Key Facets Every Aspiring Woman Business Leader Must Know
By: Madhumitha B, Director, Gen
Madhumitha possesses close to a two-decades-long career during which she has successfully handled key roles across an array of companies such as Satyam Computer Services, Samsung India, HCL Tech, Juniper Networks, Forcepoint, and Cisco, before joining Gen in 2020.
In a recent conversation with Women Entrepreneur India Magazine, Madhumitha shared her views on various aspects of leadership, especially from a woman’s point of view. Below are the excerpts from the exclusive interview.
Share your thoughts on the importance of empowering women and encouraging them to take up leadership positions.
Being passionate, ambitious, and clear in what one wants to pursue in their career will help immensely during challenging times. It is always good to look at the positives in any kind of situation rather than limitations during such crucial times. Being a woman, I strongly feel that the additional responsibilities of taking care of the family should not be considered as a limitation in pursuing one’s career. Also, women should never end their careers due to their maternity and would suggest they consider taking a sabbatical and then resume their careers once things can be managed. When faced with a dilemma whether to continue working or quit their careers to take care of the family, women must discuss with their family members, make them understand the importance of a career, and make alternative arrangements to take care of kids/elderly at home. It should never be either career or family; both should go hand-in-hand.
I have always been astonished by women’s capabilities and the kind of unique perspectives that they can bring to the table while working both at home and in the office. Identifying the talent, nurturing them, and encouraging them in the right manner towards taking up leadership positions will go a long way towards empowering women. Also, getting the right kind of mentorship and support in their mid-career stage will help women immensely to get into leadership roles. On the other hand, they can also carve out their path by taking up entrepreneurship, which is equally challenging.
How can women overcome societal stereotypes that might limit their professional growth and potential?
Girls must be educated about this aspect right from their school days. Parents and educators should both ensure to instill them with the confidence, and right attitude and encourage them to pursue their careers. Also, emphasizing the importance of being independent and familiarizing them with the existing opportunities that they can pursue as a career will give them a head start. Additionally, setting clear expectations and openly expressing their opinions in pursuing their career ambition before taking up crucial life decisions will help them have a fruitful career. Furthermore, one needs to continuously improve their technical and leadership capabilities to climb up the ladder and take up larger roles that require handling a wide spectrum of responsibilities.
Tell us about a few effective ways of nurturing leadership qualities among team members, regardless of their gender.
I am an ardent believer of the principle – ‘Lead by Example’, wherein the leaders must walk the talk and set the path for their team members to get inspired and follow in their footsteps. Having an open culture helps in building a healthy work environment, which is key for any team to sustain for a longer period and be in a healthy position to face any kind of challenge. Empathy and respect towards all go a long way in building strong relationships with team members. Also, I try to provide equal opportunities for every member of my team in all aspects, and this has enabled me to create a healthy environment where every individual wants to bring the best version of themselves rather than competing. Lastly, I urge my team members to be passionate and always remain positive, which has helped us immensely in successfully solving challenges together that we have faced.
Explain how women can make the most out of networking and professional development opportunities to enhance their leadership capabilities.
Networking is a primary requisite to start collaborating with industry peers and getting to know their ways of operating a business. Additionally, it also opens up new opportunities in terms of partnership, collaboration, and many other joint ventures. Networking also enables industry leaders to share their insights on what needs to be done within their team to keep all employees motivated to work to their maximum potential. Networking with fellow industry leaders builds a sense of a deeper understanding of the market dynamics and enables business leaders to collectively brainstorm if faced with any large-scale challenges within the market.
In your opinion, what role does mentorship play in empowering women to take up leadership roles?
While most business leaders have clarity of what their future objectives are and how they can achieve them, many individuals still face difficulties in figuring out what they want to do, how they can reach their goals efficiently, etc. This is where mentorship takes up a crucial role in providing career-shaping suggestions by providing valuable insights either from their own lives or taking an example from a similar background, asking them to explore their interests and figure out what suits them best and how to get there Although handling everything single-handedly is an exceptional quality for any individual, there are many chances where you might be faced with a major hurdle that might stop you from advancing further. In such cases where your ideas/strategies don’t succeed, mentorship brings in diverse perspectives and enables the individual to successfully overcome those hindrances in the most optimized way possible.