Women City


Shireen Alam

The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here
I am a Director, Program Management at Sapient Global Markets, a division of Sapient. I live in Gurgaon with my husband, Vinay Singh, CEO, Vital Wires. I grew up in Kolkata, India and then got a scholarship to do my A Levels in the UK. After that I did my undergraduate degree in the US at Mount Holyoke College, MA.

Insight of My Company and the Role I Play in it
Sapient Global Markets is a leading provider of services to today's evolving financial and commodity markets. It provide a full range of capabilities to help clients grow and enhance their businesses, create robust and transparent infrastructure, manage operating costs, and foster innovation throughout their organizations.
I am a Service Delivery Lead (SDL) in Sapient Global Markets. I own the overall delivery for some of our financial services clients. In this role I work with teams to ensure that we deliver the services to our clients while ensuring our teams are growing, learning and happy to be at work. I have recently joined the Gurgaon Office Leadership Forum where we focus on building the community in the Gurgaon offices.

Decisions That Mattered
Never saying no to anything my leaders have asked me to do. I have found that no matter how trivial the role seems to be, I always learn something from it. Genuinely investing in people if you fake it, people will know. Sometimes it is hard to do this when you don't get the same commitment back from people, but the few that then grow and are as committed as you make it all worth it.

My Vision as a Leader
To have a happy, fulfilled team and clients who love Sapient because we made them successful.

Resolving Challenges Faced as a Women
Playing traditional roles while moving ahead in non-traditional ways - Even though the world moves forward and people today have different views of the division of labor in the home, women still take on the majority of the more traditional female roles of home-maker, care-giver, social-coordinator and so on. So many women feel torn between these roles and end up giving up a lot of their own sense of self, or their own desires to fulfill these roles.
I have found that working for a company that supports women through some of the more difficult times is really what helps make women successful in all spheres of their lives. Sapient (my managers and my teams) let me work from home, schedule my travel at times that are convenient to me and supports me when I need time off.

Work - life Balance
First I prioritize what I want, and then I figure out how to make it happen. I have been known to schedule my meetings around my TV shows (my clients and teams heaved a sigh of release when they introduced Tata Sky Plus to India), take calls from the hospital when my husband was sick and work from home when I needed to take care of things in the house. I also ensure that I have support at home in the form of full-time help and asking my husband to pick up things for the house on his way home. I get help to do routine chores, sometimes at slightly additional costs because I would prefer to spend that time relaxing or working! None of this is easy, and takes planning and a great amount of communication, but once things get set up, it isn't that difficult to deal with.

Starting Over from Scratch, What I Would Like to do Differently
To be honest, there is very little I would do differently. I have always taken on new opportunities when people put them in front of me and have learnt a lot. I have had a lot of support from people in Sapient and worked with amazing people. I might wish I had learnt sooner to be a kinder, more empathetic manager when I started to grow into the role. While it is important to be assertive, harshness never goes very far. I have been lucky to have teammates that have given me feedback and help me improve.
The other thing I wish I had learnt quickly was how to raise issues without sounding overly negative. It really is true that you catch more bees with honey! If you partner with people, they are more open to feedback and change things to suit your needs.

Women Leaders: Driving Force for Powering Business
I don't think women are specifically the driving force for powering business. I think it is important to have strong representation of women to ensure diversity of ideas and we see this more in today's world.

My Learning Along the Way
Learning to say no to taking on projects when you are over-whelmed. The great thing about Sapient is that there are hundreds of opportunities and you can really do a myriad of things, even those that aren't related directly to your domain. However, there are times when you just have to say no because you plenty already on your plate. It is completely acceptable at that time to say no to taking on a new project. You just need to balance your contributions to the organization with the number of times you say no!

Two Years Down the Line
I don't measure success in terms of steps on the ladder or titles that I expect to have. My hope is that I continue to learn and work with great people.

An Accomplishment You are Most Proud of?
Seeing the people I work with, grow.

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