Do you remember your inspiration? -An Anecdote

Article by- Athira Premarajan, Research and Content Development Associate

I remember exactly how the writer in me was born. It was one of those lousy afternoon sessions at school. But collectively, we looked forward to Communicative English class. The day was oddly special as we knew the results of the monthly evaluation test was on its way. We were a group of kids who innately had hatred towards the subjects of Maths and Science. At least, I wish to believe it that way. Because it was the time when Engineers and Doctors were even growing on trees (no offence)! So, we eagerly looked forward to these subject papers as accomplishing an 80 was a cakewalk, and also, we loved our teacher.

The distribution of papers was followed by the usual grin on everyone’s face. One could capture a group photo as it was always a ‘picture perfect’ moment. After her usual feedback session and advice, my teacher took my paper and started reading it line by line. It was a scary moment until I realized it was for appreciating my writing. As the subject involved mostly creative writing and the likes, it seems I had nailed it perfectly. So, that was the best moment of my life, which lead me to what I am today.

As my teacher, there will always be one person in each of our lives, who might have inspired us in being what we are today. Probably those people won’t even know it but, that particular afternoon made me believe that I can write. It made me intentional of being something I never thought I’d be. Intentionality basically is a result of self-will and perseverance. There will definitely be an inspiring figure for everyone to become what they are. Mine was my teacher. But, had I left that inspiration halfway at the end of that class, I wouldn’t have realized my talent and satiate my passion to write. Intentionality thus, should come from within and act as the catalyst in achieving our ambitions. My inspiration was my teacher and the catalyst was my will.

Being a millennial, my life comes with various perks and challenges. Opportunities being the perk and competitions being the challenge. I am certain that all of us millennial are more or less on the same path when career intentionality comes in the frame. Although similar, the situation one is in can be paradoxically different. It would not be an easy affair for a mother of two to become career intentional one fine day. But, if you have that spark within you, believe that no one or nothing can ever stop you from becoming what you want to be. I held on to my passion despite being engaged with another job. Wanting to have a career in writing, reading and writing had always been my allies. Besides, my intense will to learn the technicalities also landed me in several online courses. Now, these were my attempts in keeping my passion alive. I know that every one of you out there is a proud owner of your passion. But, how often do you nurture it? How much have you considered to turn it into a career or something more? Excuses can be made by anyone. And had the successful women had time for making excuses, never will they have been tagged under the same. So, sort out some ‘me time’ and start today. Spend an hour for building your skills and get used to the market trends before you enter it. Only willingness, or to technically put it, only intentionality will lead you to what you want to be. So, through these borrowed lines I’d like to say, be your own wind keeper.  Seasons change but, keep your passion alive, updated.


Two Stories: Ambition and Choice

Article by: Athira Premarajan, Research and Content Development Associate

Women. A word that carries umpteen meanings and incredible potential. A self-made piece of art that refracts colourful strands in various forms as strength, knowledge, beauty, courage, and whatnot. Framing the capabilities of a woman together itself is a gargantuan task for the tremendousness of it. Rather than opting for a descriptive format, here are stories of two different women, whose lives took a U-turn towards the side of accomplishment.

An ideal figure is the one whom we look forward to. There is an ideal daughter, the ideal teacher, an ideal character, etc. Most of us are taught to learn from someone who has been successful or accomplished something in their lives. Most Indian parents usually asks to look at how a neighbour’s child performs: “Look how Rashi is studying. She always comes first in class and never goes out with those crazy friends of yours every evening. Why can’t you be like her?!” Just a typical parental response. It must not be new to anyone. Have any of these parents wondered what their daughter or son has that Rashi doesn’t? No. There is no proven data as such but mothers are often seen on the judgement bench and measuring her child in comparison with the neighbour’s child. Neha, who was a victim of this torment once lashed back at her mother. For nothing else but to establish her interest in Arts and not Science. Anyone who has gone through the trouble can predict the aftereffects of this. Yes, it was like the end of the world…!

