“I will be the youngest Regional Director of this company,” I told Rishabh after my first day of work at the leading FMCG company.
I had just graduated from India’s top MBA institute and was full of energy. Rishabh (my college sweetheart then, and husband now) smiled back at me and just said – “I know you will.”
I have been a star student throughout my life – school, engineering, and MBA programme. I am a double gold medallist and a lot of my success can be attributed to my parents, who always motivated me to push my own limits to become the best version of myself. So when I joined the workforce, I felt super confident about my goal to ace at my company. And I did.
10th Jun 2018: After 12 years of working hard and acing at almost all my assignments, I was holding this letter from my boss.
The letter read:
We would like to thank you for your immense contribution to the performance of the company. In order to show our appreciation, we would like to promote you to the position of Regional Director.
Yes, you are right. That’s a snapshot from my promotion letter. I had achieved my dream. At the age of 36, I became the youngest employee to become the Regional Director. The promotion not only meant a 30% increment on my current compensation and additional perks but also that I would be leading a team of 500+ people and charting out the future strategy of the company.
In case you feel that my story sounds like the story of a wonder-woman, then let me not keep it from you what happened next – I declined.
Yes, I said No to the opportunity that I had killed myself for in last 12 years. I had sacrificed uncountable great moments of my life to be at this position. I had canceled so many dinner plans with my friends and family to get this one opportunity. I had worked through so many weekends and holidays, traveling on work to crazy places where no one else would want to. And, here I was. Saying no to the only thing that I wanted for such a long time.
Because that’s what the mother inside me told me to do.
My husband and I are college sweethearts. We met in our MBA college and fell into love over our favorite subject – Statistics. Yes, you can say we are a nerd couple! Both of us spent the early part of our career grinding it out in high-pressure corporate jobs that physically and spiritually zapped us. And, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
But, then parenthood happened to us in 2015.
And, we vowed to re-prioritize what was important in our lives. Both of us felt that we needed to slow down a bit. We needed to focus on our kid till she is not old enough to recognize the way this world operates. Till the time she can tell us everything she has seen or experienced during the day.
Motherhood taught me that it is important to:
- let go of the idea of perfect you!
- let go of the regret of your peers moving the corporate ladder!
- let go of the things that you are not ready for!
- let go of the speed and switch to auto mode!
I love my job and I love my company and I hope to contribute to their profits for many more years to come. But, right now there is someone more important in my life who needs me more than my company or my career. With this new role, I was expected to be on roads for almost 2 weeks in a month, double what I was traveling before. And, most of them would be long-distance travel. What it would also mean is I will be spending more time in meeting rooms, when I would actually want to be in my kid’s playroom.
So, I spoke to my boss and shared my feelings on why I think the timing wasn’t right for me.
And, he respected my decision. He told me its very important in life to switch gears to drive in the right lane. Only a seasoned driver who has her eye on the bigger prize would be able to do it.
He always appreciated my ability to see the big picture, which is a key competency required for driving a successful business and a happy life. He suggested that we can discuss with the HR to create a mid-way role for me. Though I hardly doubt that would happen any soon, I can wait.
Over the last one month, the colleagues who love passing judgments about Indian Politics, US Elections, World’s Economic Condition during their smoke breaks, have got a great new topic to discuss.
To them my decision to let go of this dream job for motherhood is unfathomable. As per some of them, it is because of women like me, who put their dreams on hold for raising kids, that women are not trusted or promoted to senior levels in the corporate world. While another set of people believe that the mother in me has killed my ambition and I have made a career suicide by turning down an opportunity like this.
The same people would have judged me if I would have accepted this promotion. They would have called me a selfish and irresponsible mother, who prioritized her work over her family.
But, a woman like me and you, hardly listen to what the world has to say? This is what I have learnt and this is what my daughter will inherit from me – It doesn’t matter what’s against you when you know what’s within you.
More from I for Her: The Time When She Realized It is Important To Say No
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