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Men and women are not the same: Vinita Gera, GM, India COE at Dell

Men and women are not the same, but they are equally resourceful. This was the crux of our discussion with Vinita.

We are biologically different

We have to acknowledge the fact that men don’t give birth and they don’t go through monthly menstrual cramps. This is just a fact, and not one we must waste our energy fighting. Thus, Vinita believes both the maternity leave law and the period leave initiation are important.

We must, however, acknowledge that not all women are the same either. For some, it's easier to bounce back to work after a shorter maternity break. Similarly, for some women, period pain is traumatic while for others it may only be considered an unwelcome inconvenience. This means that these laws need to be more flexible. Six months of maternity leave should not be mandated. There must be room for personal choice with a base period of three months.

Period leave, at the moment, is at an organisation’s discretion and only few have put this into practice but it’s not mandated. Women must be able to choose if they need it and during which months. Vinita also believes that creating this special category for it, in fact, helps fight the taboo that has long surrounded the topic.

We have different strengths

This is not to make a generalisation of any kind. There will always be exceptions to every rule. However, it is, for example, proven time and again that women lead with higher empathy. The dynamics of the world are changing around us and that is changing the kind of leadership we require. Empathy and agility are critical today. The challenges we have ahead of us are uncertain to say the least. Even during the pandemic, we have seen nations led by women perform better. Organisations must realise empathetic leadership is the need of the hour and this calls for more women in leadership roles than ever before.

What does motivation look like after decades of accomplishment?

When we start a career, we often see a ladder and the steps we intend to climb to get to the top. However, when you have climbed most of that ladder, we were curious to learn what growth looks like from up there and what keeps one motivated to continue the journey.

‘When I solve problems be it business, people or widely at an organisational level – I find my heart doing a happy dance. It keeps my energy up and I love the feeling of being useful to something or someone! That is enough motivation for me to keep going.’

Sometimes, it’s as simple as still feeling a sense of excitement and fulfilment when you sit down to tackle a task. It’s easy to stay motivated when you aren’t feeling something drain you. This is why it’s important to find yourself a job that peeks a real interest and not only one that checks a list.

In terms of growth, Vinita has defined this for herself as being able to do things she hasn’t done before. At this stage of her career, in the tech sector she is part of, there are so many different parts of the business that are starkly different from each other. She has built products in her engineering phase and now she is in a cross-functional role where each program differs from the other. In the future she hopes to learn other aspects of the business.

We believe there is a lot of sound advice in that one sentence. When we speak of growth, we tend to look outside the box we are in. We have always been told to think outside the box if we want to grow from our comfort zone. However, many times we haven’t explored every corner of the same box. It goes to show that one can innovate and experiment within the same industry or even with the same organisation. The next time you’re feeling stuck, first look around your existing environment and see if there’s opportunity hidden behind doors.

Marriage, Motherhood and a Career – the age-old balancing act:

Vinita was honest about the fact that it isn’t a cake walk. Especially, in the early years where all three of these aspects of life were relatively new and demanded her attention. However, once the quirks of the initial years were ironed out, it did, true to the saying, get easier with time.

Vinita realised these elements are directly proportional to each other. When things got smoother on the personal side, her professional life benefited. Now, as an empty nester and in hindsight, Vinita can happily attest to the fact that her personal life didn’t pose anything she would consider a hurdle. She does believe that marriage and motherhood contributed to making her a better leader and her professional life also helped her manage her personal relationships with more craft.

‘I discuss situations from my professional life at home with my partner and my daughter on a day-to-day basis. It’s a big part of our conversations and it’s mutual for all of us. I think those conversations have been very enriching and I get perspectives from my loved ones. It expands my thought process to include different points of views. It’s been a huge gift.’

We thought this little tip was a great way to strike work-life integration. After all, your family and your work are all components of what we call a life. And maybe the trick isn’t to exclude them from each other with a stern line that seems to keep stretching; but instead let them co-exist.

Last words

We hear the power of habit day in and day out. And for those of us who struggle to do the same thing every day, it can feel overwhelming. This is why we thought we’d leave you with wise words from Vinita on how she, as a creature of change (not habit), tackles this dilemma:

‘I am not a creature of habit – but a creature of change. I love variety in everything and get bored very easily. So, I have very few lifelong habits and love variations even when I want to do something regularly.

As an example – the style of my to-do list keeps changing. The way I look at fitness keeps changing. The place I sit when working from home keeps changing. Variety is indeed the flavour in my life, and I find consistent habits very bland.’

This goes to show that one can find consistency even in variety. Here’s to you defining your own habits and path, and women like Vinita inspiring us along the way!

Vinita Gera is the General Manager, India COE at Dell Technologies and the Co-Chair for Digital Transformation at CII (Confederation of Indian Industry)

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