Director, Professional Communications, SapientNitro
Sandhya Prasad is a member of:
Insights About Yourself
I was an army brat. I grew up and studied all over India, but managed to finish my high school and college from Lucknow – Loreto Convent and Avadh Girls Degree College respectively. Words are my first love, so it was perfectly natural that I graduated with my Bachelor’s in English Literature. Computers had just entered India and I was fascinated. I did a diploma in Computer Software, and after a brief stint as a database programmer, wandered into the field of technical editing with Sonata in Bangalore. I had found my niche. Since then, I worked around the globe and covered the gamut of business communications in so many companies – CMC, DEC, Intel, Oracle, to name a few.
Insights of Your Company and Your Role
SapientNitro, a division of Sapient, is a leading integrated marketing, commerce and technology services firm, that creates and engineers highly relevant brand experiences, to accelerate business growth and fuel brand advocacy. I am working in the Bangalore office as Director, Professional Communications, managing multiple global functions comprising Technical Communications, Visual Communications, Internal Communications, Training, and Knowledge Management for the Methods and Tools group.
Noteworthy Career Decisions
Honestly, I have not consciously directed my career down the path it eventually led. I was open to opportunities that came up and made speedy decisions. One set of decisions was around location: I started my career in Bangalore, then moved to Singapore and Los Angeles, mainly driven by family and friends and a love of travel.
One conscious decision I did make was to stay in the field of communications even when opportunities came up to climb the corporate ladder by expanding into other areas. I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I moved away. However, I did grow laterally within communications. As an individual contributor, I moving from technical editing to technical writing and instructional design, with a smattering of marketing and internal communications thrown in. In addition to the usual communications and training teams, I also managed graphics and online production teams. My current role is absorbing to me as it is a microcosm of my experience so far.
Vision As A Leader
To make a difference. To the organization where I work, to the people who work there, particularly my own team, and to the industry. I really mean it. Whenever this hasn’t happened, I’ve felt unhappy with the situation.
Challenges Faced and Ways to Tackle
Frankly, I’ve never faced any particular challenges as a “woman”, except now with my little one. Otherwise, I don’t think gender has had any impact at all on my career. I’m a single Mom with a two year old daughter, so juggling between work and home, especially when something at home breaks down such as my baby being sick or the maid being on leave, suddenly has become a huge challenge. Even taking calls in the evening becomes a trial. I’ve become unafraid to ask for help when I need it – whether it is hiring people (maid, cook, nanny, driver and so on), sending her to day care, and falling back on my primary support – my parents! I wouldn’t be able to manage without them.
Balancing Work Life
I’ve believed in balance throughout my career and practiced it. I think that’s the key to be happy, at peace, creative, productive, and successful. I mention it as my working style and share it in working practices. I state my regular working hours, and the hours I can take calls from home. I try to keep all my out-of-office-hours meetings to about two days a week. In a crunch, I prioritise my work and focus on high impact areas, and areas where others have a dependency on me. I trust people and delegate work.
I try to stay healthy, though I keep falling off the exercise wagon. With my current lifestyle, I keep a high protein diet to maintain my energy. I make time for the fun stuff – chai, lunches, outings, just a day off, so that I enjoy life and stay grounded. I smile back at my impish daughter and everything immediately gets in perspective.
Changes Implemented If Given a Chance To Start Over
When I started out, I never imagined I would be working twenty seven years without a break! If I had to start over, I would think more long-term, strategise my career right away with my Personal Development Plan (something I keep harping to my team about) and probably reach places a lot faster. And oh yes, I would manage my finances better – have less debt and more savings.
Women As Driving Force Of Business
Women tend to network and connect more easily, and that’s a huge plus to get work done and influence decisions. They are often better at people and relationship management and that takes leadership to the next level, beyond merely the task. They are persistent, reliable, and loyal. Usually, they don’t let ego get in the way. And of course, they are strong communicators.
Lessons Learnt on the Way
I continually develop myself professionally, and that enriches my professional life and keeps it interesting. I’ve learn to manage politics and not avoid them. It makes sense to understand and adapt to company cultures. Figure out how to be successful, or have to the courage to break out of situations that aren’t likely to lead to success and happiness.
As of now, I am still working on it.
Taking my team successfully through an acquisition, not once, but twice in my career!
Advice To Fellow Women
I have seen that women often short circuit their own career anticipating breaks such as marriage and babies, and they really don’t need to do it. Even if they do take a break, they should get back, as there’s such a shortage of skilled and experienced people in all industries world-wide. They should keep their expectations reasonable when they restart, but then put in as much into their career as any other professional. Finally, they should be assertive, stand up for themselves, and not hesitate to confront difficult situations and people.