My Story is the story of any determined, logical, rational human being with a passion to make a difference.
It doesn't matter where you came from, what matters is where you are going
I never thought about where I came from but I always knew where I wanted to go and it was never about 5 years or 10 years, it was where I wanted to go with the assignments that were in front of me. I had a vision for everything - from the smallest thing like a token give away after a training program to the largest change management initiatives across global offices.
In the first few years of my career, a very senior HR leader told me that I have "to change the world propensity". I was in awe of that statement. "Really", I never thought of myself like that. In fact, I always thought I was less than ordinary. I always had a slight nervousness when I embarked on assignments - I always wondered if I will be successful in that endeavor? And I believe that it has worked for me by keeping me grounded, making me think about the finer details and making my endeavors successful. I never let nervousness impact my confidence - and my confidence came from always doing my best and leaving the rest to destiny.
The harder you work, the luckier you get
Given how hard I worked, often making personal sacrifices, I guess I was destined to get lucky. I got great assignments with great managers who made me think, who pushed my limits but who also cared for me at a very personal level rooting for my success at every step. They cared enough to show me the mirror and help me course correct when required.
Feedback is a gift
For any dynamic professional, getting feedback should be part for course - if you are going so fast, you are bound to make mistakes and being open to feedback and having some level of self-criticality is important for personal and professional growth. Having a senior leader watch your back, direct you when you are off track, share perceptions and realities is the most valuable gift one can receive. This applies equally to peers.
My fondest memories are when I worked with smart, intelligent peers, each bringing their own strengths to the table with a healthy respect for each other despite being in a competitive environment. We collaborated more than we competed and this made us a better team and I believe this resulted in better outcomes for the organization.
This brings me to relationships. Human beings are social animals and I don't think there is a single soul who does not gain happiness from good relationships. Therefore, logically we must have good relationships at the workplace where we spend a great deal of our time every day.
A very senior HR leader told me during my impressionable days - "I have my friends and family for relationships, I don't come to work to make friends". I understood this statement several years out because being in HR, people may befriend you to get something out of you or people may perceive you to have favorites which can impact your effectiveness. The boundary of relationships therefore needs to be drawn and its critical to be very professional at work. While this is true of everyone, given the level of information and confidences that HR holds, this is especially critical for all HR professionals. However, it does not mean that one cannot have good, healthy and happy working relationships within the boundaries of professionalism.
The ceiling never existed for me - the ceiling is in the mind - My family is progressive and I am sure that helped. With a double MA in French and linguistics and triple children, my mother was a homemaker by desire and not by default. My father - a self-made man climbed the ranks of the corporate world and was my role model growing up - I never realized there was a ceiling. To quote Ms. Vidya Balan who spoke to our employees recently about her career - "In my house, there was only the sky."
Stop the 'Show and Tell'
The issue is that the gender equation is imbalanced in favor of men. Women tend to suppress their own identity to "fit in". For a long time, I also tried to fit in but then one day, being a rational person, I couldn't figure out why I should - It started with the smallest things - why couldn't I have colors in my wardrobe instead of the blacks and blues - why did I need to be stiff in meetings and not have a sense of humor, why couldn't I show emotion if the situation demanded it. I couldn't find the right answer to these questions that fit in with my values as an independent woman with a voice, a head and a heart. So, at some point in my career, even I cannot remember when, I decided to be more comfortable and be myself externally along with being myself internally.
In a world where you can be anything, 'be yourself'
That has been my motto - I believe it makes me a better human being. At the end of the day, I believe that's what counts. Success is an outcome of what we do and how we do it. We should focus on the journey and investing in that journey with the highest levels of passion and integrity. We should create as we go along, we should learn, improve and create some more. We should aim to make a difference because every action of ours counts to something and if everyone aimed to make a difference, our place of work, our homes, our country, our planet would be a better place. I believe a good journey results in a good ending.