A fast career trajectory: Vijaya Shanthi’s story

It might have taken six years from finishing her engineering degree to starting her career, but once Vijaya Shanthi got going, there was no stopping her.

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I come from an orthodox Indian family, born and raised in Vizag, South India. Although a bit unusual for my generation girls, I was married when I turned 18 to the son of a childhood family friend as both the families decided we were perfect for each other (and our matching horoscopes were an extra push!). However, I laid down a condition that I would stay at my mom’s for the next three years to finish my degree in Engineering.

Luckily, both sides of the family realised the importance of my studies and encouraged me in every single way, instead of pushing me to move to Singapore to live with my husband. Of course, the next three years were spent juggling between my duties as a student, wife and a dutiful daughter-in-law! It wasn’t easy…

In the final year of my degree, I got pregnant with my first son, Tej. He was born just before my final exams, but I still managed to score a distinction! All those late nights of studying paid off indeed. After completing my degree, I moved to Singapore where we had our second son, Anuj a couple of years later.  Having two toddlers kept me on my toes all day long and while my classmates were busy pursuing their Masters or handling new jobs, I was busy changing diapers. Of course, I consciously chose to be a stay-at-home mom so that I could be there for both my sons in the first few years of their lives. Needless to say, my career needed to wait a little longer.

After a few years in Singapore and USA subsequently, we decided it was time to move back to India so that I could pursue my career back in my home country. My boys were now at school and I realised this was my time. I applied for a junior role as a technical writer at the Innovation Lab in Scope International, Chennai. It was intimidating indeed because I hadn’t done anything for myself since my studies, so I felt I had a lot to prove.

Fast forward eleven years, and I’ve enjoyed so many different opportunities to make up for the lost time. I’ve found there are always open doors available to you and I’ve raised my profile with senior management several times, which is a great reflection on the culture within the organisation. Spurred on by my time blogging in California, I now specialise in communications, employee engagement and business planning within the T&I world, and more specifically within the Core Infrastructure Services (CIS) team.

 

I’ve found there are always open doors available to you and I’ve raised my profile with senior management several times, which is a great reflection on the culture within the organisation.

The last three years were especially amazing with two back-to-back promotions and exciting roles to match up with them. I also upskilled myself continuously by attaining certifications in PSM (Professional Scrum Master) and LUMA HCD (Human Centre Design) recently, which I am blessed to put them to use in my daily work. I am also passionate in Diversity and Inclusion and have been working closely within CIS and the wider organisation to drive the D&I agenda for the Bank.

Now that my teenage boys do not need as much time and attention of mine as earlier, I am focusing on self-development and learning to be a coach in the new year. Wish me luck!

I’m proof that if you’re brave and hang on to your dreams, it doesn’t matter when you start your career.  All that matters is what you put into it.