Starting Her Career After Becoming A Mother Of Two, Nandita Gurjar Is Proof That Confidence Trumps The Odds
- IWB Post
- September 13, 2018
Either ambition or family – that’s the choice a woman faces in our society. Even though the scenario has improved and women are vying for their equal right to have a career like their male counterparts, when we analyze the top spots in the corporate world we’ll find only a few women. Some bow out due to societal pressure, some choose their family over their growing career. But there are few who prove that, amazingly, both can be managed and one such individual is Nandita Gurjar, Infosys’ former Group HR head.
Recently, she spoke to RJ Kavya of FM Rainbow 101.03, AIR Bengaluru, on the first episode of IronLady Speaks, a show which gives lessons in leadership and life for the working Indian women.
Nandita started her career after she had her second child and ended up being one of the highest paid executives at Infosys in the 2012-13 fiscal.
“The difference was that I never gave up on my vision or my dream of wanting to work. Did I know where I was going to work, what I was going to do, how I was going to grow in my career? Absolutely not! I was just looking for an opportunity to get out. Computers were just in, and I’m talking about 1995, or even earlier 1987, where computers were just coming in. And I said, let me go and do a two-year diploma in information technology from NIIT,” she recollected.
“I did that and I applied for a job at Wipro. Unfortunately for them, I passed their technical test! And they said, ‘how come you passed the test when you’re not an engineer?’ And I said, ‘well I studied and that’s all it takes’. So, I joined them as a consultant, and I did not get employee-ship since I was not an engineer. I worked with them as a consultant for nine months, and then they confirmed me. That’s how my career started as a software programmer without an engineering degree,” she added.
For Nandita, the one that guided her throughout her career was her principle to stick to her commitments.
“Your word has to mean something. You can’t be just promising things and not delivering on it because you lose credibility, you lose authenticity, and you don’t stand a chance in any job or career you take. And simple things. If, for example, you say you’re going to be on time, you have to be on time. I have not understood people’s disregard for other people’s time. You keep ten people waiting, that is ten people into ten minutes of time. So, it’s a lot of time. I think discipline – of both yourself and expecting the same from other people – has to be a part of your value system,” she said.
And even though her priority is to give full commitment to the tasks at hand, she also believes that making work your life is not the way to go. “There’s so much more to life. It can’t be that that’s why I exist. It can define a portion of your life, but it cannot define who you are because at some point, you will be leaving your job and then, what do you become? So, it’s important to say, how am I spending my life? How am I spending my week? And make time for very different things to do,” she said.
In her career, Nandita has seen how women, even when they have an opportunity, hesitate to stand up and grab it because of the social conditioning that teaches them how ‘weak’ they are.
“When I used to do the appraisals of the people who were reporting to me, I found the difference between the men and the women. The women would come in… and change some of the work they did, never overplayed their strengths. Whereas the men would come in confident, talk about things which they could not achieve, would give 100 excuses, and at the end of it, they felt they were winners,” said Nandita
“Whereas women were apologetic,” Nandita added. “They only focused on what they did not do and not on what they did. So, I used to always tell them that, ‘why are you only looking at what you didn’t do and focus on what you did which is as important as what you didn’t?’ Or at least get a balanced view of what you have done and what you haven’t.”
And for a woman to attain that level of confidence, it’s her family that needs to be her support system. “First and foremost, the husband, your larger support. It’s very important that you get him into looking after children, their homework, managing the kitchen, the shopping, everything,” she said.
“Because if you don’t, and you start becoming a superwoman, then you fail at both the jobs. You have to allow them space and create a support system. Family in India, – we are blessed with that. Moms and moms-in-law. You have to accept that you need people to make this happen.”