September 18, 2014 — Welcome to the latest in our series of #WomenCan profiles, highlighting executives and experts who are transforming workplaces and are Catalysts for change within their companies and fields.
Meet: Ruchika Bhaskar Sethi, EY Global Delivery Network, Director—Talent Team
Early influences: My father was in the army, and was stationed at various locations while my mother, a school teacher, held down the fort. We were always taught to “make do” with what we had. It was survival of the smartest amongst me and my five siblings. I believe that in more ways than one, my disciplined upbringing played an essential role in shaping me into the person that I am today—my roots and the life lessons that I’ve learned from my family have moulded my identity.
Rooted in diversity: I truly believe that we are the sum of our experiences. Throughout my life, I’ve had the opportunity to live in various parts of the country. The diverse group of people I interacted with fostered my networking skills, and the beauty of differences thrilled me even back then.
As a child, a student, and a young professional, I came across different faces throughout my journey, embraced diverse cultures, and capitalized on these experiences. Today when I look back on how far I’ve come, I realize that those experiences provided me with the right platform to launch myself.
I studied at La Martiniere, Lucknow, and graduated from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi. I went on to earn a Master’s degree from Symbiosis Institute of Management, Pune, and was recruited through a campus drive by a software company in Bangalore.
The multiple boarding schools, colleges, and paying-guest accommodations taught me that change is constant. Adapting and embracing change became my second nature. My multicultural background showed me the importance of respecting and celebrating individual differences.
Role of mentors: I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have mentors and sponsors very early in my career.
The best advice given to me was by two of my mentors at different stages in my work life. When I was restless I was told, “It’s okay to be in slow motion sometimes.” We get so caught up in the next challenge, the next title, and are literally always on the run! “Slow time” is necessary to plan, reflect, re-energize and then surge ahead.
“Let your roots go deep down for you to grow tall and strong over time.” This is something that one of my mentors once told me, pointing at a potted plant in his office, when I discussed an exciting job offer I had received. In retrospect, this advice really helped. Staying grounded, showing resilience, being able to slow down, and having a long-term view held me in good stead over the years. It prevented me from making hasty decisions.
The myth called “work-life balance:” As a mother of two young children, I believe there is no such thing as a work-life balance. Sometimes your home needs attention, while other times there is firefighting at work. We just have to manage it to the best of our ability. It is almost like a flow of energy between work and home.
With women, the resistance arises because most often we tend to be captive to our self-built walls. Our everyday guilt drags us down. We need to remind ourselves that women are born leaders—from the female CEO of a company to the housewife who holds a home together, we are clothed in strength. It is essential to break free from the chains of guilt, and it is possible only if we can prioritize and make smart choices, secure our bases through strong relationships, and most importantly be positive and never give up.
Best advice: One of the most important things for young women to understand is the need for positivity. Being optimistic will take you a long way in your journey. It is essential to be at the right place at the right time, but one should never forget that fortune does favour the brave.
Having said that, remember that choosing the right life partner is a crucial factor—the right relationship is one where there are no gender roles. Together, you hustle, you cook, you change diapers and mentor each other!
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Learn how others are Catalysts for change at IAmA.Catalyst.org.