Head Bancassura nce & Market Management,Bajaj Allianz
The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here I was brought up in Ranchi, an industrial town also known as the summer capital of Bihar (now capital of Jharkhand), and did my schooling from Sacred Heart Convent, Ranchi. I was always a good student, excelled in cultural activities at school and was even nominated one of the school’s House Captains.
Life took a sudden turn when I was married off to a Central Govt. Officer at a young age of 18 while still doing my Intermediate (equivalent to 12th Standard) in Science. My ambition of becoming a medical doctor took a back seat as I changed the stream of my studies and graduated with Hons in English from St. Mary’s College Shillong, where my husband was posted at the time.
Our first child was born while I was in my first year of graduation. Encouraged by my husband and family I continued with my studies and did well, securing the second position in the University.
After taking care of my son and the household for four years post my graduation, I decided to take up a career with full support from my husband. I appeared for the All India Competition held by GIC of India and was selected as an officer in Oriental Ins Co Ltd. When the insurance sector opened up with private players coming in, I shifted to Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company, my present place of employment.
From almost becoming a medical practitioner to studying English language and turning a closet poetess to taking up a career in a financial institution... well, the journey has been varied – adventurous and exciting.
My husband’s frequent transfers, every 2-3 years, played a key role in enriching my life as I interacted with people from all parts of the country. It opened up a new world in front of me. These interactions over the years transformed me from a curious but shy 18-year-old to a confident professional, ready for any challenge. Insight of My Company and the Role I Play in it Our Company, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company, is amongst the top Private General Insurance Companies in India.
I have handled various roles in the Company, starting as Sr. Manager handling large Corporates as a part of corporate marketing Team. Going ahead I managed States of Bihar, Jharkhand and also the Siliguri office taking care of these locations as Head. Presently, I’m heading the Bancassurance Department of our Company and take care of relationships of all the Banks which are tied-up with us. Besides this, I also head the Market Management Department of our Company which is a new initiative started by our company to leverage customer and market insight for enhancing both top line and bottom line of the company as a whole. Decisions That Mattered A few important career decisions which have made me what I’m today: •I shifted from a safe technical profile to take up a sales position as a Branch Manager in Oriental Insurance Co Ltd.at Patna, becoming the 1st woman Branch Manager in our Company in Bihar. This was 1998 when the political & social conditions in the state were not conducive form kind of work. Under my leadership, the Branch achieved some significant milestones.
•Another major step was shifting from a secure Government job to join a new Private Insurance Company which had yet to prove itself in the industry. The challenges were immense and these few years in my present company have helped me grow as a strong professional, committed to targets and deadlines.
•Another challenge I took up was to start Operations of my Company, bajaj Allianz GIC Ltd., in Bihar. It was not easy to start operations in this State where Pvt Insurance Companies were apprehensive about doing business. I took up the challenge and started with just a laptop, built up the operations and within a year had set up offices in 4 major towns of Bihar doing very successful business. It gives me immense satisfaction that we were able to provide gainful employment to several youngsters in the state, who would otherwise be moving elsewhere seeking employment opportunities.
My Vision as a Leader I believe that a true leader is the first amongst equals. As a leader I should be able to establish trust and rapport with my team, should be able to listen to them and also be able to persuade and sell a recommendation. As a leader I should be the one everyone in the team is going to rely on, a person who can take creative risk and adapt, inspire & guide the team and finally be proactive and result-oriented.
Resolving Challenges Faced as a Women India being a male dominated society, a woman has to work harder to prove herself. The role of keeping the family together and taking care of all emotional and social needs of the family are still a woman’s responsibility. We women are judged not just by our professional aptitude but also by the way we conduct ourselves socially and how we fulfill our family obligations. I have been lucky that my family has been supportive of my professional choices hence it has been a rather smooth journey for me. I sincerely wish and pray all women who want to make a mark in their lives get similar support from their loved ones.
Work- Life Balance As I mentioned earlier, I have an immense familial support which helps me enjoy my work as much as my social life in a very harmonious manner. A positive approach towards life and loving what you do helps you counter any stress which may come up. I take a mandatory annual holiday to spend quality time with my family. This is the best way to recharge oneself for facing any challenge in life.
Starting Over from Scratch, What I Would Like to do Differently Every moment I have lived and worked has shaped me into the person I am today. I would not want to do anything differently. Women Leaders: Driving Force for Powering Business Women are the core of a family. Women leaders bring the same values in their workplace. Besides being competitive and ambitious, we women have a sense of empathy and are high on emotional quotient. This helps us be aware of other’s feelings, needs and concerns, sense other’s developmental needs and anticipate and recognize the customers’ needs. This also helps us to be a Team player, a sure way to grow in any business. My Learning Along the Way I have learnt never to mix my professional life with my personal life.This has helped me in self regulation.Success is real only if it meets with the success of the Team. Being a Team player has helped me cultivate opportunities through diverse kinds of peopleI believe in learning lessons from the Past, giving my best to the present and not worrying about the future. Two Years Down the Line Though I believe in taking each day as it comes, for the next two years, in addition to my current role of heading bancassurance and market management, i look forward to taking up new challenges in the insurance industry abroad and drive the business I’d be handling, to greater heights. An Accomplishment You are Most Proud of? I’m proud to be a mother of two very creative and confident children.They are doing very well in their respective fields, having a balanced approach to life and are tolerant and compassionate human beings.
Advice/Suggestions Be empathetic, be confident, develop your technical skills. Once you establish your mettle as a competent professional, respect follows automatically. In the long run your being a woman does not matter as much as your being a transformational leader who can inspire your team in articulating their vision. My daughter-in law always says, “Women are considered the better half of the species because they are the ones who can conceive both babies and ideas”.