Meet The SHEROES : Sujatha Jain
One of those brilliant jewelry ads on YouTube I watched a couple of days ago set me thinking that apart from jewelry, one big thing a woman really loves is her independence!
I have been possessive, or possibly obsessive about my independence since as far back as I can remember. I gave ‘tuitions’ to kids who were almost my age from the time I was 12 years old. I worked as an office assistant during my undergrad summers to pay for my extra accounting classes. At 18, I did not hesitate to take a big advance (from a student’s mom) to pay my orthodontist for correcting my very bad teeth– all this ‘cos I did not want my parents to shell out a single extra penny for me. All I did to repay the kind lady was making sure that her kids scored top grades, which they did-I was a great teacher after all! And boy, was I confidence personified – I could do anything I wished to – all on my own!
By the time I started my MBA course, my dreams had started to lose a bit of their sheen. I slogged my butt out in B-school aspiring to become just another HR head working out of a cushy corporate office, already aware that I would keep reporting to the CEO of some or the other corporate giant – forever a reportee? We can get to the peak, but cant shatter no glass ceilings HR lady, was the advice to me from well-meaning girlfriends. By now, since you have started to know me a bit – what do you think I did? Nah, nothing as exciting! I went ahead and picked up a secure corporate (read boring) HR job in one of the most successful financial services firms. Life took a sharp right turn (completely pun intended) when I met someone who swept me off at first glance. Love and then marriage happened and I moved to the HR division of yet another big name. It all seemed horribly familiar and sort of deja vu! I was slowly moving step by step to a place I would have never willed myself to be in a thousand years. And then…. I got pregnant – a completely unplanned strategy!
My life as as a corporate worker for 5 years was gone in a poof - like a quick sprinkling of baby powder, yet the heady fragrance remained. Coupled with a burning hunger to do so much more with my life. Here I’d like to quote Sheryl Sandberg (someone I deeply admire) “I have never met a woman, or man, who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all.'” Because no matter what any of us has—and how grateful we are for what we have—no one has it all.” I would say, with all due respect to her, I decided I wanted most of it ? I began working from the safe confines of my own home on my own terms. This, so that I could oversee enthusiastic helpers, who would be catching up on the latest antics in Gautam and Ganga’s life, while my kid was trying to trying to shove some thermocol party balls deep up his nostril. I had to look as hardnosed as is possible (in the deep confines of my study), while my kid tried to coax me out that very instant by banging the door with his head. And somewhere along the way, I managed to not only be an independent recruiter in finance, but also worked part-time as a Radio Jockey for 10 fulfilling years. I can never have enough of those times when I was live on air and playing my favorite songs on 107.1 FM Rainbow as RJ Sue-J! “I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.” Tina Fey
And I believe that I have been a great mom along the way, though there’s no one perfect way to be her – because each situation is unique and each mom has most certainly different children!
Cut to last year:
I was toying with the idea of taking a break from my recruitment enterprise, as I felt I was not growing anymore. On that specific day, I was on course to accomplish an impossible mission of learning to drive after my son turned teenager! As the car purred on my turning on the ignition, I drifted to memories of me beaming at my MBA graduation ceremony, nervously biting my nails on my first day of work, starry eyed the day I fell head over heels in love, pleased-as-punch on the day I got married, over the moon on the day I became a mother, and absolutely ecstatic the day I restarted my journey as an entrepreneur.
I decided that I had to turn Amy Chua to protect this steel coated baby of mine from anything that could spell harm (including reckless auto-wallahs and crater sized Mumbai potholes). I had no choice but to move forward with smooth confidence and learn how to change gears in style, like I had always done.
Apart from changing gears and parallel parking, I learnt a couple of other valuable lessons during this driving course:
1) Age is just a number, and independence is something that only you can truly grant yourself.
2) Since we don’t have a GPS for wherever we are headed out to in life, sometimes remembering where you came from, can help you find where you’re going!
I realized how strong my desire to do things on my own was. Yes, it was time for me to push my foot on the accelerator and take control once again! Thus I decided to give entrepreneurship a second chance, and just look at where I have gotten to today!! I am the Managing Partner of Workbay - a beautiful and safe collaborative space for creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs including women working on their own–just like me. I report to no one, except my investors for the numbers every quarter.
Like me, hope each of you can find your own Workbay someday soon!