My session at Intel on “Career Investments that every woman should make”

A few days ago, I was invited to Intel at talk about “Career Investments that every women at work should make” [PS: The request came out of my article on EconomicTimes]. From what I gathere, they conduct such sessions regularly as a part of their initiatives to enable and equip women to craft out long-term careers. Usually, internal women leaders are invited.

But starting 2016, they decided to invite people from industry. I was excited since I was the first external speaker, and that was an absolute honor.

It was a full house (much to the pleasant suprise of the organizer’s themselves), and very engaging and well recieved session.

My presentation is here.

The response and feedback from the session has been awesome. Some excrepts from the feedback are below:

“This was one of the best sessions I have attended on this topic. I can see what mistakes I am making and what areas I need to work on”

“Very true and loaded with real-life wisdom and experiences. Given me lots of food for thought”

“As a working woman, I know that I don’t invest enough in my personal brand and professional networks. Time for me to take action”

“It was great to listen another Indian woman who is experiencing a lot of similar issues like me. Sometimes just knowing that I am not alone is a great feeling”

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Columnist / Byline In:  Economic Times | Huffingtonpost |  Wipro NewsCred Marketo |  Finextra | Inc42  |  Business2Community | ProBlogger  | Famous Bloggers | TheNextWomen|Nasscom | SheTheTVPeople | PaulWriter |  WomensWeb |  Sheroes PeopleMatters |  YoWoTo | 12Most.com  | ParentousThe Change Blog | Women Inspiring Wednesdays

Blog:  Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [ Top Marketing Blogs in IndiaDirectory of Top Indian Blogs and Most Widely read Indian BloggersDirectory of Best Indian BlogsAlltop]

Twitter:  @nimu9 [Featured among Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014), 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter (2012)]

 Industry Associations / Mentorships: SINE (Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship – An IIT Mumbai initiative) | TLabs | Inc42 | SheroesIndia | BackToTheFront

Interviews and Media Mentions:
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle)
Featured in | 101 inspiring women aka rockstars
Featured in | Passionate Bloggers you should follow
Quoted in “Open letter to women looking for job
Quoted in “The best advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Speaker Sessions, Panel Discussions and Events (Real and Virtual): 
Career Investments that every women at work should make” ; Speaker session at Intel
Navigating careers in large organizations” ; Tweetchat hosted by Wipro
Making your network your net-worth” ; Panel Discussion hosted by BTTF (Back To The Front)
MyDigitalStory” ; Tweetchat hosted by SheThePeopleTV
The Art and Craft of Content” ; Speaker session at Wipro
Importance of Mentorship for women” ; Sheroes Summit

Other events / conferences that I’ve graced : Surge (Feb 2016), IAMAI (Jan 2016), TIE – Women Entrepreneurship (2015), EuroFinance Cash Management Conference (2014), Sheroes Summit(2014), PaulWriter -The Futurist CMO (2013)

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Wiser after 4M’s – An MBA, Marriage, Motherhood and Medical Issues?

First published on WomenInspiringWednesdays

How does anyone summarize more than 3 decades of life experiences to capture the essence, lessons and spirit of all that it entailed?

How does anyone share multi-facets of the 4M madness (an MBA from IIMB, Marriage, Medical issues (of self and in the family) and Motherhood) – many of which are relevant to very many women?

How do anyone summarize the ~15 years of corporate work experiences which encompass diverse aspects of business, process, domain, technology, team-work, customers, partners, travel, culture, leadership, mentor-ship and everything that define your career trajectory and make you what you are?

How does one say all that is to be said, read, understood and feel inspired in one blog post?

Well, here’s an attempt… Read on..

I’m Nischala Murthy Kaushik, and like to describe myself as a working mother, marketer, digital artisan, content crafter and blogger / writer / columnist. The penchant for ‘new’ and ‘novel’ experiences has fueled my life and career taking me across diverse life-stories. Most of these stories had a good dose of action, drama, villainy, emotion, humor and romance – just that the supporting cast changed every time based on the context, but I continued to play my part – which was obviously the lead role! And I still continue to play the lead role. This is my story!

As I crafted this piece, I wondered what story I should share here? One which was simple, powerful and universal to the trajectory of any / every woman’s life and career. Going down memory lane, each of the 4M’s has been a defining moment in my life; and has been a great experience of self-discovery, learning, strength, resilience, growth with its share of highs and lows. I’d love to share some of the key lessons which stayed with me at every point in this journey – with the hope that it compels you to ponder, wonder or meander in your mind or heart!

M1 – MBA from IIMB

I gave myIIM MBA entrance exam with very little preparation, and was sure I’d not get through. But I cleared the written exam, and sailed through the interview process. I also almost didn’t enroll in to IIMB because I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. I had my reasons, or so I thought! Fortunately, my mother influenced my decision, and I did enroll into the MBA course. MBA from IIMB was defining for me because it exposed me to some of the best and brightest brains in India (both in terms of teaching faculty and student interaction) – Not to mention the learning was phenomenal.

