‘When I had my first daughter, I was at home for a couple of months with her. Though I did know I would be coming back to work, but just prior to joining back, I just couldn’t imagine how am I going to do it. I was so absorbed with the kid and your hands are really full’
By: Jayata Sharma
The soft-spoken strong-headed Zahabiya comes across as an easy person to converse with. In this interview, we explore more on the ideologies and insights that makes this woman leader who she is.
What kind of advantages or disadvantages does women have in a business environment?
I think both genders bring different insights in the real world, be it business, home or anywhere. These insights bring out a better solution to whatever you are trying to achieve. Both men and women are equally important to a business in particular, because there are different things that women can contribute intuitively, which men can’t and vice versa.
What challenges have you faced in your professional life?
Challenges will present whenever you take up new things, and it is important to learn things quickly. Especially in the healthcare field, which is very technical and you have to communicate a lot with doctors and have those conversations effectively.
Plus, usually when you take up a new role, people kind of watch you closely for a couple of years. However, if they see the effort irrespective of the outcome, that’s all that matters.
You have to put in more than 100% to be really able to show that you are willing to learn and only then will they be willing to give you a chance. Also, the value creation you are doing for the organisation has to be rapid.
At the end of the day, you do have to throw yourself up fully to learn the nuances of the business, as insights only come from deep understanding and you should be willing to do that.
How can organisations enable a more women-friendly atmosphere?
Unfortunately, the time when you plan to have kids coincides with the time when you should be focusing highly on your career as well. Somehow, the two are conflicting in nature, but I think women are quite capable of figuring their lives out, provided they are given an equal opportunity. I think that is the key to it.
Often in organisations there is an unspoken culture, which is based on assumptions about what women can or can’t do, or if she is married or will get married, or will she have kids or won’t. This kind of predisposed conceptions which the companies have, they base it to give promotions or hold the same. However, such kind of things should be neutral and should not be gender biased and if that is sorted, I think women overall can have things figured out.
Once women have children, it ‘seems’ as if things get tougher for them. Your views.
I think it is really situational. For example, when I had my first daughter, I was at home for a couple of months with her. Though I did know I would be coming back to work, but just prior to joining back, I just couldn’t imagine how am I going to do it. I was so absorbed with the kid and your hands are really full.
However, the day I came to work was a realisation that I have to be here and I think those are the things, which you as a woman, got to say to yourself. That you have to follow through a certain decision and hold on to it.
Surely, with children everything becomes overwhelming, but it’s really about taking each day, each event as it goes, figuring it out. You need to be clear on what you have to do, hold on to it and not get overwhelmed, because these things and such phases will come.
Are we in a man’s world trying to fit in?
Yes, I think we are still in a man’s world. I don’t think we are in a truly equal world. Even in the educated societies, you can see it is deep rooted; but to change that women themselves need to take the responsibility. We can’t expect someone else to do it for us, that is the only way it can change, we can’t expect or wait for the society or the ecosystem to change and then think about changing ourselves.
Top 3 suggestions for women in the healthcare industry, trying to move ahead in their careers.
Really work bottoms up. Healthcare being a complex business, has multiple moving wheels and it is important to understand the space in a holistic manner in order for you to move. It is not good enough to be doing only one kind of thing
You should have the ability to work with others; this is a very people intensive industry. There are doctors, nurses, outsourced staff; so, you have to be able to converse at a human level and get through to people of all different kinds.
Always remember that there is no replacement for hard work.
What is that one mantra that keeps you going?
You have to enjoy what you are doing, believe in it and feel like it’s your calling.
How do you maintain work life balance?
My timings are pretty well defined as I pick up my kids for the day care in evening. I don’t let that get encroached on as it is a very precious time for me. Weekends are also sacrosanct with kids. I let go of other social commitments, which do not involve my kids.
How do you unwind and relax after a long day at work?
I usually play with my kids in the garden for an hour or so, read a bit, watch movies, shows.
Any favorite saying that you go by?
This too shall pass.