People@Work

Be intentional in your career: Saundarya Rajesh

Annapurani V | Updated on December 19, 2019 Published on December 19, 2019

Women need to develop skills concurrent with their stage of career, says the Founder-President of Avtar

Over the last decade, there has been a shift in the way women view careers. This has necessitated a change in the way organisations create roles for women. From her vantage point as Founder-President of Avtar, a platform that provides opportunities for women returning to work from a break, Saundarya Rajesh has unique insights. Here’s what she shares:

Women’s expectations from jobs today

The way women are now looking at jobs has changed, says Rajesh. Women have become more clear about the kind of roles they want to play in the workplace. Women, today, want to be at the centre of action. Therefore the kind of jobs they apply for, the kind of jobs they want to pursue, is no different from what men pursue. The gender distinction between jobs for women and men has gone away, she asserts.

Career breaks and returning to work full-time

48 per cent of all Indian women under the age of 30 take a break in their careers at least once. Of that group, only 18 per cent are able to make a re-entry into the workplace, says Rajesh.

If you look at her mindset, when she is looking to make a re-entry, she is unsure. She has taken a break so doesn’t know if her skills are on par with what is expected in the workplace, she doesn’t know if the workplace modes have changed, if things are being done differently today, and she doesn’t know if she's going to be paid the kind of money that she thinks she deserves.

These things don’t really help her make a powerful first impression when she goes for an interview, points out Rajesh.

How organisations can help

The kind of enablers that returning women professionals seek are very different from what someone with an unbroken career path would want, says Rajesh. A returning woman professional would want flexibility to a larger extent, a lot of mentoring and hand-holding. She would want someone to help her up her skills and also give her a sense of confidence. “I believe organisations, inclusive organisations especially, should be very open to the fact that not everyone has the same kind of career trajectory,” says Rajesh.

Rising to the top

“If we want women up there in the hierarchy, we want them to do very well, we want them to scale those ranks and reach that corner office, then the one simple mantra that every woman should follow is to be intentional in her career,” says Rajesh.

This means that she has to develop all those skills that are concurrent with her stage of career. She will have to learn networking and negotiation and problem-solving at one level, leadership and work-life integration and emotional intelligence at another, and mentoring and influencing at yet another level.

“So if a woman, especially the Indian woman professional, were to do this, I am certain she will scale the heights of power,” Rajesh says.

For full video of interview, log on to https://tinyurl.com/womenatwork2

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Published on December 19, 2019
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