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Women at Work: Balancing Career and Personal Goals
The appointment of a woman to a high-profile position in a company is often taken as an indicator of a larger trend of women moving up the corporate ladder and breaking the glass ceiling. The ground realities, however, are quite different. A report by Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2012 and published in PMI Career Central, “Women in Technology: Do Men Still Dominate in IT?”, show that 24 percent of technology teams have no women and 35 percent of organizations have no women IT managers. The results are based on a survey of more than 2,000 global IT leaders. A report by Anita Borg Institute in February 2012, published in PMI Career Central, show that among Fortune 500 technology companies only four have a woman CEO.

In India, Intel now has two women executives at the top – president Ms. Kumud Srinivasan, and head, sales and marketing, Ms. Debjani Ghosh and is the only country within Intel to have that distinction. To enhance diversity at the workplace, many organizations have launched womencentric programs to improve the recruitment and retention of women at the workplace. IBM announced in May 2012 that it would recruit more women in leadership positions and across all levels in India. Companies such as Accenture, SAP Labs, Infosys, and Cisco have programs to attract and retain women. The National Association for Software and Services Companies estimates that the IT-BPO sector in India employs eight lakh women and is one of the largest employers of women in the country. However, not many women survive the pulls and pushes from society and move out before they can reach leadership positions.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Geetha Rao speaks to a few senior women project managers, trainers, and academicians to understand their trials and triumphs at work, and their success mantra.

Strike the Right Balance
Prof. Karuna Jain
Ministry of HRD Intellectual Property Rights Chair and Professor of Technology & Operations Management
Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management
Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay

Your insights into project management
Today, I find that project management is in some ways different from that of 25 years ago. Earlier, it was about basic project management skills, but today, it is about specialized project management skills based on the project. It is also about how to create projects, how to make them happen, and how to manage projects. Over the years, you need different tools for different projects. Computerization has ushered in much change.

Tips for women project managers
Success depends on how women look at their lives and work at striking a balance. There are women who decide to focus on careers, and then decide to take time off to focus on their families. There are others who decide that there will be ups and downs, but both family and career are important. There are yet others who opt to work from project to project. They work on a project, which is for a specific time period, take a break, and then take up another project. For this, project management skills come in very useful.

Those with challenging jobs can learn how to face them with project management.

Recommendations to companies
Women employees leave when they find they have no support whether within the organization or on the home front. Our social system is such that women are expected to perform certain roles and made to feel guilty if they don’t. There is a conflict between their aspirations career-wise and responsibilities at home.

Companies should identify their needs and create a support system. They must offer flexibility to women employees because when you are given flexibility, you are even more committed.

Sometimes, women lack confidence in their capabilities. A little assertion helps. Companies must nurture them (into becoming assertive).

Qualities in women project managers
I find that women have inherent project management skills. They are good at multi-tasking, which is a skill required in project management. They also take prompt decisions in an ambiguous environment. They can clear the ambiguity. They are able to quickly figure out what the problem is. They prioritize quickly. They are good at time management, which is the crux of project management.

Relevance of project management
A certification in project management is very relevant, because it provides a common platform, a common language, a common process, and common knowledge areas in any environment, including a multi-cultural, multi-country project environment.

Tide Over Tough Times
Ms. Vandana Malaiya
Director, Delivery Excellence
IBM India

The journey
I did Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. I wanted to get into hardware R&D. I joined DCM DataSystems and worked there for 10 years, of which two were in the U.S. While at DCM, I happened to work on ISO9001 Certification. The work helped me get broad-based knowledge of software engineering and project management. Later, I moved to Bangalore and worked at Verifone, before becoming an entrepreneur for nearly a decade. I come from a business background and always wanted to set up my own business. The experience gave me a sound background in setting up a business. While running it, there were gaps that had to be bridged; so, I had to build my capabilities. I did courses in finance; I trained in HR. I sought seed capital from angel investors. I took exceptional risks, learned how to network. It was a very interesting experience. Handling different situations right then and there became a part and parcel of my life. Later, I successfully sold my business.

Then I joined IBM, and was able to leverage all my previous learnings at IBM.

My achievements
The highpoint in my career has been going through the whole gamut of setting up a business, running it, and successfully selling it.

