Every Adversity is an Opportunity - Think Again

Automatic Summary

Turn Adversity into Opportunity with the Equation of Life

We're here with Hema, the Global Enablement Leader for Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. Hema has been with IBM for the last 15 years and today she'll share how an intriguing life equation has been useful in her journey, emphasizing how responses to life's adversities can lead to growth and opportunities.

This life equation simply states that our lives are filled with events to which we respond. These responses then result in specific outcomes. The key factor under our control is our response to each event. Our actions, attitudes, and effort shape our responses and, in turn, inspire new life courses.

The Multiphase Career Journey and U-Turns Towards Success

A look at Hema's career trajectory illustrates how she shifted from an HR trainee role to quality compliance in physical security to executive assistant and finally, to a role in the technical realm. These shifts, or "U-turns," often coincided with significant life events--from becoming a mother to entering the technology sector to dealing with the challenges of being a single mother.

Throughout these phases, her passion for dance remained constant, serving as a balancing force for her career and personal growth. This helps her manage adversity while celebrating her achievements and contributions to the tech world, gender equality, and women's advocacy programs.

Learning Takeaways for Career Advancement

  • Embrace change: Accepting change is a facet of growth; limitations only exist in our minds.
  • Trust and seek guidance: Have faith in yourself, ask for help when needed and see adversities as growth opportunities.
  • Keep a growth mindset: Don't see opposition as an offense, or personal failure; instead, view it as a cue that you're part of a meaningful conversation.
  • Remain accountable to yourself: We are all subject to making mistakes so be kind to yourself.

The Changing World: Technological Evolution and Women

With an increasing number of organizations transitioning their data from physical environments to the cloud, it's increasingly important to be technologically literate.

The future predicts a large shift towards public cloud, which emphasizes the need for women to engage in more techno-managerial roles as women currently hold very few STEM jobs compared to their representation in organizations.

Effective Adaption Strategies

To adapt to this change, the mantra should be – critical thinking, networking, seeking guidance, getting comfortable with unpredictability, branding your work, and maintaining a growth mindset. Equally important, do not forget the child in you – it's crucial to nurture your inner peace and take care of your personal health and well-being.

Our lives resemble a garland of flowers held together by a thread. This thread signifies inner peace and its strength determines how well we can perform our roles--in the same way, a loose thread can cause flowers to wither off.

Hence, just like the thread in a garland, we should take utmost care of our inner peace to harness the best version of ourselves, in the face of adversities.

Video Transcription

So uh good afternoon and good morning to many of you all who have joined me today. I'm uh Hema. I work as the Global Enablement leader for hybrid cloud infrastructure service.Uh with IBM, I have been with IBM for the past 15 years and uh in my role in my current role, I'm responsible for executing enablement and upskilling strategies for this practice across the program. So quickly, let's move on to what is the key takeaways that you're gonna do with every adversities and opportunity session? I think the key takeaway is you will be taking away an equation of life that has been very helpful for me and I'm sure that you would uh use it and you would recognize that as I take you through the session. So let's quickly move on. So what is that equation that I'm talking about? This is an equation that has always guided me throughout. And I think it's very simple. Your life has an event and Evan you have a response to that event and then you have an outcome because you responded to that event, you have um the only thing that you would actually control in the entire equation is the response part of it, you can't control the event, you can't control the outcome.

So the response part of it is dependent on how you act, your attitude towards it and the efforts that are required to actually give that response. So all these three parts, the response is under your control, play a major role in what you do in your day to day life and how your life itself takes its turns, right? So with that, we'll quickly move on. So I just wanted to give you a quick overview as to how my career moved. So I started as a hr trainee and I come from a very conservative family who never believed that a girl should go for jobs. Yes, I come from India. But things are slowly changing. The times that I started well. And then from there on, I started taking up roles which were more comfortable, more uh towards hr and more management roles that would give me the space of getting back home early, et cetera. I would never challenge myself enough. But one thing that I always used to do was I always kept my passion of dancing going on every time with that said I moved on to do a corporate um security which is to do with physical security. And as a girl, I never knew a management role would involve any kind of efforts from a physical security standpoint. But yes, there's a lot to learn in that department as well.

