Motherhood is not a deadend but a turning point to pursue your passions and skills. Prachi Rege speaks to moms who have reinvented their career path
Are you a woman working as a lawyer, journalist, ad professional or banker? Along with this if you are also someone who is planning or has stepped into the crucial role of motherhood, then be assured that you have nothing to lose. Research report by Regus, the flexible workspace provider, confirms that 73 per cent Indian businesses believe that far from returning with an obsolete address book and a rusty memory, working moms bring valuable skills and expertise. Juggling work and family life will always be a daunting task. While the industry is busy figuring how to accomodate working women in the workforce, most of them are using motherhood as a turning point to use their skills and set up their own venture.
Like in the case of Hyderabad-based Sonali Srungaram, who quit her job as an associate partner with Accenture after she returned to India post a 12 year stint in London. "Though there is an option for flexible working hours, it is rarely followed or respected by all teams in the company. I weighed my options and took the call," points out the mother of two.
Srungaram`s second child was born three years ago, around the time when she was close to being made a partner in her company. She confesses it to be the most difficult decision of her life. However, today, she is a happy entrepreneur, running the Cipher preventive Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, a company that is in the business of awareness and detection of chronic diseases. She met her business partner Manika Rawal Jauhari, another mom on sabbatical, when the duo where dropping their children off to playschool.
"Since we were at a similiar stage in life, we connected instantly. Both of us were passionate about healthcare and a number of brainstorming sessions later Cipher was born," say Srungaram, who set up the venture in 2012.
"Staying-at-home is not isolation from professional life, but an ideal time to reboot," says Ruchita Dar Shah, who has had a successful stint as a creative director with agencies like Mudra, RK Swamy BBDO Pvt Ltd and Vyas Giannetti Creative (VGC). The applied arts graduate from Sophia College, Mumbai, became pregnant in 2004 when she was right at the peak of her career. “I don`t regret quitting my job. Motherhood has helped me utilise my skills in a different direction," says Dar, who set up her networking firm in 2009 after having her second baby.
Shah is the chief mommy officer at the First Moms Club, which she started off as a facebook group and is now developed into a website. Besides being a one stop shop for young mothers to connect and participate in online contests, it is also a platform for women who want to revive their career post motherhood. The club invites blogs, conducts workshops and `how I did it` talks with working moms at various venues in the city.
Taking a sabbatical from work and resuming your original job or starting off fresh is easier said than done. "Most working individuals would agree, staying at home (other than a holiday) is tough once you are used to the hustle-bustle and company of colleagues constantly," says Meera Warrier, a first-time mom, who worked in corporate communications with the Leela Group of Hotels. Post the birth of her daugther, Warrier like any other mother was merging her days into nights and time just flew by, until she turned a year old.
"The communications sphere, like any other, is a rapidly evolving. So there was a lot of lost time to catch up on. However, my team and the company were very flexible on that front and gave me ample space and time to get back into the groove," says Warrier, who now works as an independent publicist.
"Since most Indian families follow the nuclear family culture, women rarely have a strong support system for childcare at home," reflects Shah. Most young mothers are not comfortable leaving their children with full time maids. Most believe that it maybe unfair to have a checklist for those who want to come back post their maternity sabbatical. "Smart intelligent women like us need to make a value judgement and take the call on how we want to develop our career after our child is old enough," says Srungaram. Warrier warns, "Superman and supermom are fictional characters. We are human and cannot, possibly, get everything perfect."