Tips for women project managers
There are phases in a woman’s lifecycle when you may want to give up, but I believe that the tenacity to hold on matters a lot. You must understand that the need/phase is not permanent; you can tide over it. While in that phase, seek help, figure out a way that works best, or take a short break: whatever works. You must be able to continue to work throughout the life phases. Discipline, rigor, time management, structure, prioritization, and delegation will see you through. I have seen my other colleagues also manage because of these.

Enablers helping women today
Flexibility is a must, whether to work out of home or in other ways, and companies must offer that. IBM is phenomenal in terms of support.

Equal opportunity being the norm is a critical factor. It must be reinforced. A policy around lifecycle changes helps a lot. It would help if the company remained connected with employees when they are away (say on maternity leave) through newsletters or updates. Creches close to the work place take the pressure off working mothers.

PMI & Women Project Managers
PMI has been conducting a regular survey to take a comprehensive look at compensations for project professionals across the globe. The PMI Project Management Salary Survey— The Seventh Edition was conducted in 2011 and is based on self-reported data from more than 30,000 project management practitioners from 29 countries around the world. Among other parameters, the report shows disparities between the salaries of men and women project managers across the world, and thereby creates awareness about it in the industry. Refer to this link for more https://www.pmi.org/learning/careers/project-management-salary-survey

PMI has launched a video series on YouTube, titled “Women in Project Management.” In this widely viewed series, Ms. Beth Partleton, PMP, PMI Board of Directors, speaks about her journey, project management as a career for women, and more. To watch the series, refer to this link for more http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSP5iPcvxpPi6QVjsnPJMixCp7-C45mif

PMI Educational Foundation runs a scholarship program for women project managers. The Women in Project Management Scholarship Fund goes out twice a year for a maximum value of US$ 2,000 and is open to women practitioners from anywhere in the world who wish to take a project management continuing education course.

PMI has a Specific Interest Group (SIG) for women project managers. The Women in PM SIG help members with common interests and industries to come together and share ideas, challenges, and concerns across geographical boundaries. Through networking, developing technical papers, teleconferences, and collaborative work on special projects, members have a unique opportunity to learn and grow.

Own Your Career
Ms. Rani Chittaranjan Das
Associate Director
Business Information Management - Chief Technologist’s Office - Center of Excellence,
Capgemini India, Hyderabad

The journey
I started with marketing in the manufacturing industry, with a paint manufacturing company. I grew with the company, learned all my initial skills there, and performed various roles, from personnel management to marketing support. I then moved to a more specific role at Nagarjuna Coated Tubes Limited, from domestic to export marketing. Following that, I worked for 10 years at ITC Ltd. in the exports line, handling export finance and working capital management. I also qualified in MBA Finance.

Next, I worked at Satyam for 10 years and was operations head of Satyam Learning Centre. As a learning consultant for banking and finance, I pioneered several activities. The first onsite learning program launched by me was held in Washington. I institutionalized a lot of learning initiatives, and cross-geography and cross-functional best practices. Later, at Deloitte, I headed the leadership program, building a leadership pipeline from the campus to the CEO level.

Deloitte was active in project management. I also headed the project management center of excellence; we had 250 homegrown PMP® certified professionals. The programs were high-intensive, with case studies, real-time scenarios, high quality training; it ran like a well-oiled engine.

I completed my PMP® certification in 2009. By nature, I am framework-oriented, process-driven, checklist-driven, into stakeholder management, risk management, and plan Bs. Without knowing it, I was applying project management principles at work.

My achievements
My achievement lies in developing people, making them competent, and giving them skills to become successful. A couple of papers are also my achievements – at the Project Management Conference in Satyam on developing project induction and client exposure, and the PMI Conference at Colombo in 2010, on leveraging project management skills in learning and development.

Tips for women project managers
Own your career and life. In college, girls have great aspirations, but later succumb to lifecycle pressures and get into the victim mode. Instead, have a plan, focus on it, and know when to dial up or dial down; when necessary, take a specialist role where you work alone, or go into virtua teaming. Speak up about your constraints without getting emotional and find solutions.

Compete with yourself rather than others. Women change their roles and careers to suit their families. Do the reverse – be focused and maneuvre things around that. Use your prioritization, plan management, multitasking, negotiation, and people management skills at work and home. Don’t blame the environment; look within for answers. We must be managers at home: develop a mindset of customizing your plans to achieve your goals. Delegate, outsource domestic work.

Enablers helping women today<
In IT and consulting firms, the management is sensitive to work-life balance. Many offer working out of home, flexitiming, or virtual teaming.

