How To Make It Work

TWO EN­TREPRENEURS TELL US HOW THEY MAN­AGE TO BAL­ANCE CA­REER SUC­CESS WITH MOTHER­HOOD.

India Today - - PARENTING - BY MRIDU RAI

DIVYA GUR­WARA,

CEO, Bri­dal Asia

As a work­ing par­ent, women in­evitably end up on a guilt trip. That’s some­thing which is in­grained in our In­dian mind­set. We feel guilty about not spend­ing enough time with or not al­ways be­ing there for our child,” says Gur­wara. “As a re­sult, what­ever lit­tle time we get with the child, we end up in­dulging and spoil­ing them by giv­ing in to their de­mands,” she adds.

Ad­mit­ting that she has found her­self in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, Gur­wara says she was for­tu­nate to have the sup­port of a joint fam­ily. “I feel that dis­ci­plin­ing the child is the big­gest ca­su­alty a work­ing woman faces if she doesn’t have the sup­port of a joint fam­ily. In­ci­den­tally, this In­dian cul­tural set- up has worked won­ders for me,” she says.

Bri­dal Asia, which is now in its 15th year, is Gur­wara’s pet pro­ject. What started as nou­veau con­cept aimed at cap­tur­ing a small piece of the huge In­dian wed­ding mar­ket, Bri­dal Asia has now gone on to be­come one of the big­gest bri­dal ex­po­si­tions in the coun­try. “I started work­ing af­ter mother­hood and it was a very con­scious de­ci­sion,” ex­plains Gur­wara. “I re­alised that I wanted to be men­tally oc­cu­pied with some­thing con­struc­tive. This is when I took the plunge,” she adds.

But or­gan­is­ing an event on such a large scale also meant im­mense per­sonal in­vest­ment in terms of time and en­ergy and Gur­wara says she of­ten asked her chil­dren if they wanted her to quit. “They al­ways said no and this made me more com­fort­able,” she says, adding, “I’ve al­ways been good at keep­ing an act to­gether. Maybe this is why I’ve man­aged both the work and home front quite well.”

GEETA BEC­TOR, Chief Tast­ing Of­fi­cer, Opera Crisps, Crem­ica Group

There’s a yet un­proven but widely ac­cepted be­lief that women are more in­tu­itive than men. For rea­sons un­known women seem to pos­sess an ex­tra­or­di­nary sixth sense. Bec­tor is per­haps, one of the big­gest ad­vo­cate of this be­lief. “Women are absolutely in­dis­pens­able to the work­place. What we may lack in phys­i­cal strength, we more than make up for it with our in­stincts and per­cep­tion,” she as­serts. Ac­cord­ing to Bec­tor, this is ex­actly why women who take ma­ter­nity breaks shouldn’t be ap­pre­hen­sive about get­ting back to work and start­ing from where they left off. “Th­ese days we see more and more women be­ing re­cruited for top job in sec­tors like bank­ing, which ear­lier was chiefly a male do­main. This is be­cause they are good at pre­dict­ing the mar­ket and econ­omy,” she adds.

In­deed, it is this very qual­ity that helped Bec­tor hit upon that elu­sive work- life bal­ance which most women strug­gle to find. As chief tast­ing of­fi­cer, one of Bec­tor’s jobs in­volves fore­see­ing new trends in food be­fore in­tro­duc­ing them to the mar­ket. When she be­came a par­ent she used this fore­sight to think ahead and draw a roadmap for her­self so that she knew ex­actly how long a sab­bat­i­cal she would take from work and how she would bring up her chil­dren. “Of course, it wasn’t per­fect. No one ever achieves that. I’d be stupid if I said that I had a per­fect work­life bal­ance but I may have man­aged to get quite close to it,” she says.

To be a good mother one doesn’t have to be hand­son is what Bec­tor be­lieves. She says that a lot of women get caught up in a so­ci­etal trap where ex­ter­nal sources im­pose a sense of guilt for be­ing ca­reer ori­ented and a lot of women end up giv­ing up their pro­fes­sional lives for mother­hood. “I know it’s not easy to make this de­ci­sion but the more you think about it, the more you get sucked into an abyss. Be­fore you know you’ve reached a point of no re­turn,” she says. She be­lieves that if one wants to get back to work af­ter mother­hood it’s al­ways bet­ter to plan early and not waste too much time weigh­ing the cir­cum­stances.

“As long as you cre­ate a com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment for your chil­dren at home and make time for the im­por­tant oc­ca­sions in their lives, you’ll still be con­sid­ered a good mother,” she ex­plains. “And if you want to be a stay- at- home mom, even that’s okay. At the end of the day, what mat­ters most is what gives you the most sat­is­fac­tion,” she adds.

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