From Tinkly-Eyed Girl To A Confident Woman – Nandita Sugandhi – SJMSOM – Celebrating Womanhood On InsideIIM

This woman’s day, a huge realisation struck me. My experiences and my endeavours to try to enter the corporate world have matured me a lot. I am no longer the twinkly-eyed girl that I used to be, but I have grown to be a much more confident woman. Of course, this is just the beginning of my journey, and there is never an end to it. But it has been beautiful however it has been, and it feels empowering to share these experiences.

What was high school like for you? How did it contribute to your personality/ the person you are right now?

 With my Dad being in a job subjected to a lot of transfers, I have quite a diverse school experience. But I was fortunate enough to find my high school being the same where I had studied in my childhood. I rediscovered my old friends. And I made many new ones, in fact even my bestie. To be honest, I had always felt more comfortable in the company of boys as they are always more candid. Girls care a lot and so they hide their feelings, unfortunately, a situation that I wish didn’t exist. Though I myself tend to do the same :p

But my time spent with my best friend, Harsh, opened me up as a person from being horribly shy to a little more carefree and open to accept life. A part of the confidence instilled in me is due thanks to him! We are still the bestest of friends even after 8 years. It is true, friends made in High School will last you for a lifetime.


If money was no object, what would you do all day?

 Call me vain, but I am an extreme shopaholic. If money was no object, I would probably shop all day long. Keep buying dresses, giving business to everyone who comes my way (wink wink) and give the most indulgent of indulgers a run for their money.


What advice would you give to a 5-year-younger you?

 An advice that I would give to a 5 year younger me, would be to take decisions carefully. Trust in myself and take a leap of faith. That I am capable of much more than I think.


How do you think women are better equipped to deal with problems as compared to men?

Honestly, I don’t think gender plays a role in any way to define one’s capability to deal with problems. It is the experiences and the very definition of an individual that qualifies them for being better. Usually, men are sturdier and can take decisions stoically, whereas women bring unseen perspective and a caring touch to their decisions. Both approaches are better suited for different kinds of decisions. So, being better equipped with respect to problem-solving skills because of someone’s gender is something that I can’t comprehend.


Many IIMs and other b-schools award extra points for being a woman. What is your take on that? Do you propagate the concept OR Have you faced any backlash for the same?

It is indeed true that a lot of B-Schools offer extra points for being a woman. In a fair society, I would be completely against this decision. After all, these coveted institutions need the best candidates and not a certain gender. But it is also true that the society is not as fair as we would want it to be. Extra points for being a girl is an ugly necessity to promote girls to study, especially when it goes for higher education. Though my personal take is that lower fees for girls would encourage parents to send their girls to study higher as it will promise a better RoI.

As for the backlash of these extra points, we girls experience them all the time. We sometimes feel like we are a part of forced gender equality. We are under pressure to perform as good as our male counterparts, and sometimes even surpass them to prove our worth. Because this system has created a perception that whatever girls achieve, it is due to the merit of their gender and not their own talent. I wish the world understood, how much it undermines our respect and self – confidence. We wish to be treated as equals, we don’t want special treatment.


Name one incident that you encountered where someone told you, you couldn’t do something because you’re a woman.

Oh, it is one thing for which an opposite question should be asked. We rarely get told that we could, and only we could do something, just because we are women. For me, the choice of being a Civil Engineer itself was frowned upon, a field heavily dominated by males. I hope that I proved the questioning minds wrong by successfully and diligently completing 7 months of internship on the field.


If you are out on a date, do you prefer to pay yourself? If you insisted that you want to pay for yourself, how did the other person react?

If I am out on a date, I would love to pay for myself. In fact, it is better that if I am in a relationship, the dates should be paid for by both, alternatively if possible. This actually gives you turns to take your partner out on a date. I hope if I propose this to my date, he would not object. I would like to pamper him as much as I would like to be pampered myself. And of course, I am expecting a positive reaction.

I loved to give you a glimpse of what defined me as a woman. I hope that a lot of others out there can relate to what I meant. Just a message for you girls – “The world is out there for you. All you need to do is go own it!’


Public Relations Team, SJMSOM