She Speaks is an original Shenomics’ series of dialogues between leading women from various disciplines on relevant issues pertaining to professional women in India. Disclaimer: All views contained in this article represent the individual’s personal views, and not those of any organization with which they might be affiliated.
PwC surveyed 8,756 female Millennials (women born between 1980-1995) from 75 countries to find out how they feel about the world of work and their career, the results of which showed that they ranked opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait (53%); making her more career confident and ambitious than previous generations. 76% of women from India, Brazil, and Portugal (68%) are the most confident, while their peers in Japan (11%), Kazakhstan (18%) and Germany (19%) are the least confident. Kesha Shah, 23, Technology Associate at Morgan Stanley and Manasa Ramakrishnan, 26, Founder of Curricooler, an education startup, have a candid conversation on what success means to them as millennial women, moderated by Shonali Advani.
- First Women In Open Source, Red Hat, March 2015
- Google Anita Borg Pass It On Award for Fall 2014, December 2014
- Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Asia Pacific 2014, July 2014
- Google Glass Hackathon, Google, January 2014
- Worked at CNN-IBN as a Desk Editor in Noida under Rajdeep Sardesai
- Completed a two year Fellowship at Teach For India teaching in a low-income government school
What does success mean to you?
Kesha Shah: Success to me is a combination of various parameters: good health, a good relationship with my family, freedom, independence, the confidence to express my views, and having a sound work-life balance.
Manasa Ramakrishnan: Success to me is finding my purpose. I wouldn’t say I am already successful, however, I’m pretty much on the path to success. If I have to make a decision and I’ve decided to get to a certain place in my career, that is success. How I get there and the means are the next steps. For me, it’s also about meeting small goals on a daily basis and never getting my mind off the big picture. Success comes as a group effort; I can’t be successful on my own.
Kesha, you’re still 23-24 years, has your definition of success changed over the years?
Kesha: Well, the broad definition has not, but small parts of success have. Initially my family was conservative. My family’s ideology was that a girl should study, and have enough knowledge to be able to help herself in a time of crisis. Working and having a career is not that important. To counteract that was a major breakthrough for me in my family given the mindset of my grandparents and societal pressure.
How different is your definition of success compared to other working women around you?
Manasa: My mom and my best friend (who is my age) are both working women. For my friend, success is earning the right kind of money and maintaining a lifestyle. Her idea has changed so much over the years that now it’s about the 9-5 job, earning, saving and spending it on her family. My mother, on the other hand, as much as she encourages me to follow my heart and jump out of my comfort zone, is more conservative. She has her own savings for the future, and at the same time having a well-balanced family is important to her. She’s still surprised I’ve not had a baby or even thinking about it. They are both completely okay with monotony. Whereas according to me that’s the end of success: if I get used to something so much that I don’t wish to grow anymore.
Kesha: The earlier generation was more focused on saving for the future, and this generation lives in the present. When I ask my parents for a vacation, they say finish your studies first, when we retire then, we will travel. That thinking is changing from generation to generation. My brother and I find any opportunity to go somewhere and spend quality time with friends or colleagues. It broadens our mind and thinking. While our parents keep telling us to save.
Are you planning to stick to your chosen career?
Kesha: I’ll stay as long as I feel like I’m being challenged everyday and I’m learning new tasks. If it starts to feel monotonous, I’ll look for new opportunities. My next step will be in Artificial Intelligence.
WHERE MONEY MATTERS FOR MILLENNIALS
- Completed her wishlist with her first few pay cheques including a MacBook
- Spent on CFA Level 1 examination
- Joined the gymnasium
- Invested in Curricooler
- Paid back her college education loan
- Wants to take her first international vacation with her husband soon
Do you see a gender gap in your industry?
Kesha: Undoubtedly, and it’s more at the workplace. Currently in my team, I’m the only woman among 13 members. This is a terrible ratio, compared to the University I went to where we had 60 women among 200.
BIGGEST REASON TO LEAVE HER CHOSEN CAREER
- I’ll stop being an entrepreneur if it takes a financial toll on me
- Maybe marriage or kids: but I’ll only leave it for some time and then come back or start something of my own
How are your career aspirations different from your male counterparts?
Kesha: I think there is no difference in how I see my aspirations as compared to men. I believe in equality, so I’m looking for a male counterpart who accepts me with a career and is not looking for someone who primarily takes care of household chores. Equality in the day-to-day jobs is important.
Would you take a break to start a family?
Kesha: Yes, if I promise to come back to my career, or start my own venture. I won’t spend my time chit chatting with neighbors and gossiping.
Manasa: I’m very pro-adoption; if I have a baby, I would prefer to adopt. We plan on pushing this to a stage where we can handle work and a baby together as I won’t have the luxury of maternity leave being an entrepreneur. I do think it will add a positive streak to things, and I will be happier.
About the Authors
Bhavna Toor is the Founder and CEO of Shenomics, a Mindful Leadership platform for aspiring women. She helps women realize their highest professional aspirations, and believes in daring greatly, leading boldly and living mindfully.
Shonali Advani is a trained journalist, having worked previously with leading publications such as the Economic Times and the Entrepreneur magazine. She is now a freelance writer and startup consultant. When not working, she is dreaming up her next travel destination.