And I went there as a quality compliance, a person, the people you're seeing there is in then IBM uh who was Sam Palmisano and we have the 18th president of India, who was Abdul Kalam. Now I got the opportunity to meet them because I took that leap of faith to go into physical security as a quality analyst. And I realized that you could actually meet them much faster than otherwise, right? So it was a great opportunity for me to learn from them directly, their visions, etcetera. And then from there on, I moved up and took on some roles. I became a mob when I was a manager. And then that's when the turning point of my life happened. And that's why you see a triangle which is red. This is exactly where I moved into a technical role with a four month old baby. And that is exactly where my challenges started, where I had to learn the art of being a mother. I had to learn technology from scratch. I'm a background with hr so I found the world was all really given up on me. And then I realized I drew faith. I think anything you can achieve is by giving it that time. And I think over a matter of six months, I was able to crack that role and I traveled to UK and that's exactly my DP in UK. And I kind of service.

That account for close to seven years, I made very good friends, learned the art of collaborating, working with different cultures. And I think every time I took a u-turn in my career, there's always been a significant change and growth that came along. And that's where the executive assistant work happened, where out of um the executive group and learned quite a bit at that management level, what you get to learn and moved on to take more challenging efforts. The reason you see my son on my shoulders at that point in time, that's exactly when my life started to take another turn of me becoming a single mother. And that's where another challenge came in. And it was very crucial for me to start understanding how to bring myself back. And that's where I started my dancing back again. My life started to balance it off. And overall, I started doing many more activities and getting involved with more different uh technologies frames.

And I think it's all about how you respond to the adversity. When it comes to a situation, you need to call for it. And then I moved on to take various roles that would really complement my uh family and work life. And today I work extensively on women advocacy and programs. And moreover, I try to give it uh a section of my life to that side because I think it's the passion that I really want to contribute back to that culture. If you've really seen the chart, you'll see the u-turn, but you'll see those red arrows. Every one of us are gonna go through it. But what are my learnings throughout this things that I learned change is constant. You need to accept it. Limitations are what we develop in our minds. It's not the world around us who's putting those limitations, trust yourself more than anyone else. Because if you don't trust yourself, you don't know where you're gonna lead yourself into. Ask for help, ask for guidance. Look for every adversity you face and take it as a opportunity to grow. Do not feel uh criticized. Do not judge yourself. Give yourself a chance and convert every failure into a learning. That's where growth mindset comes in. Um Opposition is a cue when you get opposition on a board meeting, just be sure that you are having a meaningful discussion. That's why people are finding it um valued enough to challenge your points.

Do not take it as an offense of women especially and overall you are answerable only to yourself and you don't owe answers to anyone. So be kind to yourself and don't be judging yourself for almost everything that has gone wrong in your life. I think everybody have their chance to change and you have to give yourself that um change is great, just embrace it. It will open up a better version of you. And this is a saying that stuck on to me forever. And uh it has brought me to this far of being uh in technology of hybrid cloud infrastructure is because the faith that I never lost on all my failures, right? It was never easy, but I still wanted to move on. Um Where exactly is the world heading towards today? Now, that's a very important question we must ask. When you are a career oriented woman, you need to think about the present world conditions and not just be glued into your role or what you do. I think technology today is more, more and more centered to almost everybody's life today. And I don't want to campaign about that. You're aware about it. Pandemic proved its point very clearly. And uh we have to ensure that we are aligned and understand what exactly is running in the current career conversations that we have. So organizations, where are the organizations moving? All the organizations are transforming all the data from the physical environments are moving on to cloud.