It was a busy morning, and Rashi was never more exhausted. Her kid had lost his pencil box and husband his belt. After the tireless effort – searching and finding, Rashi finally made it to the kitchen for wrapping up the tiffin boxes for both her kid and husband…

One might wonder how sadistic the author is. One story idealizes Rashi and the next thing she is tirelessly working towards the happiness of her new family. We knew from the previous story Rashi’s potential and how the neighbours envied her talent in studying. Hard or not, this is sometimes the reality. Rashi was a brilliant student at school. She never gave a chance to upset her parents with any of the struggles concerning her studies. She battled through to become a software engineer. Soon after into the job, she was married to a banker and had to give up her hard-earned career which her parents wanted for her. Not long was her journey from a corporate building to her in-law’s. Strangely uncomforting, she sailed through anyway.

…Soon, they were out of the house for confronting their daily actions. Rashi, having done with all house chores, sat in front of her laptop eager to check her inbox. A former software engineer turned food vlogger; she was a hit online. She is finally happy with her choice of career and is looking forward to expanding her brand. Her loving husband kindled the path to this, and now she is content with her life and choices.

An ally is what some people miss. If you find yours, call yourself lucky, like Rashi. Or sometimes like in the case of Neha, you need to put your foot down on establishing and going forward with your ambitions. Here, Rashi’s ally was her partner.

…! Neha was grounded for the rest of the week. She was not allowed to go out and play with her friends and all her watercolours, oil pastels were confiscated. Her table, which used to be an artist’s palette turned out to look more like an apothecary table, only with books. But she was a tough little bird, which her mother realized late. She protested, sat hungry, fell sick until she got back her things.

A few years down the lane, she is now a professor at one of the renowned art institutions in the world.

Intention and perseverance work hand-in-hand. If you lack either one of it, you may not reach where you actually want to. Neha was intentional. She knew what she wanted from the beginning and pursued it later in her life. And in the case of Rashi, though a little later, she also landed in a position which she realized at a later point in life.

It is up to us to decide whether these stories are fictional. What we mostly wonder or get mesmerized is for something which we do not have in us. Fortunate or unfortunate, sometimes there are people who are ambitious for us more than ourselves. Without giving a second thought to any of our likes or dislikes, they decide for us what is best. Take the cases of Rashi and Neha. They tried hard to cope up with their parents’ will. Rashi succeeded and made them proud, and Neha rebelled.  As an individual, what we need to understand is that we are brought up in different circumstances, narrowed choices and unknown ambitions. But, when you realize that something is missing and you really want it, pursue it. And if you are a parent who could relate your actions with the instances in the stories, it’s high-time you sat down for a talk with your kids. Sometimes there will not be someone like Rashi’s husband to show one the path. So, who better than a parent or an immediate family member to support and acknowledge the strength of their dear ones and lead them to the path of success? And who better to stand for one’s dream than oneself? A well of potential is hiding beneath all of us – to be an ally, to achieve heights of success. A diamond was also just a stone once. Unveil your worth.


Personal Branding- A brief outlook

What do big names like Zara, Starbucks, Adidas, McDonald’s, and the likes have in common?

These are iconic and global brand names tantalizing the minds and hearts of young and old for a very long time now. How did they do it? The answer is by building a unique brand identity.

Earlier the term “branding” was used only for business and products. But now with the advent of social media and the influencer concept, a brand can also mean an individual. Thus, the term Personal Branding came into light.

In simple words, Personal Branding is the process of creating a valued professional identity of yourself. It is a culmination of an individual’s skills, competencies, communication abilities, and all the other interesting elements of uniqueness that will help a person stand out.

Personal Branding is especially important for women in a world where glass ceilings are being shattered every day. Indra Nooyi, Oprah Winfrey, Ariana Huffington, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw are the names of a few leaders and influencers with admirable Personal Brands. And they are all women.

Why is Personal Branding important for women?

In a professional world of gender stereotypes and leadership gaps, the need to work on a woman’s branding is a topical issue.

Personal Branding has the power to push a woman from a sea of competition to a land of numerous possibilities. Having a Personal Brand will help a woman distinguish herself from her competitors and reflect a stand out personality of both her resume and personal self. Let’s take a look at the importance and tangible benefits of Personal Branding for women:

  • Creating job and business opportunities
  • Accelerating her career growth
  • Marketing to industry leaders, clients, and influencers
  • Establishing a favorable public image
  • Identifying her as a subject matter expert (SME)
  • Building a network of connections

Developing a Personal Brand is a road map of taking your in-built skills and talents from relative obscurity to visible level of expertise. A few tips to just get you started on how to build a powerful Personal Brand:

  • Be your authentic self
  • Build your natural talent and strengths
  • Use social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter

This was just a bird’s eye view on the concept of Personal Branding. Our much sought-after experts at Avtar are conducting a webinar on Personal Branding, it’s importance, strategies to develop, and much more detailed guidance on this topic. Women willing to develop a robust personal brand can look forward to some life-changing takeaways from this session.