Work on Your Life as a Project
Dr. Deepa Bhide
Associate Medical Director

The journey
My parents are doctors, so it was natural l became one. I studied MBBS at Gandhi Medical College, Hyderabad. After my post-graduation in pediatrics, I practised for a decade as a pediatrician and neonatologist.

But I wanted to do more. IT was the buzzword then. So, I became a trainer with a company which did medical billing and coding, through an outsourced project on healthcare from U.S. Later, I led a knowledge process outsourcing engagement with a project in Denver, Colorado, U.S, involving 50 doctors. I learned to manage complex projects and issues around high-end resources. That’s when I got involved in project management. Getting myself certified as a PMP® in 2008, I was among the top few physicians with the certification.

Joining Cognizant as a domain expert, I was part of the center of excellence team in the healthcare business unit. I then worked with a couple of U.S. companies in the electronic health record area, interacting with the top-end of the chain. I trained healthcare and ancillary professionals to acquire the skills to work in sync with doctors in U.S.

I also brought out two papers: The first was “Patient care, a project management perspective.” I have a mapping of A Guide to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) to the actual life of a patient, something that Harvard Public Health looked at. I also conducted two webinars for PMI in 2011 September and December that were telecast globally. The second paper was “Project management for knowledge process outsourcing projects.”

I am now writing a paper on management for reducing patient re-admission. Using frameworks from fields like aviation and supply chain, I apply them to healthcare.

My achievements
A great achievement is when patients come to you, tears in their eyes, saying you helped me get better. Another is my paper on patient care.

Tips for women project managers
Ensure you have ancillary support so that you can focus on your career. Women must work at their own lives as a project. Born project managers, they manage projects, conceptualize them, focus on risk management, and scope and time management. They only need to hone these skills. Project management helps you focus, organize your work, understand risk and its mitigation, become disciplined, and avoid distraction. Also, project management is applicable to any field.

As for healthcare, health is a great enabler for women. ICT has been a great enabler: with technology, even women in rural areas receive health education. But there is much to be done at the grassroots for the ground staff. One can apply the project management framework here, too, to understand the scope, make the desired impact and deliver.

In a Man’s World
Ms. Amita Thakurdesai
Head - Planning, Monitoring, and Estimation
Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited

The journey
I got into this field by choice. Creating something new and the sheer volume of work involved attracted me to civil engineering. During the course, I was impressed by the different facets of projects and went on to do construction management. Starting my career in the country’s largest contracting company, I moved on to another infrastructure giant and now work with a developer. Experience in each company has been unique in itself: be it handling initial planning, resource allocation across 100 projects, cost and time monitoring, strategic planning, dealing with different aspects of projects worth more than Rs. 500 crore, to heading estimation and planning portfolio. I also wanted to do my bit for society by contributing towards building better infrastructure.

My achievements
I currently head estimating, planning, and monitoring in my organization. Being a woman and heading such a department is not easy. I started as an assistant engineer with Larsen & Toubro – Engineering Construction Company (L&T ECC). I was the first woman taken on board the construction wing. It was very challenging to work and prove myself in a male dominated industry. But sheer hard work and perseverance paid off. My confidence in my abilities helped, and when I faced roadblocks, I employed two strategies: refusing to take criticism and prejudice personally; and expanding my experience by accepting new challenges. I continue to do that today. I was also lucky to have had bosses who believed in my capabilities and never made me feel inferior to my male colleagues. Later, I looked after the resource department at L&T-ECC for its western region. Working in Hindustan Construction Company was different: handling large infrastructure projects from the corporate office for the first time was a new high. Involvement in the engineering marvel - the Bandra Worli Sealink, the Lavasa township, and handling the road portfolio from the monitoring cellare highlights of my career there. Working in a developer setup in Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited (my current employer) has also been a different experience.

Tips for women project managers
Hard work and passion are necessary to achieve your biggest dreams. Your social life will suffer at intervals, but remember your goals and understand that this is part of the journey. Do not shirk responsibilities. Focus is key. If you believe in something, others will, too.

Enablers helping women today
When I started 17-18 years ago, I was sometimes advised to rethink my choice of career. But over time, I enjoyed working with people who have started accepting the presence of women in this field. This indicates our society is evolving. That is a huge enabler, besides support from society, family, and associates.