What stayed with me?

  • As women, investing in formal (higher) professional education is always a worthwhile investment. If you get any opportunity to enhance your knowledge, skills or professional networks – don’t let it pass. If you are serious about a long term career, a portfolio of diverse formal degrees / qualifications always works in your favor
  • Mother’s always know what’s best for the kids. Listen to your mother with open ears and an open mind – especially after you turn 30.
  • Networks and bonds which you form with people as part of your education / learning journey are usually stronger and tend to stay for life. And these networks usually help you through many a rainy / stormy day – So invest in them, nurture them and treasure them.

M2 – MARRIAGE

Marriage is an important event in any woman’s life. It is defining because the man, themother-in-law and the maid become important influencers in your career / life choices after that!I’m no different. Also in my case, that also involved a move abroad.So finding my feet in a new environment took its time, but with a “can do” mind-set and a willingness to walk the extra-mile, things fell in place.

I was also clear that I would continue to pursue an active career. Fortunately for me, there was a job opportunity abroad which I gladly accepted. In addition, I also enrolled into a local university and earned study credits for subjects of interest, along with a foreign language (German).

What stayed with me?

  • As a woman, it is important to be clear on your personal career objectives and share it up-front before you get into matrimony. If you don’t say it out loud, chances are they’ll never know.
  • Marriage, as with any life relationship involves give and take. You have to be prepared to do both – in your marriage and career. The sooner you accept your reality, acknowledge your circumstances and unique constraints and find creative solutions to keep going, the better off for you are in the long run. The more time you keep looking at closed doors, the longer it will take for you to open new windows and possibilities.
  • As women, it is important to explore ways to expand your knowledge and skills – no matter where you are. This is especially true for many women who have to re-locate to a new city / country after marriage. Once you settle into marriage, explore ways to enhance your knowledge, skills and professional profile. Get a certification, organize an event, learn about a culture, hone your culinary skills – Key is to find ways to stay relevant for today and prepare for what tomorrow can bring your way

M3 – Medical issues (of self and in the family)

I’ve experienced up close and personal going through rough patches with my health, and going through medical crisis / emergency in the family for extended periods of time. Both are extremely trying – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, professionally and socially. Key is to be able to find ways to address current issues at hand, but also look into the future.

What stayed with me?

  • Health is wealth – There is only so far you can go – if health does not favor you or your loved ones. So make health a priority in life – when the going is good.
  • When you have good health, try to make as much wealth – Wealth can buy you (access to) good health – to some extent, and a lot of other things.
  • Life’s too short and unpredictable. So for the people who matter, spend time, say what you have to say and make it count while they’re around.

M4 – Motherhood (Not once, but twice)

Here’s the thing about becoming a mother – You’ll never be fully prepared for it. And no matter who you are / what you do, it will transform your life, thoughts, emotions, priorities, interests, lifestyle, actions, needs, … everything! No life experience can be as intense as that of being a mother, and the journey taught me a lot about myself, people and the world.

But looking back, I started writing during my maternity leave. It wouldn’t be wrong to say while I gave birth to my baby, she gave birth to the writer in me. Simply during those days when I was confined to the 4-walls of the house, I had to find creative ways to keep myself intellectually stimulated and relevant, and blogging gave me an excellent canvas to do it. There’s been no looking back after that.

What stayed with me?

  • Career choices after motherhood are very unique and personal to every woman. So accept your reality, get clarity on what you really want and slowly but steadily find ways to make it happen.
  • Work life balance or Work life integration or work life resonance or work is life or life is work – All mean different things to you and me, especially as women at work. So find your mantra for your context
  • Too many times, the biggest issue for working mothers is around (inflated) expectations and (continuous) judgment. Both are unnecessary – including self-judgment every day and unrealistic expectations every day! Accept that you are not a super-mom, and honestly I don’t even want to be one. I’m okay making reasonable choices and trade-offs – at work, at home and as a mother. As long as things are within boundaries, it’s all good!
  • Once you are a mother, there will be phases when you need to take career breaks / apply the career brake. That is true for most women. In my experience, what really makes a difference are a few things
    1. Being clear on whether you want to work or not
    2. If you want to get back to work, set a timeline for when. Plan the how?
    3. And while you are on a break (for whatever reason), find ways to stay relevant to your subject and connected to your industry / people who matter!
  • As mothers, we tend to be too accepting of everything. While acceptance is good, it can make your too comfortable – which is not good. Key is to push yourself out of the comfort zone by not accepting things.
  • Lastly, remember that focus on your priorities, flexibility in how you can operate and going with the flow are really what takes you to the destination – as a working mother. No short-cuts here!

As I sign off, I hope you find your way through the madness in your life..

 

Online Initiatives for the case and cause of Indian #WomenAtWork

Over the recent past, my conversations with women at work (at different phases / stages of life) has gone as below..

