PM Guest Article

The Two Sides of Coin – Introspect and Unleash

Bhuvaneswari, PMP

Bhuvaneswari (also called Bhuvana) is a PMP certified project manager for 9+ years. She currently works for Jubilant Chemsys Limited. Her hobbies are singing, writing, and driving. She is a big supporter of empowering women.

Introduction

In a county like ours which has traditionally been a male dominated one, the concept of women empowerment, recognition, and acceptance of talent at the workplace are still matters of concern. There isn’t any use in blaming the corporate culture when our socio economic contributions are still grounding our motherland to its conventional thought processes.

There is not a domain today that is unexplored by women. In spite of inherent management abilities, have you wondered what makes the life of a woman project managers so challenging? My experiences so far say that part of the problem could be because we think too much about others than ourselves!

Deep dive into the reality

From among a thousand women, only a few women become a project manager amidst the heavy competition around. Women are born with certain key managerial skills that can give them a head start at the workplace. How many of us women can actually say that we benefitted from these skills and were able to climb up the corporate ladder?

Women face several issues at the workplace. Issues like gender inequality, male domination, equal pay, etc. Despite all of those, when I look back at my own challenging times at the workplace, I realised that there are few good things within us as a woman that actually seem to often work against us.

Women are more sensitive than men, is a fact. But have we ever realised how our sensitivity boomerangs on us in a highly dynamic profile like project management? This being a profession that is largely people oriented, we are easily victimized on sensitivity grounds which we often wrongly perceive as being empathetic. This attitude of over sensitivity may look beneficial in the beginning of the career, however if we dwell a little on the impact, we often realize how it seems to trap us in our own goodness.

Then there is the inability of saying NO. Perhaps, that’s how we were conditioned by our upbringing – to be more accommodative as women. The sad part is that our elders who taught us all those good behaviours never once educated us on to say NO.

Passion, while being the real motivator or the fire within every human being, is equally capable of being a drain on oneself if not handled well. As women, we go the extra mile to prove ourselves at work. A project manager, unlike other professionals is expected to be available round the clock. In a country like India, where the servicing sector is predominant, project managers are working during odd hours to cater to the rest of the world, and there is no exception here for women. Ironically, women project managers in the rest of the world are allowed to stick to their work hours and time zones. Though, I agree that the expectation in India is partly due to the nature of work, we ladies go crazy to complete the task and don’t realise how madly we stretch ourselves juggling between the kitchen, kids, and emails.

All these introspections also made me analyse why we allow ourselves to be exploited at work?

Is it due to the social systems? Corporates are also a part of the same society that we live in and the employees are like relatives, except for not being as personally connected. Our thought processes are nurtured by our family members and community we grew up in. What a child sees in its family is what it gets inside his/her mind. A dominant father and a submissive mother running a family yields to a similar outcome. What is not visible to the child is the tear the mother sheds to keep the marriage alive and the family protected. Pampering a son more than a daughter is certainly going to impact both their lives. A girl who is taught to adjust beyond what’s needed, will continue to behave the same way at work.

While our country is trying to progress towards a better economy, we still have a huge percentile of population in poor income groups. Girls in these families, howsoever well they perform in their studies or career, aren’t allowed to go beyond a point and are married away by their parents as the society still believes that a girl child is expensive to raise and unsafe to remain unmarried beyond an age! Project managers are at a higher risk of facing the heat of such situations for the fact that we need to be interacting across all walks of the organisation from vice presidents to new hires and trainees.

How useful are the educational systems? Sadly, there is no curriculum even in this age that teaches value systems, behaviour, and ethics. And the list goes on and on.

Realisation

After having experienced several roller coaster rides at the work place, I have changed my perspective. I learnt to look at both the sides of a coin to stay focussed on my passion and peacefully succeed without compromising much. Often, we are the reason for the craziness in life. We may not be able to change our societies. But what we can do is change our perceptions and responses. When we have a history where women have delivered multiple children and can still stay in good shape, delivering 50 projects while dealing with 500 different people should be a cake walk! Perhaps, this is why they call project management a glossy and glamorous role!!! Let’s unleash this glamour within us and shine like the stars in the sky in spite of the dust in the universe.