Every fresh college graduate knows how difficult it is to secure a good job. A few months of unsuccessful job hunting and your status changes from ‘Graduated’ to ‘Unemployed.' But a lot more difficult is to find work after a sabbatical. And even if one manages to find a job, getting into the groove of a work environment is something a lot of people find very challenging. It may be a little difficult but it is definitely not impossible. 3 women share their success stories of their journey to #TakeCharge after a sabbatical.
Nimmi Manwani, 55, Mumbai
When I had freshly graduated in Arts, I was very keen to use my education to work - but at the time it was frowned upon for a married woman to work where I come from. I’d have needed the permission of my inlaws and husband if I wanted to take up a job. Needless to say, after marriage, I was expected to be a homemaker. And I was, for 25 years.
On my 50th birthday, our family realized that our fashion boutique located in the heart of Mumbai's shopping destination - Lokhandwala is a dead investment. The men in our family had been managing it for 20 years, and it had been making losses. It never struck us to change anything about it because who else in our family would work to change that? My daughters weren’t interested in the family business. Here’s when my husband pushed me to come to the shop and help bring in a change. At the time, I was very miffed at him for pulling me out of my comfort zone. Who starts working at the age of 51? Who’d take care of my house that I’ve spent most my adult life, building?
4 years ago I took over the boutique. I’ve never worked so I had no confidence in my decision-making abilities. But I just listened to my gut and led my staff to make decor changes. I changed the archaic Jaipuri collection in our store to go to every designer and plead them to let me house their designs at my store. Nobody trusted me to sell their designs. Nobody wanted to give a loss-making shop their designs. So I researched and found 3 amateur designers who would be happy for the exposure my store would give. And since then, there’s been no looking back for me. I didn’t know I had this ambition within me. Every day, I’m sitting at my boutique till 11 PM in the night.
I haven’t taken a single day off in 4 years. I have upped the profits of my store by 300%.
My daughters are amazed at this energy in me, and keep telling me that I have no work-life balance. But I’ve spent 50 years of my life at home. And now I’m making up for the lost time. It’s an amazing feeling to be a breadwinner for your family. Obviously, the success has earned me a lot of adulation and respect from my friends, my husband, and my children.
Funnily, I worked equally hard at my home for 25 years too, but it didn’t qualify me for the respect that a ‘career’ brings you.
Priya Colaco, 41, Mumbai
I worked in New Zealand as a Program Administrator before we moved back to India in 2005. Back home I worked with a freighter airline called Cargoitalia handling Customer Service for India for about 3 years when I found out we were expecting our first baby. Being a mom was the most amazing experience of my life so when I looked at going back to work 3 years after Ayesha was born I knew I wanted something that would allow me to be a mum to my heart's content and do justice to my little girl while also chasing my dreams! Sounds impossible? With the God of solutions, nothing is!! So I prayed and waited! I had offers coming in that didn't quite fit the bill and I was worried that if I let them go I would end up with nothing but still I prayed and waited!!
Then one day a friend introduced me to a dance class in the neighborhood for my 3-year-old. Ayesha was already quite the booty shaker, of course, she took to it like a duck to water!
A few months down the line the company (Rhythmus HappyFeet) decided to introduce Zumba for the mommies as they dropped their kids off to dance class. I was one of the first to sign up as I was already quite the fitness nut. Swara Patel, Head Honcho at RHF pointed at me after class and said 'You're a dancer' and I smiled thinking yeah this is something I could do! A month later she called and asked me to start training because they would like to have me work with the team. I said yes!
At age 36 I became a certified Zumba instructor!
A year later I felt we had enough of a fan following to start a full-fledged Fitness Division called RHF Fitness which I head. We have a complete fitness solution for our clients right from Zumba to Mixed Martial Arts to Strength Training along with a nutritionist on board. I have an amazing team of certified trainers and a loyal clientele. I organize my work around my mommy time and I just couldn't be happier!
Mamta Awasthi, 49, Kanpur
I was working as a Teacher and counselor with different schools and running my own institute. I took a break because my kids were small and there was no help. I had to come back from work and cook for 7-8 people and take care of everything without any support or help at all. After a long sabbatical of 15 years, I went back to managing a Honda Dealership and am also pursuing a distant learning counseling course from UCLA again to update my knowledge.
Now with my kids grown, it was simple to come back to work but I was changing my field of work. That was what made this challenging and took a little time. However, my brothers were a constant support, morally and helped me get back. It was a highlight for me when our showroom became the best in services in the Central India and people recognized me, interacted with me professionally. I missed that at home. My aim is to make it the best in India and I will do my best to achieve it."
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