Mother’s Day Series – In Conversation with a Working Mother (Part 7)

Article by Kanakadurga Ramani, Manager – Consulting Services at Avtar with Ms. Aparna Sanjay

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

I grew up in many parts of India, a veteran of 12 schools! I am a management grad from IIM Bangalore and an alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Early on in my corporate career, I decided to switch to something more fulfilling and moved to the social sector. I have run the CSR operations for a large Indian tech company, worked in a social enterprise empowering artisans from all over the country, and my last stint was as Executive Director in a philanthropic organization based out of Bangalore. I serve on a non-profit Board. Contributing to making people’s lives better is my passion. I love to read, write, and travel. I am particularly interested in reading history and historical fiction, am an avid blogger, foodie and culture vulture. and consider myself a global citizen of Indian origin.

2.Was your break a conscious decision? What were the obvious fears when you started looking out for openings?

Yes, my break was a conscious decision, after the birth of my second child. I was a stay-at-home mom for 3 years, during which time I studied for my Diploma in International Development from LSE.

The only fear when I started looking out again was whether I would be able to juggle work and home and kids.

3.What kind of support or opposition you experienced when you discussed about your comeback with your family and friends?

There was wholehearted support; however, in India, there is always implicit or explicit bias from others that the mother will take a job that is part-time/work from home/otherwise flexible.

4.Did you have any expectations from the new job?

My expectations were that it should be in a place that allowed me a lot of opportunities to learn something new. I was also very upfront about my expectation that the work hours should be flexible, and I managed to negotiate that I would leave the office by 2 pm every day in order to pick up my daughter (who was 2 years old at the time).

5.How important is flexible working to you? Do you think it is a must for all women getting back to career after a break?

I think it is important for everyone – man or woman! It is definitely a must for women (who are by and large caregivers for their families), but I also strongly feel that unless the social dynamic changes substantially and men begin to shoulder more responsibilities at home, nothing much will change.

6.What was your job preference when you were looking to comeback – Jobs that exactly matched your previous jobs, Jobs that matched your skills or Jobs that gave you flexibility while working?

Jobs that matched my skills, and were flexible. I wanted to do something different than what I had done earlier.

7.How did you prepare yourself for the interview?

Be confident, read up on the organization and sector that you are interviewing for, and have a good sense of where you can contribute.