A little note I wrote for the BORN Women’s forum for Women’s Day week
‘Every day at work should be approached like a Twenty20 match. It’s not what you did the day before or what you will do tomorrow, it is today’s performance that counts.‘ This wonderful advice from the HR Head Mr Nathan on my first day at BORN has stayed with me. It is profound and down to earth wisdom which reflects the work ethos of this agency that I am proud and privileged to be associated with for the past six years.
Working in BORN is like studying at Oxford University, where you are surrounded by some of the brightest and best minds in the field. Where one is inspired by leaders like Dilip, Prakash, Sridhar and Hema. Where excellence is not an ideal to be strived for but the norm and kaizen is a way of life. Where professionalism thrives with empathy and respect for the individual. Every project that I have managed or worked with has been a learning experience. It continues to be a fulfilling journey, one which makes it a pleasure to come to work every day.
‘Keep the different areas of your life in tight compartments,’ was another piece of advice I received as a schoolgirl from my aunt Lalitha Kameswaran who was one of my heroes with several firsts to her name including the first Indian woman to get a doctorate in Pharmacology from the United Kingdom, the first woman dean of Madras Medical College, the first woman director of medical education and the first vice-chancellor of Dr MGR Medical University. As I started working and writing professionally, I realised that Aunt Lalitha’s advice on compartmentalisation was only the first step. Success is a measure of how the different aspects of your life complement each other. As Dr Clare Morgan – Director, Master of Studies in Creative Writing at Oxford University and my mentor in postmodernism once told me, one of the parameters of a writer’s success is about finding the sweet spot where your day job and writing energise each other. It is all about the journey.
Your journeys, both personal and professional are something that YOU own. You determine the pace, milestones, plans, paths and goals (of course, in alignment with your work projects) and these need not correspond to templates, norms, or anyone’s expectations other than your own.
I wrote in my first novel The Reengineers, “What are your plans for the future? What are the goals that you want to achieve at the end of five years, three years, one year, six months, six weeks, next week, tomorrow or the end of your life? If you don’t have a plan, make it now. It is never too early or too late to make a projection of your future the way you want it to be, but it is important that you do it. As this picture zooms into focus inside your mind, your thoughts and actions will gradually start to fall into place like pieces of a jigsaw.
It’s fine if you want to change the picture as you go along. You may have seen yourself as vice president of a company in ten years but five years later, you may discover that you want to start your own business or study the ancient Pali language to read the Jataka tales in the original, or write a novel in verse, or travel to the Arctic, or draw inspirational cartoons, or grow organic fruit or just stay at home and watch your children grow. Go ahead and touch up the picture. It is your life to colour and shape as you wish.”
My lovely fellow colleagues, I wish that you score countless centuries in the Twenty20 matches at work, and all your journeys are everything that you aspire them to be.