She: Hi.. Good evening

Me: Hello, How are you?

She: So you are a blogger.. Very nice

Me: Thank you

She: What is your blog about?

Me: My blog is called “Nischala’s Space, Thoughts and Expressions” in which I write about topics of professional interest – which revolve around women at work, marketing, social and leadership.

She: OK. Nice. I’ll surely read it. So, apart from your blog are there any online resources which can help me or any woman in her journey at work and life?

Me: Yes, and my answers are in this post. So read on 🙂

Listing them below in alphabetical order

Back To The Front (A Rize @ People Konnect Initiative)

Back To The Front aims to facilitate second careers for women by guiding them to incorporate work back into their lifestyle and reclaim their career. They  provide meaningful job opportunities by way of full time, part time, project based assignments and contractual assignments for women who have decided to get back to work. They also provide various customized programs to guide and coach through the entire process of on boarding to a fulfilling second career.

BizDivas (An Altavis initiative)

Biz Divas provides a platform for the women of our region to come together and raise a common voice for promoting women leadership across all walks of life. We identify invest and bring visibility to extraordinary women in business, corporates and public leadership. [Src: Corporate Website]

P.Inc

P.inc: Women Power@Work is an initiative supported by The Times of India that aims at bringing women who have taken a break from work, back into the workforce. The initiative, through seminars, training workshops and access to employers will provide career resources and a service support system to mid-career professional women enabling them to overcome challenges and return to working life. [Src: Corporate Website]

Sheroes

SHEROES is a woman’s career destination. With full time jobs, flexible jobs, mentorship & entrepreneurship opportunities, it’s the largest community for women

SHEROES welcomes women professional across levels, stages and sectors to pro-actively access the largest OpportunityScape for women. There is a diverse and large range of opportunities to pick from — these include opportunities with women friendly employers, flex friendly formats, mompreneur programs, partnership programs and more. The SHEROES Community gets access to career resources, information and community sharing. SHEROES Mentors engage actively to help women attain career success on their own terms [Src: Corporate website]

SheThePeople

Women across the world are actively joining the workforce, asserting themselves on issues and networking to become a strong force. In India over 60 million women are set to get online. From leaders, game-changers, board members, executives and entrepreneurs, sportswomen and politicians and every woman engaging in her goals, we are changing the conversation about them. We believe we are an active positive part of that change.

Companies and countries perform much better when they include and engage women in their workforce. Women in India, whether in farming communities or city centers, are taking steps toward becoming fully integrated and valued members of society. Many are setting up their own businesses, others are joining organisations that are ‘thinking’ women.

SheThePeople is their platform. A video story telling space that inspires women, strengthens their efforts, exchanges leadership ideas, fosters networking and reinforces their ability to contribute to growth. [Src: Corporate website]

Shenonmics

Shenomics is a success and leadership coaching platform for professional women. We help women build a success toolkit to thrive in their careers and their lives on a foundation of inner mastery. Shenomics offers practical tools, guidance and inspiration to accelerate your professional development by helping you hone the skills needed to shine as professionals and leaders, while supporting the inner work you need to live with purpose and passion. [Src: Corporate website]

WomensWeb

Women’s Web is THE place for the Indian woman who wants to stay engaged with the world, who believes that she has a place in the world, and ideas to offer. We focus on women’s self-development and pursuit of happiness, by offering information on career development, entrepreneurship, managing work and family, successful women, women’s health, social issues and personal finances. Our goal is to help women learn and grow! [Src: Corporate Website]

Now it’s great that there are so many initiatives, but “What’s in it for me as a woman?” might be your next logical question. To help you answer that, I’m drawing a comparative analysis of the offerings / services provided by each of them based on what I’ve read in the public domain

Job Postings / Opportunities Events / Meetups (online / offline) Mentoring Learnings and Inspiration (through content) Leadership Coaching / Training
BackToTheFront Yes Yes Yes Yes

No

BizDivas

No Yes Yes Yes

Yes

P.Inc

Yes Yes No Yes

No

Sheroes

Yes Yes Yes Yes No

SheThePeople

No No No Yes

No

Shenomics No No Yes Yes

Yes

WomensWeb No Yes No Yes

No

POINTS TO NOTE:

  • All the companies provide services beyond what is listed below.
  • Above comparison has been compiled based on my interactions with women at work, and what emerged as important factors
  • If there is any initiative which I have missed, please leave a comment below.

300+ years of women at work | What were her key career enablers?

Today is 8 March 2015. So Happy Women’s Day!

Anyone who reads me knows that women at work is a topic dear to me, and I hope my writings make a difference for the case and cause of women at work. Last year in 2014, I did a survey on women at work, and “women speaking to each other / sharing their stories” emerged as one of the top points on how women can support the case and cause of women at work.

