How many women do you know of who are in top management roles? Not many, right? We thought so. Thankfully, if you’re socially aware, you’d know how efforts are being made globally to fix this problem and to make workplaces more diverse. We caught up with one such woman in a top management role- Priyanka Nijhawan. In fact, she’s a mother to two kids (one of who is now a teenager) as well. So, on the occasion of Mother’s Day, we caught up with Priyanka to know her take on motherhood, maintaining a successful career along with a close bond with kids and much more.
Firstly Priyanka, tell us a bit about your family and your children.
Well, I have two kids- a 14-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy. And motherhood has been a really evolving journey for me. I have been so busy balancing a social life, work and kids that I didn’t realise how time has flown by! Having them has certainly made me better behaved because I know that they are watching and learning from what I am doing.
What changes did you see in your career post-motherhood? Did you have to make any sacrifices on the career front?
I was working before I became a mom. So, at the time of my first child, I took a break of four years and then returned to work. You know, children are always looked at as only a mother’s responsibility. We don’t see husbands being equally involved. Especially us working mom, we tread on a very thin line. But motherhood has been a really beautiful journey for me. I feel I could have done more because you always want to be there for the kids. But I have learnt that there’s nothing called the perfect balance. It’s all about prioritising the day.
We can see how your role as a Director needs you to travel a lot. What tips would you give out to moms who also need to travel a lot for work?
Of course, have a support system in place. Thankfully, I live in a joint family. So, someone is always around. We even have help and maid in our country. But honestly, sometimes mothers being away from the kids is a good thing because most of us are helicopter moms! So, when we are around we are doing everything for them and kids don’t end up learning how to be responsible. My younger one’s personality totally changes when I am not around. He takes responsibility and does his things on his own if I am not there. Also, there’s always a set routing the kids have to follow even if I am not around. Nobody can change that.
Wow, that’s quite hands-on! So, how do you feel mothers can manage time better while juggling between successful careers and motherhood.
See, it’s a 24X7, 30 days a month, 365 days a year job! Just try and love both work and home. At the end of the day, be a happy mom. You have to set boundaries, which these days are becoming blurred. The work e-mails are flowing even at home or you carry things from home to work, that’s not how it should be. Dedicate a specific time exclusively for your kids and make sure to let everyone around you know that it’s their time and not to disturb you.
Great! And what advice would you give to working moms if their children feel neglected due to their work, especially since you have a teenager?
Honestly, with teenagers, I feel it’s the other way around! They have a set time for everything- school, classes, activities…Teenagers are busier than us! Also, it’s not like they need help with their school work. They just need you to be there for them. So, set your time to be around them, according to their schedule. Be there when they need you. In fact, when you work hard, your children also value your time and listen to you.
That’s true. So, mothers in senior roles are often branded as career-obsessed. How do you feel our society can be more supportive when it comes to successful working moms?
Statistically speaking, women in leadership roles are declining. Of course, we are hoping to bring about a chance. Thankfully, my family and friends have been really supportive. I feel that the change has to come from people like us, who are in the leadership roles. Women just need to hang in there and change the ecosystem. We have to look at what positive changes can be brought- are there enough creches, are women getting enough leaves? For example, at our Bangalore office, Saturdays used to be working on rotation. But now have 4 moms working there, so we made Saturdays a work from home day. My team brings value t my organisation, so why not give them that extra benefit.
On that beautiful thought, we hope you guys took notes and are ready to make this Mother’s Day all the more special for your mom!