There are definitely many road blocks in a woman’s professional journey. The most impor¬tant is work life balance. Are women more burdened by family responsibilities than men? Can women put in sustained hard work and long hours? The work place treats men and women equally. Women have a high sense of self worth and professional ambition to match. Yet most women are unable or unwilling to travel extensively, relocate, work long hours, network, dedicate time for pro¬fessional development, and look at long term. Career does not rank first in their priority, but family. In a discussion with Prama Bajaj, Country Marketing Manager – Consumer Business, India & SAARC, Symantec Corporation reveals some interesting facts.
Are you happy with the contribution of women in the IT industry, where do you find them standing?
Prama: On that front there is a lot to cheer. Considering the distance we have travelled along the social spectrum from an Indian context. Considering the traditionally perceived role of a woman in our society, I think we have definitely made progress – from a time when the pre conceived role of a woman was that of a home maker to now where she is being recognized and even encouraged to discover her talent and pursue a career. But we still have a long way to go and this evolution has to be across all regions. As for their standing, there are several examples of outstanding successes in India and globally too but I feel somewhere along the way most women try to go slow on their careers to ensure their family requirements are addressed. The woman is still required to play a dual role – of managing the family and her career, and this is a balancing act.
How do you see your ‘role sets’ evolving in the IT world?
Prama: The IT ecosystem in itself is very dynamic and change is a given. There are two things at play – one is the changing business environment and the other is my marketing role and responsibility. There is a difference between B2B and B2C marketing and today you need to be able to leverage both effectively. The number of options available are huge – the focus is on digital marketing – social media, online with e-commerce, mobile. Overlying all this is the focus on business relationships and forging enduring engagements, knowledge transfer to partners/ customers/ influencers.
How can a woman execute challenging tasks and bring in desired business results in the corporate world?
Prama: The key to success would be to understand the market, our space and the evolving customer to offer a solution that is compelling and better than what the competition offers. Today, Effective Marketing requires integrated marketing approach including ATL & BTL activities, Channel Marketing, Social & Digital Marketing & PR. This must be followed by sound planning and strategy with inputs from all stakeholders reflecting a collaborative approach. The entire exercise has to be holistic and comprehensive to ensure we achieve our desired business objectives.
Do you think a woman in a decision-making position can understand corporate issues more sensitively?
Prama: Women are compassionate and understanding and they bring core values such as team building, astute mentoring and commitment to delivery to the work management space. I feel women are more process driven and do not compromise on the correctness of the methodology. We are multi-dimensional in our thought process and definitely creative. We empathise and take a more holistic approach to issues and look at a broader picture – overall results as against only numbers for example. More about, how we get things done rather than just getting it done, a quality that’s critical to business success today.
They say, running a household is more difficult than running a corporation. Being a woman, all your management principles come under the household umbrella. What challenges do you face in corporate business?
Prama: Both are different and yet similar environments with their own unique set of challenges. And in both cases you need to have insight and patience in managing situation/s. In both cases, you need to convince and hold on to what you believe in while giving in a bit to ensure the cause is not lost. Business is a bit different in the sense that the stakes are a lot different. Competition is acute and there isn’t a later or tomorrow always. But the basic conditioning, management and values you would need as an individual are the same – a keen sense of understanding, listening, patience, multi-tasking, mentoring and the ability to stand in the other person’s shoes before coming up with a solution.
Being a woman, how do you balance between your family, relationships, children and work?
Prama: This task of balancing is always work in progress. Every successful career owes a lot to the support of parents, husband & children and it is the same in my case. My family understands the dynamics of my high pressure job and is very understanding. A natural reciprocation to family requirements is needed and accordingly I have calibrated my life. During the formative years of my son, I opted for slow down by working as a freelancer and also took a short sabbatical when my father was terminally ill. I think while pursuing careers both men and woman reach a stage where they have to switch to “quality time mode” and this has to be done to achieve that balance.
What are your future plans?
Prama: Reaching pinnacle of success in my career enhancing my skills and learning & contribution to the success of my organization in the Corporate World. Grow, lead & mentor other aspiring marketing professionals