As I looked in my network (real / virtual), I recognized that I knew several amazing women at work who were doing their bit and best to make it work every single day – with their grand dreams, grit, hard work, perseverance, focus and intelligence. So I thought “Why not capture the collective experiences and wisdom from these diverse women at different phases and stages of career and life?

So I connected with each of them and asked “What were the key enablers which made a difference in her life as a woman at work?” . Every single one gladly obliged to share her views and perspectives. So to all you wonderful women who feature below, Thanks for sharing parts and pieces of your life. I’m hoping it will help, enable and equip some woman somewhere in her career path.

Personally doing this exercise has take significant time and effort, but has been rewarding since I recognize that just getting diverse views and perspectives on the same question can be such a delightful and insightful read.

I’ll take-away a few insights beyond what is shared below:

1) For a woman to start and keep her career, the family / environment / ecosystem plays a very important role. So if you are a woman at work, say Thank You today to all those who made it happen. And if have a daughter, recognize the importance of your role and play the part!

2) Enablers are very different for women based on the stage and phase of life (single, married, mother, etc) they are in. So if you are a woman, acknowledge that the key enablers will change significantly based on your phase, stage, choices and context in life

3) In general, women at work are open to speak, willing to share and happy to contribute to the case and cause of women at work. So that is heart-warming, and I’m hoping it will get better from here. So if you are a woman at work, don’t miss any opportunity to share the nuggets and factoids of your career journey. You don’t know whom it can help and how, but makes a difference in the long run

Just one request – read / view on; and spread the piece. One share on Women’s Day for the case and cause of women at work is all I’m asking! Thanks again

Nischala IWD Final 1
Nischala IWD Final 2

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist : Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes 20 Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

“Work defines me, and Motherhood completes me” I write in my 1st Huffington blog post

What do you want to be when you grow up?” was one of the questions I was asked very many times during my childhood. I loved answering the question for one reason. As a growing child, I could change the answer at whim, and it would still be correct! So, my responses took me from being a doctor, to a genetics engineer, to an entrepreneur, to a lawyer, to a sportsperson, to a police officer, to an artist, to a designer, to a cartoonist, to a global best-selling author, to a private detective, to the show business, to a motivational speaker, to the creator of the first human robot for personal/home use, to an alchemist in the quest to find the elixir for all problems of the world.

Today as an adult, I still love this question. Not to answer myself, but to hear answers from children. Any kid I spend time with, I almost always ask him/her “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Irrespective of their age, the question makes a child think, time-travel to the future and then articulate the response. Their answers never cease to amaze me. Children of today are aware of their interests, self-confident and articulate in their communication, and knowledgeable about numerous career options, possibilities and opportunities.

No prizes for guessing that after I became a mother and my baby started talking, I’ve asked this question a zillion times. For several months, the response I received was “I want to be like you!” That answer always made me swell with maternal pride, and a sense of responsibility. It made me cognisant of the fact that I need to be a live example of what I want her to emulate from me, and that inspires me to try to be better today than I was yesterday!

However, for the past several months her response has been different. “I want to go to office and I want to be a mummy” she says. The first time I heard it, I was pleasantly surprised. In hindsight, both the answers are similar. Just that “being like me” now equates to “being a working mother” in her mind, and rightly so, as that is what I am today.

On one hand, I am happy to hear this. After all, like most mothers–I do want my children to be healthy, happy, well-educated, balanced, independent, financially stable and blossom in life to achieve their full potential.

But on the other hand,…. For Full reading, click-over to Huffingtonpost India

Indian Women At Work Survey Results are out!

The Women at work survey results are out. Refer below to the key insights and findings.

But first, Why I did this survey?

All regular readers of my writings know that the topic of Indian women at work is close to my heart.

One, I am a working woman in India, and have been so for more than a decade now.

Two, I see young women around me at various stages and phases of their career journey. While I see passion, hope and commitment in their eyes and dreams in their heart, I also hear so many questions on the How? When? Where? Questions which plagued me in the past, are knocking their door-step today. And there are very limited resources to answer and help them navigate their career trajectories.

Three, I really believe that the time is right to bring to the fore-front conversations around women at the workplace. “If not now, then when?” I wonder.

 

As I look back to connect the dots of my career and life, I realize and recognize that being a working woman / mother in India is not (always) easy, and comes with its share of great, good, bad and ugly. The fact is there are multidimensional issues which are ‘real and complex’. I also understand that no two women have the same context and circumstance, and so their choices and career trajectories are different. There is surely “no one size that fits all”, so what is good for me may simply be irrelevant for you.

But there must be a common view-point. Something which summarizes the general trends. And so the survey. I wanted to get the views and perspectives from people on the topic of “Indian women at work”. So the survey was a pulse-check of the situation at the ground , and a peak into what the real issues are, and what can possibly make a difference for the case and cause of Indian women at work.

Thanks to all those who filled the survey. I truly appreciate the 3 minutes you gave for filling this.

