The Wonder Woman 2.0 — Managing corporate and personal spheres with aplomb!

Saving the world and balancing work and home is something which we are yet to witness about Wonder Woman in the DC Universe. But, here we have someone for you who has balanced her life in both aspects (and how!) and proved that if one has the passion to drive things forward, no situation or circumstances can stop things from happening. Let’s meet Shweta Chandra, Regional Manager (North India) at Bajaj Finserv and learn how her ‘never stop learning’ attitude made her journey as a corporate pro and as a champion mother so interesting!

Tell us something about the start of your corporate journey

“I started working in 2004 and ICICI Bank was my first engagement with the corporate world. I enjoyed my job and worked day in and day out there. In my first there, I did not even avail one of the 33 leaves that were assigned to me. That was the type of passion I had for work. Meeting new people, interacting with them and learning new things was what I was focusing on as it was a completely new journey for me. Till 2007 I was with ICICI and there I learnt Retail and NRI Banking, Audit, Functional Training and so on. Then, I moved to Kotak Mahindra Bank. This was just after I got married in 2007. I worked with them for 5 years (2007-2012 December). During this time I also became a mother for the first time. My journey was very smooth I must say.” 

How easy does it actually become for an individual to follow his/her passion? (as the world says that you must follow your passion)

“It becomes easy when one enjoys the work. If so, the passion to learn and the curiosity to know never ends.  This way one can grow very fast. My work was appreciated no matter where I was. I became a part of the special talent pool of Kotak Mahindra. Usually people get a promotion after 3 years or more, but I got a promotion after 16 months. All through, what remained constant in me was the drive to learn and explore new things about banking. So yes,”enjoying your work” is a big part of what helps one to follow his/her passion.”

Being a mother is a blessing…still what challenges did motherhood bring, and what made you bounce back into the corporate world?

“Well, I was handling the flagship branch of Kotak Mahindra and then I got hired to take care of the flagship branch of Yes Bank. Eventually I was made the Asst.Vice President at Yes Bank. With Yes Bank, I explored different shades of banking like Retail Banking, Corporate Banking, Behavioral & Functioning Training and more. After that I conceived my second child.

I was doing great work wise at that time. But obviously gave more value to my children and decided to nurture them by staying at home. The organization was very cooperative. This is because I left to take care of my lovely family and the organization actually waited for me. It is obvious that the corporate world only allows a performer to stay. Anyway, I knew what my priorities were at that point in time, so I decided to focus on my role as a mother. With the flow of time I started telling people that I do not work any longer and this always took people who knew 

me well aback. They said ‘’It is a wonder that a person like you does not work”. But my highly energetic boys and the rest of the family required me and I wanted to spend time with them to do justice to this role as well. My children were growing up nicely. One fine day I got a call from my boss asking me for a casual catch up over a cup of coffee. There he told me that I must not let go of my potential as an impactful corporate figure. He highlighted that  I was already 4 years into being an amazing mother and my children will need me forever. But in all of this I might somewhere be undermining and missing upon actualizing my professional potential. I spoke to my husband about this. I wanted to do justice to both my corporate and personal self. A lot of brainstorming happened, we gauged the pros & cons, and finally decided that time has come for me to now step back into the corporate world. 

How did you keep your passion for work alive during the initial stage of your motherhood?

“When I was on my parenting break, I took some classes with my children, did some behavioural training, collaborated with some corporates and then I started to write. In this freelancing mode, I felt I was doing ‘everything’. Things that I was missing about my corporate life, I was doing almost all of them while being able to give abundant time to my family. Every time I was with my kids, I was wholeheartedly with them. I played football with them, cricket and tennis and whatnot. So one can say that the fact that my children were growing up nicely was a big boost for me to freelance. So freelancing helped me keep my professional edges sharp while simultaneously I was performing effectively as a mother.”

Where are you currently working?

“I’m with Bajaj Finserv Ltd at the moment. I am working as a Regional Head for North India.“

How was your journey at FIIB?

“It was very nice. I still have fond memories of the time I spent there with my batch mates and with the professors (Dr Meenakshi, Dr.Poornima, Arun Sir from the library, Geeta Takdu Ma’am and more). Apart from this, I’d always focused on my studies and in 2004 I passed out of FIIB as a Gold Medalist and I was quite happy about that.”

On a closing note….any message you’d like to give to fellow FIIBians

Passion drives learning and one must never stop learning! This was one of my key takeaways from my days at FIIB. And with time, in my professional and personal journey this belief has become even more significant and strong.