Dream Big and Go For It!
My first piece of advice to all women is to dream big and then go for it! Where I grew up there really weren’t any role models of women who worked. If you told me when I was 10 years old and cycling 24 miles to get to my school every day that I would be where I am now, I would have laughed. Just trying to get an education was a challenge, so the idea that I could one day pursue a career, let alone become a senior leader, was almost unimaginable.
But when I joined Hindustan Unilever (HUL) as one of a handful of women among 15,000 men, I wrote my own vision; I wanted to be the HR director for the company. I remember my colleagues laughing at this dream—after all, no woman had ever reached that position. But I soon learned that others may laugh at your dreams all they like; it can’t stop you from going after them. I was 36 when I became HR director at HUL.
Of course, I didn’t get there all on my own. I have had wonderful mentors through the years, both male and female. Behind every successful woman is a network of people who have helped her to get to where she is. So my second piece of advice is to invest in these friendships and relationships, ask for help and support, and offer the same help and support yourself.
Breaking glass ceilings is a privilege, but it is also a responsibility. I have met this responsibility through a deep sense of personal purpose. I want to ignite the human spark in everyone—to build a better business and a better world. And as part of that, I have set myself the goal to inspire a million women.
And that is my third piece of advice: Find your purpose in life and then stay true to it. Use it as your guiding star to move forward in your career. Knowing my purpose in life has allowed me to forge a career that is truly meaningful to me. And when you know and understand what really makes you tick, what really gets you up in the morning, what feels authentic to you, you can achieve great things.
So, dream big, nurture your network, find your purpose, and then, make it happen!