understand specific requirements, provide mentorship, and so on. We are working towards supporting them with flexi-timings, work-from-home options, laptops and other specific requirements which will enable them to work at ease and be with their babies when they need them. Last year, we conducted mentoring sessions for mid-managers and the leadership team (LST). We are working towards building a framework to help women leaders move to the next level.
Tell us something that our colleagues do not know about you? What do you do when you are not working? What matters to you?
I am a trained executive coach. I did a program (ACP coaching) from Neuro Leadership Institute. I am a food blogger and a critic. My page on Facebook “Ideas2food” has around 6,500 followers. It was started with the idea to promote vegetarian food from across the globe. What most people don’t know about me is that I am a family person. I love going on holidays with my family and friends. Also, I love my personal space for well being and relaxation. I have been associated with NGO Round Table India for over 10 years, working in the area of Education for the under privileged.
What would be your advice to all women colleagues in SG GSC?
A few takeaways from my session for women colleagues recently:
Market or showcase your work: Women don’t showcase their talent at the right time and on the right platform. Take extra risk and eye for bigger roles and responsibilities. But remember that there are no shortcuts to hard work.
Network and identify mentors/ coaches. Identify your mentor, whom you can lean on when you need help. Look beyond your function / Business Line in choosing your mentor. Networking can happen in a town hall or inside a lift, it does not have to be after work networking
Have fun: Having fun both in professional and personal life is the key. Find some ‘me-time’ and not feel guilty about it.
Learn the art of delegation.
Choosing a life partner wisely is important, so is setting right expectations from the beginning. Share equal responsibilities.
Last but not the least stay focused on your goals. You need to have short term goals to feel confident and achieve larger goals.
Loved Padmapriya’s thoughts? Connect with her on Twitter @Priya_2703 .