Register now: https://lnkd.in/gRwKpy9


Corona or Dalgona?

Article by: Athira Premarajan- Research and Content Development Associate

You know how it works. Fresh today and gone tomorrow. That’s the pace of social media trends. There was a time when a ‘winking beauty’ from Kerala, took over the social space of the entire world. Though it stayed for a little longer than anticipated, it was long forgotten the very next week! Now trending are the frothy Dalgonas. This will forfeit too. So will the Corona.

Rising to the challenge is not new to any human being. We have learned to survive the odds even during the hardest of times. Journeying through the most unprecedented times of the century, we are slowly regaining our world step-by-step. In this process, the role of technology in leading us is huge. It has opened the window of possibilities and opportunities – Learning from home, cooking from home, celebrating from home, invoking from home, working from home, et. al. Among this, the popularity, reach and requirement of ‘remote working’ or ‘work from home’ concept tops the list.

Though it was already in the scene, remote working had not gained limelight until recently. The social stigma that sustained with remote working was long gone within a couple of days since the outbreak. Although, it is sad that a pandemic had to teach us the vast possibilities of the different tools and products made by humankind. Anyway, better late than never! This opportunity has proved the world – both employers and employees, the availability of alternatives. This has made a huge impact in the lives of millions of women – who are trying for a job with flexibility, who has requested for flexible working hours, and for those of who wants to balance familial duties and earn, working from home. Now, just to list out the benefits, how has this window of opportunity given the women workforce a breath of fresh air? Let’s find out!

Time for Dalgonas (*wink*):

Working moms often are seen working tirelessly towards bridging the gap between her kids and her motherly duties. This unexpected vacation has given her round-the-clock chance to bond with her kids, dishing out their favourite snacks and of course, the trending Dalgonas!

Update and Upgrade:

Skill building is an essential aspect of any business. In lieu of the time spent on travelling, working moms can now focus on upgrading skills and knowledge from the vast ocean of courses, webinars and workshops available online.

Multi-tasking and Crisis management at its peak:

Going through sibling crisis is a more complicated task than even the pandemic, a mother would agree. Not saying this would give her a certification but, surely does this innate talent helps in her everyday tasks, especially in her work. Prioritising also falls under this.

Better Control of Finances:

With online services shut, travel expenses hitting zero, and complete home under control, financial matters have never been so much easier. The cognitive capability of women takes a new spin every time while planning the week, accurately listing the requirements, which again benefits them in their work to better plan and process.

In the Comfort of Home:

Productivity is never better when you work from home. Believe it or not, it is proven as well as approved! Nothing better than the comfort of one’s home to concentrate and get creative.

Women are the masters of handling situations. Be it at home or away. In the era where we are proceeding with our baby steps to incorporate AI in every field, our world is not far away in reaching the sci-fi imaginations. Women, nevertheless, we can all agree, are beyond imaginations – their strength, capability, discipline and perseverance, most of which are her innate qualities.

Though the scenarios may differ than what is mentioned above, with the lack of domestic aid and online food services, we sure can find time for doing our favorite hobbies or learning new things. Understand that no one has their day planned accurately. Pull out one hour from those lazy evenings or preferably weekends, to rejoice and explore what you loved doing or what you always wanted to do. Look at the brighter side and make use of this unexpected vacation to procure expected and productive outcomes.


Choices women shouldn’t have to make

Unprecedented times. Unplanned for reality. These are some of the descriptors that may be used to define the state of countries, societies, organisations, families and individuals, today. As individuals, micro-constituents of entities that are strategizing to beat the challenge, how about taking the crisis by it horns, embarking on an introspective spiral and contributing to better ways of living?

This is what we at Avtar Women did and we now have this list of Top five choices women (half of the sky!) shouldn’t have to make:

1. To choose between family and a career

This is a global phenomenon. Women’s workforce participation rate is substantially lesser than men’s across geographies, across societies. The male breadwinner, female care-taker family model results in many women (pursuing careers) taking a break at critical junctures involving care-giving – motherhood or elder care. While this may be a choice many women consciously make, in many cases, the decision is not entirely the woman’s. If organizations are to be cognizant of career enabling needs of women and families more supportive of a woman’s career aspirations, this will be a choice any women will not have to make.

