Learning outside of work: Shalini Pillay
Everytime I have taken a break, I come back with more energy. The fear of losing out on one lap has never bothered me
As one moves up the career graph, there are predictable points where you see women dropping off. That time coincides with them moving up the career ladder, getting into managerial and upward roles where the expectations of the job go up significantly; at the same time, from an age perspective, this is the time that typically women are getting married or starting a family. More often than not, the inability to strike a balance between managing higher targets and job expectations vis-à-vis pressures at home is what makes women put their professional aspirations on the back seat.
Since the beginning of my career, 19 years ago, my work has always been an integral part of my life. I just cannot imagine it in any other way.
Our life is like a race, and for me the breaks you take are those pit stops along the way to refuel and make a few adjustments and move on. Every time I have taken a break, I have made use of that time and come back with new energy. The fear of losing out on one lap has never bothered me – in a long career, like in a long race, those 5 or 6 months, do not really matter, at some point it all balances out.
To me, even when I took maternity leave, while my peers might have been a year ahead when I came back, I felt that what I have achieved with motherhood was nothing short from what they had achieved, maybe even more in many ways. Some of what you learn outside of work can be very valuable for your career. I have always seen those breaks as great learning opportunities.
That is where the supportive and flexible organization and ecosystem play a very important role in helping women balance it out. That is critical from the policy, culture and the working environment perspective.