And yes! The BIG ANNOUNCEMENT : A lot of my writings for 2015 around “Indian Women At Work” will be based on the insights of this survey. So hope you enjoy reading me

 

Just 3 requests:

1) Please feel free to share the infographic with anyone who might benefit from a glance. You are also free to embed it in your blog. Refer below to the embed code.

2) If you like my writings and don’t want to miss subsequent posts,  please sign-up via e-mail to get regular updates

3) To get a peak into my WWW (World, Words and Writings), please follow me on Twitter @nimu9

Indian Women At Work Survey

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“Time to use voices and leverage to be trailblazers in women at work conversations” says the US First Lady Michelle Obama, and I agree 200%

Several weeks ago, I came across an article on the White House Summit on Working Families which was held earlier this year (2014). Convened by the US president, Mr. Barack Obama the focus was on how to strengthen workplaces to better support working families, boost businesses’ bottom lines, and ensure America’s global economic competitiveness in the coming decades . According to the web-site, “The White House Summit on Working Families, hosted jointly by the Center for American Progress, the Department of Labor, and the White House Council on Women and Girls, will convene businesses, economists, labor leaders, legislators, advocates, the media, and ordinary citizens for a discussion on issues facing the entire spectrum of working families – from low-wage workers to corporate executives; from young parents to baby boomers caring for their own aging parents.

As I read more about the Summit, the speakers and discussion areas, I came across a video interview by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. If you are a working woman / mother, you should watch it! Her  openness to speak about the ‘real issues’ which plague working mothers, honesty, grace, articulation, style, humor and wit make it a compelling watch.

It was one of those videos which I found myself nodding all along – because I could connect with her observations, reflections, insights and perspectives.

In this post, I am sharing the key messages that resonated with me, and why?

1) Right time to Connect and Converse about topics related to women at the workplace

One of Michelle’s key message across the video is that “It is important for individuals in a position of influence to use their voices, power and leverage to discuss woman at work issues, and make positive changes within their sphere of influence” .

This is probably as relevant as in India as it is in the US. I agree that the time is right. If not now, then when?

Looking back at my professional experiences and my writing / blogging journey, that is probably one of the main reasons why I write about “Women At Work” on my blog. It is my way of leveraging my voice and influence to bring to the fore-front conversations, observations, insights and solutions on this subject. Trust me – as a working mother of two, this takes time and effort from my end, and compels me to de-prioritize several other things in my life to keep my blog regularly updated. But I feel strongly on the subject, and hence I make that effort in the hope that my voice and views can make a positive difference to some women somewhere in the world and at some time in her life.

2) Kids are the most important legacy we will ever leave

Again Michelle’s key message is that as a mother, children are among the top priorities in your life. She says that acknowledging and accepting your reality as a working mother (and all that it entails every single day) can be empowering because you can be open and up-front with your employer / team / workplace environment. This is important as it helps set expectations which holds you in good stead on the long run.

I couldn’t agree more. Children will be among the most important legacy any mother / parents leave, and hence it is important to do the best you can for their growth and development. As a working mother, I know I struggle with getting the priorities right in my head, and then living them every day. But I also know that the days my priorities are crystal clear to me, navigating through the course of the day (both at work and at home) becomes a lot easier.

3) Work Life Balance is fragile

I particularly like the way Michelle Obama mentions that work balance is fragile, and is thrown off with a broken toilet, a sick child, a sick parent, the day a baby-sitter is on holiday, etc.

Again, so very true. The number of variables that can influence the daily life of a working mother is mind-boggling that thinking about it can be truly unnerving.

In India when most working mothers rely significantly on paid domestic help / support stuff for day-to-day home maintenance it is indeed a very fragile thread that one treads on. And not to mention with the variety and rounds of infections doing the rounds, as a working mother I wake up everyday praying and hoping that my kids are healthy and can go to school. Almost all working mothers I know struggle to find the ways to keep that balance intact.

A few years ago, when I resumed work after my maternity leave, I was in conversation with a well-meaning work colleague who asked me about my long term career plans. Honestly, I said that my only goal was to show up to work every day, and give my best and make it count as long as I am there. Really, I couldn’t think beyond this because I really didn’t know if I’d wake up on a sick child, on a baby-sitter calling in sick, or anything else. The reality is that it is impossible to think long term when you are a mother of a small baby. The other fact is that kids grow up and their needs change, so these are passing phases. So if you are a working mother, it is important to hang in there and try to have career continuity if you are keen on a long term career

4) Women at Work issues are real and affect both men / women

This is so true! Women at wok issues affect the lives of men, women, children, workplace and society at large, and hence it is not only a “woman’s issue” really. Time has come to get men into the conversation, and to get them to think, speak and act – to support the women in their lives.

For a lot of men I know, women at work issues are really “women’s issues” – by virtue of their DNA, conditioning, upbringing and life pressures. No, they are not! Simply because that woman can be your daughter(-in-law), sister(-in-law), mother(-in-law), grand-mother, friend. And the decisions, choices and trade-offs made today (by both men and women) affect the life of women at large in the long run.

