Imagine going for your b-school entrance examination 4 days prior to delivering a child! And continuing studies at a b-school to achieve the career goals you have set out for yourself while attending to a toddler at home. Sounds challenging right?! It indeed was. Meet Tata Steel Sr. Manager HRBP, Sanchita Gupta, who overcame all the odds in her way to pursue her dreams. This is an excerpt from the interview with Sanchita.
- You have a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and you joined Wipro in the talent transformation division in the year 2010. When did the decision to join an MBA happen?
Marketing being a buzz word at that time, it was an obvious choice. I got selected for Wipro Limited through campus placements. This was the time when people were losing jobs due to the subprime mortgage crisis. Having an offer from a good organization was all any student could have dreamt of. My stint at Wipro had been quite enriching and post getting through an internal job posting in the Talent Transformations vertical, my aspiration changed and I planned to grow further in Talent Management & Talent Development kind of roles. This is when I decided that I must earn a professional degree in Human Resource Management.
- You were married by this time and a very interesting turn of events in your personal life happened when you were about to write your b-school entrance exam. Tell us a little bit about it?
Just when I decided to start pursuing my MBA, I came to know that I had conceived. It was 4 days prior to the scheduled delivery that I wrote my entrance test and I looked quite a showstopper in the exam venue as I saw many eyes popping out seeing my condition. But, I focussed on my paper, and thanks to God and my prep, I was able to finish my paper well, despite all those fluctuating hormones!
- Take us through the XISS interview process. Were you asked about how you would manage b-school with a kid?
The interview process at XISS was a standard one. The panel members had been quite approachable. They did ask me if I would be able to manage the intensive course curriculum along with taking care of an infant. Especially more so, when my spouse would be operating out of a different location. I informed them that my mother would be taking care of my baby at home and I would be able to juggle between the two.
- How difficult was it for you to manage your b-school education and raising a kid at the same time?
Being a student mom is doable, with one caveat: one needs a strong support system. I could manage all this because of my mother who not just supported me but took care of my child throughout the course without having me worry about anything else but studies. I also can’t thank my husband enough for understanding and encouraging me to chase my dreams despite the fact he would have to stay away from us to continue operating from his work location.
- At any point in your life did you feel like the pressure is too much to take and you would succumb to it?
My son was 5 months old when I joined XISS. The sleeping schedule had been erratic and I don’t remember sleeping for more than 4-5 hours during my first year at b-school. I felt horribly torn when my son had to undergo treatment for fever, cough, and cold during one of my semester examinations. But, thankfully, we sailed through the situation with patience and perseverance and I did fine in my exam too.
- What were some of the concerns that you had regarding landing on a job before Tata Steel came to your campus for hiring?
Considering the gender-bias scenario prevalent in the corporate sector, I felt employers would have questions around how a working mother would be able to cope. To my surprise, the Tata Steel selection process has been very professional & merit-based. They did not have any questions around my marital status or being a student mom, despite that being clearly mentioned in my CV. I got my very first lesson from Tata Steel, that one must avoid prejudices in the recruitment process.
- Moving to Jamshedpur, with a toddler and joining Tata Steel. How was this transition for you and how did the organization help you in this?
Tata Steel is a truly inclusive organization. Company accommodation in a safe environment, medical facilities, state-of-the-art crèches, Tata Steel truly cares about the working mom and understands their requirements in a humane way. They have various employee-friendly policies. These include satellite office operation, a five-day workweek, work from home days, nursing breaks, and a revised sabbatical leave policy. It also provides Additional Privilege Leaves for mothers of young children. It has also instituted out-of-bell-curve consideration during appraisals for women on maternity leave which is a huge step in itself. They are thoughtful of the requirements of a working mother and put in all the efforts to provide employees an enabling environment.
- What would be the one message that you would like to give out to mothers like you, who are at the crossroads of family and career?
To all the mothers like me, I want to tell them that they must never allow others to abort their dreams and must follow their passion without any guilt. It is important to find true meaning & passion in one’s life to add life to one’s days.