Article (July-2016)


An enterprising leader

Dr. Saagarika Ghoshal

Designation : -   Country Manager, Top Employer Institute, HR Leader and author, Ex-Board Member and Director HR

Organization : -  METRO Cash and Carry, Mumbai


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I am a small town girl with middle class values by most talented parents. My mother is strong-willed, hardworking and purpose-driven while my father (Bapi) was fiercely honest and extremely gifted human being. It is through their learning that the traditions, values and legacy of our family have been upheld. They have taught me that a woman's instincts and emotional intelligence can be harnessed in most positive way and we seamlessly can manage crisis and change. It is because of this upbringing that helps me being well- organized, spiritually inclined, well-balanced and keep my smile intact.

My father was a Banker and we moved cities every second to third year. I was born with wheels on my feet considering I had to travel with my parents for my studies, in my jobs and for holidays too. I did my schooling in BanasthaliVidyapith (Rajasthan) where other than studies I learnt horse riding, rifle shooting and flying an aircraft. I also had great interest in Kathak and Hindustani Classical. I was fortunate to move around for my studies to different places and culture like Mumbai, San Fransisco, Jamshedpur & Dhanbad. After passing out from NMIMS, Mumbaii started working with the Damania Group, I was fortunate to work with visionaries like Mr. Pervez Damania, Mr. Naresh Goyal, Mr. HV Goenka, Diwan Arun Nanda, Mr. Suni Mittal and Mr. Anil Ambani because these gentlemen are immensely gifted and each of them have a leadership quality which is unique and not to mention that all of them promote diversity and inclusion in their workplaces. Had they not been what they are me and many other women would not have gotten the wings to fly. In my journey I have met lot of confident men and women who have mentored me to become what i am today. It's their mentoring that helped me imbibe some of the values that I uphold today and has guided me in this long journey. In my journey of charting my own path I found few things very useful to keep getting better as I evolved as a person.

Coping mechanisms. At work or at home all of us have to tailor -make mechanisms to cope up with our own issues. Finding the right support mechanism is very important for our own success.

Clarity of thoughts and action: Identifying who am I ? Choices I make in my life are my responsibility. Hence it is very important to produce outcomes and not excuses.

Investing in self: Whether it's an additional degree or an image makeover or communication skills, it's a mandate to continuously keep yourself relevant. It's always good to seek feedback from mentors and work on it regularly. Investing in my own future is very important for me and I have always planned and saved for it.

Raising the red flag: It's not easy to stand up and talk about harassment and victimization. Fight might not be easy in the beginning but it's worth it.

Beware of the silent killers of success: First is your own guilt- to be or not to be, is the biggest killer one has to avoid. In today's time, taking time off work is not such a big deal so do take your calls depending on your priority and life cycle. Second is managing others perception. Does it really matter? Enjoy and live life.

The pink leadership 
To climb to the top is tough for anyone but for me the upward journey was far steep and I was always the only woman in my peer group. Today I feel safe to admit that I have seen the glass ceiling and biases at every phase of my career and have also learnt to deal with it. In my own mind I am a leader in an organization not a Man or a Women leader and gender aside, women leaders necessarily don't have everything in common. Each of us bring our strength, our inherent qualities and unique leadership ability to the table. Although research suggests how women are better than men at empathy - sensing the thoughts, relationship orientation and multitasking abilities. However, there are also stories of women leaders who have brought peace to troubled lands, while some have strewn discontent. Some have been competent and brilliant, others inept or outright corrupt. While all of us have our own productivity secrets, few amazing women leaders like Dr. Indira Parikh, Hema Ravichander, Lynda Gratton to name a few that I personally draw inspiration from. They have strong vision that enables them to be well-rounded professional and human beings. They can talk about people issues and the financial markets with equal ease. They run the show both at home and in the workplaces, they are superb in multi- tasking and highly collaborative. They recognize their own rhythm and don't stop pursuing until the task at hand gets done. They fearlessly stand for a cause they believe in .They are not afraid of trial and error as long as they continue to build the resource infrastructure around them that gets them closer towards accomplishing their goals. They would rather be patient than foolish. They invest in themselves and are knowledge seekers. They are fantastic in their jobs and rooted to their values. They extend their helping hand to all those who ask for help.

Ripple effect of Pink leadership is seen and organizations are making innovative efforts to woo talent. Impressively the Corporate universe now favors leadership based on art of personal interaction rather than on authority, we as women certainly have a head start there, provided we keep ourselves prepared to take on.

Being an HR professional
Let's face it !HR is still not the most sought after function and still is very personality driven. It is always about balancing between business realities and people realities though they are not distant from each other. But you always have the opportunity to change lives to create a positive impact and that is where I have always concentrated and tried to contribute in my professional career. When I was exposed to extremely strong unions during the start of my career I figured that only by being genuine and compassionate one can win the mind and heart of your people. You will make an excellent HR professional if you have the pulse of business and people and use the power of positive influence. I have always liked to take risks and innovated to create practices, tools and process which are ahead of times. I do feel that the time has come for complete reevaluation of HR Function.

The reality check
It's true that we are not yet in a gender neutral society. Needless to mention about the surveys pointing out of women being underrepresented in leadership roles and pay parity still a huge issue in almost every business sector. No matter what, the fact remains that it is women who has to balance between the biological and the career clock.

I also believe that it's a sure shot prescription for disaster if lady is hired to fill a quota and not for her talent. Personally I would never like to be hired because the position was reserved to enhance the gender diversity equation of the organization! Gender inclusion is more a business imperative and much needed cultural shift for many organizations to survive. Hence shifting mindsets at the leadership level is becoming a prerequisite for sustainable businesses. Sometimes it's good to foster dependency. Honestly even two individuals of same gender have to make adjustments while working with each other then it is absolutely normal for men and women to learn to co-exist and celebrate their coexistence because universe with one gender might turn out to be a horrible planet.

Solace is that there seems to be a positive trend and companies are opening up to inclusive agenda and more women creating Greenhouse effect in the Boardroom and elsewhere trying to break the so called glass ceilings.

As they say behind every successful woman there are confident and secure men and women! I am also lucky to have an extremely supportive family, spouse like a rock and a daughter who makes my life worth it.