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No more climbing; its traversing

Sadhana Somasekhar
Sadhana Somasekhar
Joint Managing Director, Future Focus Infotech
Sadhana Somasekhar is currently the joint managing director of Future Focus Infotech. She heads t... more>>
As an IT HR company, at Future Focus Infotech, we are witness to and often party to, the evolutionary and proverbial continental drifts and volcanic rumblings of working professionals, particularly IT professionals. Two broad trends stand out- the emergence of the woman in the corporate world from her stereo-typed cocoon and the "Career Lattice" as I would like to term it, as opposed to the "Corporate Ladder".

It is quite easy to broadly slot women as care givers capable of handling customer support/service roles. While she continues to grow on the strength of her inherent nurturing capabilities, she is also unveiling & acquiring new set of skills in a tearing hurry, and she is doing it without huffing and puffing against a host of challenges. She is able to toggle across domains, multitasking and cross pollinating her strengths.

Personally I was inclined to science- Microbiology and Pathology; I felt great peering through a microscope and recall the excitement I experienced every time when observing a whole other universe through the lens. While I loved research at the tiniest sphere, I was more drawn towards the "human" element of my work and engagement. To stay abreast of the technological advancements in Microbiology and augment my understanding of the IT side of my work, my mother inspired me to further my academic credentials to add an Hon. in Systems Analysis.

This was one of those life changing decisions, although at that time, I was probably not aware of the same. The proverbial paradigm shift! This decision has gone on to shape what I am and what I do today. The end of my academic phase in IT, bought with it the shift from Microbiology to the commencement of what is today over 2 decades in IT, addressing business in various flavors - solutions/products, hardware, software and most of all interacting and engaging with People. At the end of the day, life is at the core of everything.

Most professionally engaged women today possess the ability to traverse departmental grids with ease and this has in turn has led to an interesting new facet or theory even, in redefining the career path.Traditional career path constructs had/have this imagery of a "ladder" that needs to be scaled to get to the top job. This has more often than not, lead to a professional excelling in his/her field of expertise and making steady progress to the top only to find himself/herself holding on to a soda straw in hand, one-dimensional and restricted. The redefinition of women in the professional capacity has witnessed new phenomena which I would like to call the "Career Lattice". This is not gender restricted or dependent. However, having said that, perhaps the survival instincts or sheer versatility, has seen women moving across departments and equipping herself across skill sets, with far more easy and nimbleness than her complementary other gender.

Progress is in redefining the path itself, breaking free from the conventional corporate ladder dynamics, which probably has its origin when businesses were proprietary and when leadership was handed down from father to son or to some other member of the family. These days, leadership is not just a vertical, uni-dimensional path. It is a multi-faceted maze. You have to &walk-the-talk and the path to the "corner office".  Its not a solitary climb. Each office is one along the path of other offices (as in posts/positions). You do not have to tread the steps (or people) to get where you have to. You may or may not have a wall to support you along the way. Sometimes you walk alone, but more often you have a team, beside you or at least close behind. You certainly do not travel alone; you have people and you also carry baggage - some that you need and some that you have to eventually let go. Leaders are not leaders without followers!
You have to walk the path, whatever its condition or the circumstance. If you have a goal in sight and a map to get you there, then all you needs is determination/staying power, capability to travel the journey and little luck. The first step however, is to identify the goal and get the map in place.

Leadership is not any more about ladders and glass ceilings; its about a traveling a maze but with the capacity to move forward with vision when none is available.Ladders and the glass ceiling are all about lonely systems with a figure head to point the way. It exists regardless of gender & because of the sparseness of oxygen at the altitude there is very little space for more than a few at the top. But true leadership is one that suffuses the system with oxygen, spurs growth and the proliferation of leadership. The only "ceiling" if we must use the term, is in the twists and turns through the corporate maze. Traversing the maze is dependent on ones tenacity to hold on, be flexible in times when the curves are narrow and most of all to be able to see further than what is visible.

The woman of today has realized that its important to celebrate the differences, her ability to multi-task and incarcerate the concept of "work life balance". Nature has endowed women with a double whammy with regard to the coveted X-Factor (that unexplainable thing that adds a special value). What is really needed is to recognize and leverage the Power of the Double X that is in her DNA.  



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