2. To choose educational courses perceived to be lighter and easier to pursue a career on

This is unfortunately a choice that millions of women/girls have had to make. Encouraging girls to take up courses that will lead them on to ‘manageable’ careers (that will ensure quality work-life integration) is common place. Why do you have to pursue an MBA or an engineering is a question many girls get asked. This is a choice; we wish women do not have to make. Ultimately, what one becomes is what one dreams, what one is encouraged to dream! 

3. To take a pay cut as they make successful career comebacks

Gender wage gap is prevalent, across organizations, across sectors. While discerning organizations are working towards ensuring gender wage parity, this becomes more pronounced when women make career comebacks. A 2019 research by Avtar revealed that 69% of women on career breaks in India, anticipate a pay cut when they make a career return. If organizations are to critically look at the talent potential of this talent pool and women on their part proactively plan come-backs (undertake up-skilling interventions and negotiate with potential employers), this choice could be nullified. 

4. To take ownership of three Cs, even as young girls

This is how gendered roles are driven when children are boxed to activities at a very young age. When little girls are told that they have to warm up to the 3 Cs – Cooking, Cleaning and Caring pretty early (because that would benefit them in the future), the choice is many a times sealed. This perpetuates gender stereotypes and the gender skew in care-giving continues. This is definitely a choice young girls shouldn’t have to make.

5.  To be silent victims/spectators of body shaming

Multiple researches have shown that women/girls are more likely to be body shamed than men/boys. Often women choose to not react to seemingly frivolous comments on their appearance and body language, to not ruffle feathers. This leads to power equations in gender thrive, in extreme cases leading to emotional and physical abuse. If women/girls do not really have to make the choice of being a silent bearer, we as a society could go a long way in reducing the rate of crimes against women and children.

So these are our thoughts! What are yours? Add on to the comments below.


6 Must Read Books For Women Getting Started In Their Careers

Must Read books for Career

Whether you are looking for career advice or a piece of friendly suggestions on overcoming a specific challenge or you need a kick to transform yourself completely, a good book can be your friend in need. Books broaden a person’s horizon, helps with written and verbal communication skills and can help you unwind and relax. Whether you are the CEO of a large conglomerate or just want proof that your hard work pays off, some nice titles could inspire you with antidotes and sage wisdom.

Read More » “6 Must Read Books For Women Getting Started In Their Careers”


10 Tips To Negotiate That Pay Rise You Want

10 tips to Negotiate the Pay Rise that You Want

You have sweated it out for the entire year, aced challenging assignments, nailed high-profile deals and felt like a shining star. When it is time to bring all this up at the discussion table for an appropriate reward or compensation hike, you must put your best foot forward. Here are a few ways you can adopt to make the conversation meaningful and make your boss look at the things, your way.

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10 Tips To Take Your Career To The Next Level

Taking your career to next level

Companies across the globe are working with tighter budgets and operating leaner, than before. Pay hikes and promotions in most traditional industries are tough to come by. New themes and business models are emerging today that can impact your career to great magnitudes. You must be aware of the trends and match pace with them, regardless of industry or the functional area you work in. 

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Moving from Dependent to Independent

Changing from Dependent to Independent

Despite being multi-talented, women form a meager 26% of the workforce in India. According to research, India’s women labor force participation rate is one of the lowest in the world. What’s more alarming is that there has been a downward dip in the percentage of women in corporate in recent years, despite the economic growth the nation is making. Many qualified, talented women in India quit their high paying jobs to care for their young kids and family.

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Mother’s Day Series – In Conversation with a Working Mother (Part 3)

Article by: Kanakadurga Ramani, Manager – Consulting Services at Avtar with Dr. Suja.M.K. – Associate.Professor & Chairperson, Department of  Social Work, Amrita  Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore.

1. Please tell us about yourself, your passions and dreams.

I am very passionate about my profession that is Social Work. At 50 my dream is to help people especially women and adolescents come out of their mental barriers and short comings to live their life to the fullest. All they need is a little push.

Read More » “Mother’s Day Series – In Conversation with a Working Mother (Part 3)”