>I’m in

Shikha Sharma’s winning career mantras

‘I’m in.’ is a D&I initiative which helps the Mahindra Group meet the needs of its stakeholders by enabling people and communities. The inaugural leadership chat show of I’m in. featured Shikha Sharma, an Independent Director on the Board of the Mahindra Group and Tech Mahindra, in conversation with Shalini Kamath, Chief Ethics Officer, Mahindra Group.

Here’s a look at Shikha’s critical lessons that she has learned along the way.

On life:

  • Don’t stress over things that you don’t have control over: Accept that you can do certain things in life and there are things that you don’t have control over. Believe in destiny and always say: “What I can do, I will do, and what I can’t control, I will not worry about.”

  • Don’t fear starting anew, that will build resilience

  • Do your best no matter what life throws at you: You can’t afford to sulk over things that don’t go your way or as per your plans. Take it a day at a time, give your best and the future will unfold.

  • Be a student for life: Keep learning. Don’t let inertia set in and don’t rest on your laurels, keep going.

  • Never try to be somebody else: Or like anyone else. Learn skills from others but stay yourself. Select friends who will like those things about you. In trying to be someone else, you lose productivity.

On career:

  • Building support groups: Have mentors to learn from and a group of peers who are friends. Peers will not only help you learn but will also give you a shoulder to cry on. Whatever is bothering you, spill it out and move on.

  • You always need a network to succeed: Today’s world is complex, you can’t do it all by yourself. Friendships are critical, but don’t go out of the way to fit in. Create groups with relevance, similarities.

  • Speak up when you have a point — don’t do it because you have to: Don’t let it pressure you. When asked a question, speak your mind.

  • It’s not a great idea to publicly disagree with your boss: As you grow older, the one thing you learn is that there is never a ‘right’ answer. It’s one point of view versus another. It’s a good idea to say, “Should we also think about this?”

  • Explain what you bring to the table and what you expect: While negotiating money, not being able to present your point of view can become a handicap. Frame your conversation properly. Develop the ability to have the conversation.

  • If you feel you are not being heard – explain: It can happen to a man or a woman. It is perfectly legit to talk to the person later and explain your point or write it down and send it across.

On Family:

  • Your spouse’s and your values should align: Marry right. If you are ambitious, the right partner is what you need. Also, be aligned on what risks in life you want to take and what you will never risk.

  • Don’t feel guilty for leaving children at home: Leaving a crying child at home to go to work can make you miserable — don’t quit but get help. When the kids grow up, let them know that even though you’re spending time at work, they are also important to you. Sit and have conversations with them.

  • Get good domestic help: Treat them like family so that they really care for your child. Help them improve their life. As your income increases, increase their income so that they will help you grow.

  • Don’t settle for less after returning from maternity leave: You don’t want to leave your child at home to go to unsatisfying work. Make your organisation understand that you can take up challenging projects and prove it.

Career, be it for women or men, is all about making choices as per your priorities. As Shikha mentions, “Have your priorities clear and your values in place. All the other decisions will fall in place.”

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