Build on Knowledge
Ms. Shagufta Inamdar
Learning Consulting Head, Talent Transformation
Wipro Technologies

The Journey
My initial years were spent in handling various roles in training institutes. In one such premium institute, I was in charge of executing training programs, with 70 plus faculty members and multiple courses round the clock. Managing this manually was a herculean task. I was then exposed to MS Project, a planning and allocations tool which addressed all our concerns. This was the beginning of my association with project management. I started conducting sessions on project management concepts and tools and in parallel, completed my CAPM®, PMP® & PRINCE2 certifications. At Wipro Technologies, I have been holding the mantle for PMI Registered Education Provider initiative for the past seven years.

Currently, I manage the fresher induction program where 10,000-15,000 fresh graduates get trained annually. A complex set-up with 60 different types of programs, it works like a factory; my project management knowledge helps me execute it flawlessly.

My achievements
I am a member of the Champion Advisory Committee for PMI India’s Champion Program. I won the leadership excellence award from PMI India in August 2012. I have been an invited speaker in Reserve Bank of India and the National Institute of Banking Management; and have an excellent performance record and fast track growth in the current and previous organizations.

Tips for women project managers
Create a good support system for a work-life balance. Don’t try to be a super woman. Be confident, set clear goals. Update your knowledge. Men do a lot of this, women do not, as they are involved with family when free. Add on certifications and qualifications, if required. Adapt to the environment. Don’t give up, there’s always a way out. Don’t wait to get noticed, promote yourself. Take credit for your success. Make an effort to network.

Advice to women project managers
Capitalize on your strengths: Women are known to be good at multitasking, organization, and planning skills and detail. hese help you succeed.

Manage your team well: You are as good as your team. Understand your team members’ skills and utilize them appropriately, keep them motivated. Emotional intelligence and patience are key skills.

Add global accreditations: Ensure you have credentials in project management, a PMP®, PgMP® or PRINCE2, as seems suitable, adding weight to your profile. Giving you confidence, this is a testimony of your knowledge in the discipline, going beyond your experience.

Enablers helping women today
Many companies have diversity initiatives, and promote gender equality. Besides, HR policies have become more flexible offering half-day half-pay, extended maternity leave, crčches, and flexible working hours.

However, a lot of companies need to address these issues of women employees.

Bring Out the Best in the Team
Prof. Vanita Bhoola, PMP, PRINCE2
Assistant Professor, Project Management
S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research

Your insights into project management
As a faculty in project management, I have conducted programs to train project managers across various industries. The data of the past five years would show a near-flat curve in the growth of project management skills among women.

A majority of them are from the information technology, financial services, consumer goods, and healthcare sectors. In India, we do not find many women project managers in infrastructure or construction projects because of issues like safety, working late, and demanding onsite conditions.

Tips for women project managers
Discipline and adherence to all aspects of project management is crucial for a project to be called successful. It’s not only go-live, but long-term sustainability and maintenance which also speak of project quality.

Robust documentation forms a key part in making the project manageable, even after it is over and enhancements are needed. The integral planning and execution skills of women, plus negotiation and soft skills make them apt for project management roles. Courses such as PMI’s can add tremendous value to their careers. A project manager should constantly update her knowledge in project management.

Qualities in women project managers
Robust and clear documentation of the entire end-to-end project has been observed to be quite high among women. This helps in learning from mistakes and tracking projects to avoid mistakes in future.

Women are born multi-taskers and put in additional efforts which show in the final deliverable. Also good at using emotional connects, women help rally the team, and usually bring out the best in people.

Besides project management skills, women seem to excel in communication, motivating teams, and simplifying complexities in a project. Moreover, managers and organizations find it much easier to track their work due to their disciplined and sincere approach.

Recommendations to companies
In companies, HR needs to provide work from home, video conference facilities, etc.

Traditional male dominated industries such as mining, steel, and infrastructure projects must offer more incentives for women participation. Again, technology can play a key role: by not having the project team necessarily be on-site all the time. High definition video facilities are available on smartphones today. Leveraging advances in technology will change the paradigms of traditional project management: through flexible work timings, working from home, and the use of remote connectivity and smartphones.

Women project managers are generally more sensitive to social issues and aware about such dynamics. Organizations must have a strategy to have a healthy male-female ratio in project management roles. Sponsoring programs like PMI’s for women associates can motivate them to become project managers.

Relevance of project management
Project management has grown in the past five years in India. Organizations are accepting that there is a strong need for it. When recruiters hire from our institute, they insist on those with knowledge of project management.

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