So the time is right to do what needs to be done.

5) However strong you are, being a working mother can make you vulnerable

Again in all honesty, Michelle confesses that she is a strong woman, but “the minute your kids come to the world, they rip your heart out of your chest. Every child is different, and you don’t know how you are going to feel when they come into the world”.

I think any mother will echo with this sentiment. Again, I speak from personal experience here – There are several moments in the course of every single day when you feel vulnerable as a working mother- flooded with emotions of guilt, self-doubt, concern, anxiety wondering if you are doing the right thing, worrying how things will work out, wondering if your kids will turn out okay. The sooner you learn to accept your “vulnerability”, and find a way to deal with it – The better things get with time.

6) Never take education and opportunities for granted

I couldn’t agree more. I think as a working mother, it is so important to value your education, knowledge, skills, opportunities and support. Never ever take anything for granted.

7) Employers need to do their very best to support the case and cause of women at work

In the start of the video, the discussion is around the fact that “Less than 5%, only 24 CEO’s of US Fortune 500 companies are women” which means there is ample room for making things better. And that holds true for India too.

Another note-worthy point was about how working “part-time” on part time salary is really not a wise choice because you continue to work full-time for a half-time pay.  Again relevant for India too

She sums it up beautifully when she says “It is important to get employers to understand the lives / needs of working mothers. Employers need to understand that as working mothers your kids well-being is so important. If children are not healthy, whole or happy , you are going to carry that worry to work and there will be an impact on work”

Again, I couldn’t agree more. I surely do think that employers / organizations need to do more to extend the required help / flexibility to ensure working mothers have career continuity and success.

These were the messages which stayed with me. What about you? Leave a comment to let me know…

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The Sheroes Delhi Summit 2014 | LITE (Lessons, Insights, Trivia and Experiences) from one day!

In early Nov-2014, I was invited to be part of the Sheroes Delhi Summit 2014. It was indeed a pleasure and honor to be part of an event on a topic close to my heart “Indian women at work”. The venue was full of vibrant, positive “feminine” energy – Because majority of the attendees were women! In this post, I’m sharing the LITE (Lessons, Insights, Trivia and Experiences) from one day.

For those who don’t know, Sheroes is a career destination for women professionals, committed to career success and individual work-life fit. For women SHEROES is a gateway to the finest opportunities, resources and conversations. SHEROES welcomes women professional across levels, stages and sectors to pro-actively access the largest OpportunityScape for women. While Sheroes is by design a “social company” and most of their work is online, they conduct events (called Sheroes Summit) all across India every year.

For an overview of Sheroes and the work they do, view Sairee’s (Founder of Sheroes) Introduction below

As of date, it has been a while since the Sheroes Delhi Summit 2014 has elapsed, and I asked myself what were my key takeaways from the event (I believe what you recall days after you attend an event usually stays with you for a long time). So without much ado, sharing the messages which stayed with me.

sheroes 2014

Thanks Sairee and the team at Sheroes for hosting this event. May there be many more celebrated Sheroes in the years to come. You can only get bigger and grander from here 🙂

For a detailed blog review of the event, click here . For an interesting perspective on Storytelling in business, click here

In addition to the above, a few things stood out for me personally:

1) An opportunity to connect, converse,  share and hear with women from diverse walks of life and in different phases of their career; No matter what she does / is doing – I recognize that every one of them is trying and striving hard to make it all work – given her context / circumstance / culture and the mind-set of the ecosystem she is part of.

Let’s face the reality | Issues exist. Not one, not two – But aplenty. As a woman after a point you’ve got to recognize and accept it. You’ve got to decide what battles you will fight, and what you will let-go off and make peace with your choices. There is no other “practical” way to live your life – especially if you are a working woman / mother. And I think that message came out in all my conversations with women at the event.

2) A forum for networking (formal / informal) –It is a well-known fact that “(Working) women lose out in more than 1 way because they don’t invest enough in networking”. One because many genuinely don’t have the time / opportunities to connect with women beyond their work. Two, because business networking is not something which is a priority for many women.So the Sheroes event was a wonderful platform for networking – to build new networks and nurture existing ones.

It is also well documented that women are more comfortable networking with other women (even if they are meeting them for the first time), and that was very evident by the camaraderie during the day! The good thing for me was that I got to interact with some women whom I’ve known in the virtual world. So it was cool to see the culmination of the online and offline worlds!

3) Launch of the “Launch of the Big Sister Mentoring Program” as an initiative to look at experienced women professionals mentoring young women who are part the workforce. I do believe that mentors play an important role in shaping the career trajectories of women at work, and had written on the need for mentorship for women at work in this post ” Mentors for working women : Essential but do they exist?” So was personally happy to see and be part of this launch.

