My alarm rings at the usual 5am. I squint my eyes, push myself out of the bed, and hit the road for my morning run!
There’s a chill in the air. As Janelle sings “We are young” to my ear, I smile to myself. My spirits are higher than usual, and why wouldn’t they be! It’s a special day today. This was the day I joined Microsoft 15 years back!
As the lanes blur past, the memories flood in clearly like I am watching them on the Hololens. My fun college days at IIT BHU & XLRI whizz past. The early career @ HCL and Wipro show up on the VR screen.
And then there was the call! It was a chance call from Microsoft, and after a few rounds of interviews, I got the offer. That weekend will always stand out for me! Before the excitement of the new job subdued, my clinical report arrived and I got to know I was pregnant with my first kid! In all openness, I disclosed it to my hiring manager at Microsoft, anxiety displayed all over me. Even today, when I think of what they did and told me, I feel immense gratitude! They hire for the long run and I’ve been running ever since.
In my career, I have run past many milestones. I was a Strategic account manager first and then a sales manager donning regional leadership roles. My favorite was my run as the head of the Microsoft India Education Business. I got to connect with students, educators and policy makers, while imagining and executing the “Classrooms of the future.” It was all challenging, inspiring and exhilarating.
Each of the 5475 days gone by have added drama to my life and every moment was worth it! If it wasn’t the high intensity customer meetings, it was the pressure-cooker-style reviews or the multi-million dollar deals, or sometimes the mega events. And sometimes all of this on the same day! The excitement, inspiration and challenges continues through my current stint as the Director-Sales Excellence, leading sales strategy, business operations & driving transformational initiatives. Incidentally, a lot of my career moves at Microsoft have been fueled because of the platform at Microsoft wherein I could take risks and big bold goals, the exposure that I was given to work in international projects at Redmond and the environment that makes you push yourself to learn more and do more! Job definitions have never mattered to me here and the canvas to paint has been as large as you wanted it to be!
As I now run past a school, it ticks off other memories. About seven years back, I plunged into a social cause close to my heart. My friends and I raised funds to support initiatives towards educating the girl child. To help bring in computer literacy, we set up a Computer Lab in a govt. school in Bangalore and saw how the simple power of Internet has been a window of possibilities for the future for some of the poorest sections of the society. Now we’ve trained more than 1000 children. In another instance, few of us with running being a hobby close to our hearts, decided to leverage this initiative for social betterment. For the last three years, we have been organizing charity runs in our apartment to fund higher education of girls from a government PU school, and currently support 10 girls, including a budding engineer!
Women thrive in chaos, are natural multi-taskers, and embrace teamwork. The forefront of a growing, changing entity is just the place they should be. It is not enough if your job gives you work related challenges each day. It should push you to make something out of yourself, to help you evolve into someone who can cut out her own path.
I’m glad I could push myself, take initiatives and make a difference in-spite of a full-time career. I realize how important it is for everyone to have a job where they are motivated to give their all, but the company lets you keep some so you can pursue your other passions.
I am running uphill now. I feel indebted to my colleagues who ran beside me all these years. Memories of my co-workers who had grown to become family, unstinting support from a lot of my managers who remained invested in my development, the exposure I was given to various environments, and more, run before my eyes. I recall the awards, especially the “Microsoft Inspirational Women’s Award”, that put a sparkle in my eyes on some difficult days.
I’ve never been the one to stop at one thing, both in life and at work. I’m a wife, mom, friend, volunteer, girl education champion, long distance runner, startup mentor and business executive. My career allows me to don multiple roles.
I know, as always, the easier road is just a few steps away. But again, the tough roads make us tougher. I cross my arms and pick up speed. I feel energized by the first crack of sunlight.
Be a strong finisher, they say. As I reach home, I know the run is never finished. The purpose was never to defeat anyone or win anything. It is to go beyond the horizon and do the impossible.
There is no race. Just win.
This post was originally posted on Linkedin