I Am A Dreamer, And I Like To Venture Into The Unknown
Saily Jagtap might seem like any other corporate woman but when you get to know her, then you would get to know about her versatile career choices and the different roles she wears with ease. She’s an Ex-army officer who is now working as a Chief Learning Officer of MMTC-PAMP, India’s first and only company with LBMA Good Delivery Refinery accredited for Gold and Silver. Not only that, but she’s also a doting mother managing all these roles.
#1. How would you define yourself as a person and tell us a little bit about your childhood or growing years that helped you in becoming what you are today?
As a person, I am a dreamer, and I like to venture into the unknown. I socialize and connect well with people since my role in learning and development demands so, however, I have a natural bent towards Introversion. I tend to direct my energy toward my inner world and get energized by reflecting on my ideas and experiences.
I have learned a lot from my experiences so far, both failure and successes, especially from army life. I strongly believe in possibilities and that there is a solution to every problem. I have learned patience and keeping cool in the toughest of situations, which keeps me going. I also believe in the abundance mindset which means that there is enough for everyone to win. Humility for me is the biggest virtue.
My childhood was spent in a middle-class nuclear family at Pune. I am the youngest of the three siblings and have been independent since the early years, since both my parents were working. I was a self-conscious and shy personality as a kid. I scored average in academics throughout my education journey, however, loved participating in outdoor sports. It was my childhood dream to join the defence forces of India. To pursue the same, I took up NCC in graduation which laid the foundation for my army career. I was also exposed to water sports during NCC and participated in competitive sailing with a couple of Nationals up my sleeve. It was the happiest moment of my life when I got selected to join the Indian Army. I owe it to my parents for their support and trust in me. The training at Officers Training Academy shaped me into a person that I am today. They pushed our limits to unimaginable levels of stamina, will, mental and physical strength to emerge as a person with strong self-belief, camaraderie, and humility.
Living and working with the Indian Army troops in difficult work conditions, was the most memorable time of my career. The greatest bonds that I have made are with my colleagues in the army. I also pursued adventure sports where I continued to sail, did solo paragliding, windsurfing, mountaineering, and SCUBA diving.
#2. What does a Chief Learning Officer do, since it sounds like an exciting position to be in?
A Chief Learning Officer ensures that employees are energized towards their growth, the company’s vision, values, and business goals, through learning. The role of a CLO has evolved from running traditional training programs to becoming a strategic business partner to deliver measurable learning solutions aligned with business goals. Investment in human resources in the form of learning is one of the best ways to retain talent and plays a big role in having happy and engaged employees.
CLOs play a pivotal role in building a strong learning culture, which is pretty much a survival need for organizations and individuals. CLO has a dynamic role to play to be able to understand the diverse business and individual needs and provide appropriate solutions. It is a transition from simply building skills to enabling and empowering people and organizations.
#3. How has been your experience working with MMTC-PAMP?
I have been with MMTC-PAMP for a year and a half now, and it has been incredible so far. The culture of one team, safe workplace, and innovation is a great driver which keeps me motivated. There has been a great learning and exploring opportunities for me as the organization is into transformation and growth phase.
There are stressful and pressure times, highly uncertain ambiguous situations, however, what keeps me going is the strong support provided by my juniors, peers and mainly by the senior leadership including the CEO. It’s fun working here. Developing a learning function is the biggest motivator.
#4. What would you say have been your 3-5 (you can add more if you wish) biggest learnings as a professional so far?
- Learning should never stop
- There is enough for everyone to Win – focus on what I define as success to me, not get into rat-race/ unhealthy competition
- Not to sweat over small things
- Respect and humility
#5. What advise you would give to working mothers who find it difficult to juggle? What are the support systems you feel have to be in place for a working mother to get through a day, absolutely guilt-free?
Juggling is not easy for anyone. It is how one takes it. Moving away from playing victim, seeking support without hesitation, focusing and working on things that are in your control, defining your success without any influence, patting yourself for successes – small or big, not comparing yourself and your situations to anyone else’s, not blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong. Take time to reflect, on what you want and if you are going in that direction. Be happy!
Support systems like flexible working hours and conditions, facilities to get kids at workplace like crèche or daycare, WFH policies, safe and open work environment, gender sensitization, parents networking groups, coaching, mentoring, leadership development opportunities and fair performance reviews. Sensitization of employees towards the larger roles that parents/ mothers play.
#6. You have an impressive portfolio with experience in different fields like defence, retail and so on. What differences and similarities you would say exist in these different fields?
In my experience across defence, developmental sector, retail, education and now manufacturing I have seen different work cultures and different drivers or motivators.
In defence, for example, there is a work culture of discipline, strong camaraderie and operational excellence. The armed forces are driven by an honour code and a core set of values and every officer lives by the honour code which is - The safety, honour, and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare, and comfort of the men you command come next. Your ease, comfort, and safety come last, always and every time. Operational excellence is driven through continuous intense training and practical application.
In the developmental sector, people are highly mission/ cause-driven. The impact created in the society is the motivator. I have come across people from diverse backgrounds like finance, IT, medicine, engineering, infrastructure, who have left their high paying jobs and come together to work towards a common cause. Their energy and passion are contagious.
Retail is a highly competitive, dynamic and customer-driven culture.
The similarity is that strong and people-oriented Leadership plays the most important role in success across all fields.
#7. We came to know that you are an adventure enthusiast, what is the story behind it? Also, can you share with our readers your best adventure escapades so far and how did you exactly manage them with a baby, a high-demanding job and a busy life?
I picked up adventure sports during NCC a got glued to it. It was addictive. Back then, we got trained in competitive sailing in enterprise-class boats with minimal infrastructure and coaching. We got trained in the Mula Mutha river of Pune which is more of a drain than a river. I owe my strong immune system to the multiple dips in the river when our boats capsized.
The first competition that I entered with my partner, was at the NDA sailing club, in the picturesque Peacock Bay. We struggled with our aim to not be the last ones to finish. A few races later, we performed better and were picked by a private sailing club as woman instructors for their sailing summer camps, since they did not have any woman instructors. That’s where we laid our hands on windsurfing too.
This was in the beautiful backwaters of Khadakwasla dam, Pune. In the coming years, I picked the other adventure sports. I was able to continue it post marriage because of the strong support from my partner, he surprised me with registering for a SCUBA diving course at Havelock on our honeymoon. With a heavy heart, he also lends me his Royal Enfield Bullet for my bike rides. My first job after the army was as a Leadership Trainer where I was involved in outdoor experiential learning activities. I have a 6-year-old son now, a full-time corporate job and a busy life to juggle with, which does curtail my involvement in such activities. However, I enjoy this time, and being with my son in itself is no less than an adventure.
Sharing 2 of my best experiences – One was to be a part of 14 women officers to summit Indra Col, the northernmost tip of India in the Siachen Glacier and second was and a five-night sailing expedition in the Indian Ocean with a crew of 6 in yacht Trishna.
#8. Any parting words for our readers?
Each one of us is unique with our perfections and imperfections, knowing oneself is the key.