4) Sairee in her introductory note mentioned that one of the focus for this year’s event theme is to “bring men into the women at work conversation”. I fully agree. It is indeed high time to bring men into the conversation – not just to listen, but to think, speak and most importantly, act!. There is only so much change women can bring about by talking to and among each other.

From what I see, a lot of men don’t want to be part of this conversation because it is compelling them to move away from their comfort zone, and the way they have been conditioned to think and believe.(And no one really wants / likes to go there!). Here’s the other reality | if men don’t become active participants / contributors to the women at work conversation, long term meaningful change is NOT possible. And it was great to see attendance and participation from several men during the event itself – in terms of sharing their personal stories of / from the women in their life. The fact that they have observed the real issues of ‘women at work’ and are willing to acknowledge and share it in a public forum speaks a lot! So there is hope, and hopefully things will only get better from here!

So as I sign off, I will leave you with the videos of the sessions of the day. Do watch, and share!

Deep Karla’s Session : MD, Founder, Makemytrip.com

James Joseph’s Session : Championing Remote Work, Author God’s Own Office

Fireside Chat with Nikhil and Vidhushi Mehra : Power Couple on Marriage, Parenting and Careers

Tavleen Mehendiratta’s Session : Mobility and Sustainability – Trends we need to know

Natasha Badhwar’s Session : Stories from the Community – of entrepreneurship and transitions

And my friend, Charnita Arora on her take-away’s from the Sheroes Summit 2014

3 minutes of your time for the case and cause of Indian women at work

Do you think that Indian women at work issues are spoken about enough? Or rather the right issues are acknowledged enough?

Do you think the Indian women at work is at the cross-roads to manage their personal and professional lives?

Do you have any views, perspectives, opinions on what the real problems are?

Do you think the ‘real conversations’ which make a difference are happening? Are they enough?

Any thoughts on what solutions can make it all better for her – Be it your daughter(-in-law), mother(-in-law), sister(-in-law), friend or any women around you?

Here’s a chance to share your views and perspectives.. All it takes is 3 minutes of your time.

Fill the survey @ http://goo.gl/forms/19slaO7YzS

NOTE: Survey open all through Nov 2014. Please feel free to share in your network

Thanks in advance

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Know a woman (in India) on a career break and looking to resume work? You must read this post…

There are so many Indian women who end up taking a career break. If “What options, possibilities and opportunities exist?” is your question, you’ll find answers in this post..

She is well educated

She was a career woman

She was financially independent

She loved her work

She loved the professional identity

She really enjoyed having an active work life

As she traversed the journey of life..

The inevitable happens

Marriage or Motherhood or Ill-health (of self, spouse, kids, ailing parents / in-laws / relatives) come knocking at her life

And then it happens..

THE inevitable CAREER BREAK

Sometimes it is by choice

Sometimes it is by lack of choice

Sometimes it is the cause and effect of the circumstances

She has no escape

Whether she likes it or not, she has to take that CAREER BREAK

For some it is 3 weeks, for some it is 3 months, and for some it is 3 years, and for some it is 30 years, and for some it is a lifetime!

Here’s the thing that I learned when I interact with so many women who had been / are going through a career break |

Women on Career Break

In this blog, I’m listing down the very many resources which can help (m)any women across India – who are on a career break and are looking to re-enter into active workforce.

I personally believe that many kinds of resources help.

One is surely a list of job postings. Anyone can choose from the available listings based on your skill-set, priorities and terms with which you want to work on.

Beyond that, a lot of planning and mental / emotional preparation goes in for many women to re-integrate into the workplace – Whether it is upgrading of knowledge / resources or a trust-worthy community who shares experiences and perspectives or mentorship to answer questions (however basic they may be!) – They all make a difference

For ease of navigation, I’ve logically grouped these into 3 categories:

CATEGORY 1 : COMMUNITY INITIATIVES

P. Inc – Women Power@Work is an initiative supported by The Times of India that aims at bringing women who have taken a break from work, back into the workforce. The initiative, through seminars, training workshops and access to employers will provide career resources and a service support system to mid-career professional women enabling them to overcome challenges and return to working life. P.inc aims at being a one-stop solution in empowering working women with everything they need to regain their jobs.

ReLauncher – An initiative and a professional returner program for women professionals with the aim of helping them with their non-linear career needs.  They offer two kinds of value added services. The first is enricHER, which helps women professionals enhance their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and master the art of giving interviews.  The second is ‘Freelancer and SelfstartHER’ which helps professionals create online presence and support to establish them as entrepreneurs

Sheroes – SHEROES welcomes women professional across levels, stages and sectors to pro-actively access the largest OpportunityScape for women. There is a diverse and large range of opportunities to pick from — these include opportunities with women friendly employers, flex friendly formats, mompreneur programs, partnership programs and more. The SHEROES Community gets access to career resources, information and community sharing. SHEROES Mentors engage actively to help women attain career success on their own terms

Reboot – Reboot is a Network of and for Women Professionals. It is a platform for Women Professionals and Corporate India, to come together. Reboot, will help you figure that: help re-build your confidence, help you with resumes and interview preparation, in short, be with you through your transition, your journey. Reboot is a network for women professionals, who want to get back into the workforce as well as those who are already there and now want to explore flexible and smart, effective and efficient options of work.

