When my career was taking off and being offered leadership opportunities, I went on maternity leave for almost 8 months. Later, when I resumed work, my husband was overseas and my health was not at its best stage. It was a big adjustment being a new mother dealing with sleepless nights and working full time, managing both client and team following India-US time zones.
I remember those early days, I never felt like I had the right balance between work and home. Sometimes I felt like I was only half present both at work and at home. But I knew that this was not only me. It’s a challenge for working mothers everywhere.
Fortunately, with immense support from family and colleagues, I have been able to find ways to keep the work-life balance. My daughter is now seven and I am glad that I can be part of her little achievements while working hard enough to reach career goals.
“Never” is never
I started my career as a software engineer providing business solutions using various cutting-edge technologies. Over the 12 years of journey, I discovered my passion for data and providing business insights which came from my academic background in mathematics, statistics and computer science.
While working on the Rugby Union data analytics project, my organisation leader offered me an opportunity to shift my career from software engineering to data science. I grabbed this opportunity without a second thought. It was a big move that I would have expected from myself within the same organisation. It was a challenging beginning working in a completely different domain, however, I am glad that I took this big step and able to create my own space in the field.
My advice to all mums returning to work
I learnt from my mum that it’s important to speak up and don’t be shy. Unless people know you’re struggling, they won’t be able to help you. If you feel that you need work flexibility at work, talk to the right people in your organisation and accept help. Motherhood is a blessing; enjoy it thoroughly with all the available support around you.
Sometimes I see women returning to work and not feeling confident because they feel that, with technology changing so fast, they are no longer up-to-date with skills in demand. Also, it’s easy to think, “Oh no. I’ve forgotten everything.”
But it’s important to shift the attitude and be brave. It’s just about accepting the challenge, being organised and confident. Throw yourself into the project that comes to you. Everything will start coming back in a few days, because you never forget anything. If you feel your skills are a bit rusty, ask for training.
Having a childcare centre close to work is very helpful. When your baby gets sick and you get that phone call in the middle of a meeting, it’s so much harder when they’re far away. It creates a lot of drama and stress.
Don’t forget to stay healthy. This may be one of the hardest things to do, but it’s the most important. Maintaining good health and positivity reduces half of the challenges coming your way.