So what does it tell you? It tells you that you need to be upbeat in your technology and understand almost everything at a bare minimum level, but go deeper. If you are interested in a specific technology, you really need to have a flavored understanding of almost everything that is coming through today to be more relevant in your job. And moreover, it is told that uh next 3 to 5 years, we will be moving 50% of our workloads into public cloud. So which is cheaper. So that's what companies are trying to do and negotiate. Now, what does it mean to me when it comes to this? Right, as the world is transforming through this um engineering and technology front, it's very important that we are always walking along with it and not let lost. Now, many people who are non technical and many people who are actually trying to be in a particular technology don't get too passionate about being comfortable in those place. Please try to feel uncomfortable of being comfortable, right? That's how I would say it. As soon as you are getting comfortable, it's time for you to change. That's, that's your cue.

And I think um the main roles today is that women are to make the 50% of the organization strength, but we are just 25% of them are literally sitting in the stem jobs and it's very low percentage today. And I think we should try to pursue to get into techno managerial roles, at least where you are in line with the technology that's coming up to ensure that you are uh significantly needed in the markets going forward. I think uh with that said, how can I adapt to this change and how can I make it successful? The mantra is very simple. Honestly, I think technology is not gonna hold you back. It's all about how open are you to learn. So, learning unlearning and relearning is the mantra. So you have to unlearn a lot and relearn. So you have to be a student throughout your life. That's what's gonna help you grow. Uh be aware of the changes around you by reading and networking. Networking in such forums like uh conferences is very critical and, and women coming together to do this is much, much more critical and hats off to women tech for doing this because we at India, reaching out to global, at this level would have not been possible with such kind of platforms never came forward.

So you should participate internal and external platforms. Ask for help and guidance. Have mentors and coaches, you have to choose your mentors internal to within your company or external. You should have some who really has the experience and gives you the knowledge to grow through that path and makes it easier for you. You can't make it there all by yourself and get comfortable with predictability. If you know, tomorrow this meeting, this is what's gonna happen and you know exactly how to cut the edge. Then I think it's time for you to look for a change and make yourself more um uh you know, challenged and that's where your growth really starts, right? Get to know unknown zones. The risk is worth it. I have gone into from hr to physical security to physical security to it, delivery it delivery to a client facing road deploying projects, which is of automation. My path was very unpredictable but it was worth the risk. Today, I find myself relevant in the roles that I'm doing and it's ok if you don't. But I think you need to pursue a line of technology as a part of your career path. It's ok to take IC role, IC role is independent, individual contributor role where you don't have a managerial uh weight on you, but it's perfectly fine. Sometimes it's important as women, we balance it out few years.

But when you are doing that, make sure you have a proper education path that you have created for yourself. So you become more relevant once you get into those uh high ended roles, that would give you that need of being there in the boardroom, right? Um Learn to brand your work, not yourself, your work should brand you. And I think when you work on those lines to an extent, yes. Uh the work will brand you and you become the brand. I think uh it works parallel and I think you need to put that effort to be present where it is rarely seen that people really go there, right? Um Have a growth mindset as I said, and I think this is the best part of my pitch today. Don't lose the kid inside. You don't forget everyone has a small kid who has been growing with you. Sometimes it's fine to go and hug him or her because it's important to feel grounded, relevant and comfortable with yourself and you don't expect others to do that. You are your best friend last but not the least. This is one of the uh lines from the VEDAS are in Indian scriptures. It talks about Pushpa Mali to Prasanna, Suu, sushi Dhara. What it means is every one of us are wearing garlands and each garland has been tied with uh a thread. No, nobody sees the thread. Everybody looks at the garland and the flowers. Each flower is a role that you play.

What happens is if the thread is a little loose, the flowers will wither off. What am I signifying here is the thread is your inner peace thread is your character thread is your strength. If you do not take care of your health, yourself, your inner peace, whatever roles you're doing, being a mom, being a boss, being a whatever other roles you're doing, it'll all just fall apart. It's up to you to hold this inner piece with you. And I think that is the quote in which I would like to uh close this session today and I'm really hoping for questions. I hope you found this session. Interesting. Yes, I had to kind of run through a little faster than before but um I'm happy to take any questions. I will leave my linkedin. Um uh you know, contact there in the chat. So please do reach out. Thank you. And I must stay from India.