FMC (First Mom’s Club) Rebooted – Stories / Narratives of inspiration for women (mothers) who have re-invented themselves to manage the elusive work-life balance : Managing and Balancing work and motherhood

Womens Web – THE place for the Indian woman who wants to stay engaged with the world, who believes that she has a place in the world outside the home. We focus on women’s self-development and pursuit of happiness, by offering information on  career development, entrepreneurship, managing work and family, successful women, women’s health, social issues and personal finances. Our goal is to help women learn and grow! While the site shares a lot of diverse content, many of the posts speak about ‘real issues’ from ‘real women’ on how to navigate your career path in case of a break

CATEGORY 2 :JOB POSTINGS

Sheroes Job Bulletin

PInc Job Bulletin Board

RelaunchHER Job Board

AVTAR I-WIN (Interim Women Managers) – AVTAR I-WIN is India’s first staffing service, providing Interim Women Professionals for part-time, flexi-time career options with corporates.

Work from Home Options for women – Work from home opportunities for women. An ever growing community of well qualified women, who are as dedicated towards our work assignments, as to our families. Women in the group are experienced and are from almost every domain. Currently 6000 + in number and are still growing.

FMC Job Bazaar – Periodically, FMC conducts a “Job Bazaar” which provides a marketplace ecosystem for women to share their profiles and job postings / requirements.

CATEGORY 3 : ORGANIZATION / CORPORATE INITIATIVES

Vapasi from ThoughtWorks – Aimed at IT women who are on a career break and keen to resume active work, this program spread over four weeks will help women sharpen your programming skills

Micorsoft Women in Tech – Initiative aimed at bringing in more women into the Indian IT industry. Through this program, Microsoft will attract and retain women talent in the industry. Along with partners, Microsoft will train and mentor one million girls and women in the next 12 months.

Tata Group Second Career Internship Programme (SCIP) -“A career transition management programme for women professionals who have taken a break of 6 months or more for any reason, and wish to re-enter the professional space. The programme provides opportunities for such women to take on flexi-hour assignments with various TATA group companies. Tata Group companies provide live business projects requiring approximately 500 hours of engagement spread over 6 months on a flexi time basis. There is no placement guarantee at the end of the project. However, SCIP consultants have the option of exploring full-time employment on mutually acceptable terms with the respective Group Company if the same exists.” The programme offers live business projects with flexible schedules and project-based employment to women who have taken a career break of six months to eight years. Women are taken on as consultants in departments such as HR, marketing, finance, legal, manufacturing, communication, engineering and other corporate domains, for six months. After this, those who are ready for full-time jobs are absorbed.

Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) Career By Choice – is based on the insight that there is a need for a gradual transition as women on a career break to step back into the working world. To ease this transition, HLL designed a comprehensive programme that balances a woman’s personal and professional needs. Career By Choice allows women to structure your work around your life and the other way around!

IBM ‘Bring Her Back Program – Meant to attract back women who have taken a mid-career sabbatical. “Any woman professional with the requisite skill-set can apply, and anyone with, at maximum, three years of personal sabbatical qualifies for the programme. Began in 2011

SAP ‘Stay in Touch – The company ensures that women employees return to work after a sabbatical or maternity leave.

Mahindra Satyam :  Start Over programme – which reaches out to women who have taken a career break.

Axis Bank – India: ‘Re-connect’– offers jobs to former women employees who have left the system in the past 10 years, in select states. The bank now plans to take it national. Began April 2014. To know more, click  here.

General Electric, RESTART at GE John F. Welch Technology Center – Hires female technologists and engineers returning from career break at this largest of GE’s global research centers. Send resume or CV to restart.jfwtc@ge.com

Goldman Sachs Returnship – Programme for women returning after a break. To know more, click here

Google India : gCareer – An opportunity to work with Google for qualified women professionals who have taken a break from active working life for a year or longer. Began in Jaunary 2014. See this article for reference.

CapGemini – As part of the exclusive, women-only campaign, CapGemini is inviting resumes from enthusiastic and talented women—currently on a career break—who are looking to get back to their careers. Click here to know more

Women Scientist Programs – for providing opportunities to women scientists and technologists between the age group of 30-50 years who desire to return to mainstream science and work as bench-level scientists.

While it is heart-warming to see so many initiatives for the cause of the Indian women at the workplace, I believe we still have a long long long way to go ..

NOTE: I have not personally used all of these services, nor do I know the exact current state / status. However, I have read / heard/ know of women who have used some of them. Also, the description for this list is mostly from publicly available information

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Did you find this useful? Please share it with any woman who many benefit from this

Did I miss any specific initiative in this list? Please leave a comment to let me know

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