Leave your comfort zone and never settle: Sree’s story

This International Women’s Day, we're celebrating our colleagues whose journeys #breakthebias.

SreeRanjini Venkat, or Sree, has never been afraid to put her hand up for various opportunities that came her way since she joined Standard Chartered in 2009. Starting as a contractor in the service desk, she worked her way up within the End User Services team, and then made the leap to Cyber Security Services, where she now works as the Access Management Process Governance Lead.

Don’t stop growing

I never thought I would be working in a bank or in IT as my background is in electrical engineering.

In fact, I took my first job in IT because I needed to work the night shift to care for my ailing mum at that time. She has since passed on, but she remains my biggest inspiration.

I joined Standard Chartered in 2009 as part of the End User Services team and have worked in a wide variety of roles, including service request management (SRM) operations, project management and governance.

After more than ten years in the same domain where I knew the work like the back of my hand, I asked myself: Am I learning? Am I doing something to enhance my skills? Am I making myself the best for the future?

I knew I had to push myself to do something new.

Today, I am the Access Management Process Governance Lead within Cyber Security Services, responsible for defining the process, controls and metrics within the Access Management space.

The role allows me to utilise the Operations Governance experience I have and is a gateway for me to move into a Risk and Control role in the future.

I’m in this position today because my hard work was recognised by my leaders, who supported and encouraged me. Whenever I raised my hand, I was given the opportunities to grow.

I have also pushed myself to develop in my career through learning. In IT, you need to upskill constantly to survive as the sector moves so fast. I hold certifications the likes of Lean It Foundation, Lean IT Kaizen and SDI (Service Desk Institute) Manager to keep my skills sharp and this is made possible with the help of the Bank’s learning programmes.

To be honest, when I first joined the Bank, I was cautioned by well-meaning friends that my career will “end” here. I didn’t understand what they meant at that time, but now I do - that I will have so many opportunities to grow within the Bank, I won’t want to look elsewhere.

Focusing on things that can be changed

My upbringing in India was a little different than most – I was brought up to be bold and confident. In that sense, my drive to push myself further comes from my mum.

My mum taught me to plan for the future, and was always so resourceful even though she had little education. From knitting to cooking to drawing, she learnt everything through networking and self-motivation.

Similarly, when there’s a crisis, I go into problem-solving mode instead of panicking. I don’t believe in reacting to things you cannot control and instead focus on things I can change. Even now, when there’s a bad situation, I ask myself two questions: What do I do next? What would my mum do next?

What breaking the bias means to me

Breaking the bias, to me, is a choice. We need to move out of our comfort zone and see what we can do to improve in our lives. In every single area of your life, you can find something to improve – I don’t believe there is a limit to how good you can be.

If you don’t like something, move or change your situation. I believe that learning is the best way to gear myself up for the future, and it keeps me moving. In my career here, I learn every single day.

I’m ambitious, but I have simple goals. I want to give my six-year-old daughter a better future and pay back society for all the good that I’ve received. I hope she fights for what she believes in and never settles for second best.