|“The way I run my office I run my home. I don’t see any difference between office and home” Vijayalakshmi Vishwanathan, chief marketing officer, NIS Sparta Ltd|
No doubt, it is her academic background that helped foster the vibrant Ms Vishwanathan to excel in her career. An engineer from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai, and a gold medalist from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi, she also holds a masters degree in sociology.
Beginning her career as a product executive at Asian Paints in 1985, Ms Vishwanathan enjoys the credit of being the third lady to be recruited by Asian Paints. “Paints is basically a conservative business where you have cut-throat competition. It’s solely and surely a man’s world,” .
About her stint in the paints industry, she says, “I was taken as a test case keeping in mind only my good academic credentials. My job required me to work in a metro and at times in upcountry areas. Working in Mumbai was a good experience, but in conservative upcountry areas I faced a lot of problems.”
She also took a break from work to raise her first child. After that, she joined Funskool India, a joint venture between MRF and Hasbro, one of the leading toy manufacturers in the world, as a product manager and rose to the position of a group product manager.
When her second baby came, she restricted her a work time to just 3-4 hours a day. She opted for research-oriented task in MODE Research. Here she worked for about a couple of years before taking up full-time employment and went on to head the social research division of MODE. This stint saw her working on issues like women’s empowerment, AIDS education, primary education and issues pertaining to rural communication, nutrition and government policies. “ I really enjoyed my stint, working with funding agencies,” reminisces Ms Vishwanathan.
About her future plans, she is quite optimistic about growing at NIS. “I want to try a system where working mothers can put in few hours or few days in a month. No doubt these are typical women problems but we need to do something for the committed lot,” says Ms Vishwanathan.
On whether she has faced any gender bias in her professional journey, she says she is no longer gender conscious.
Ms Vishwanathan is quite determined to work and sees it as a necessity in today’s world. “A woman is not left with any choice. All women have to work. They have no option. If you are not working you are missing out on the ability of 50 per cent of the working population.”
She accepts that it is a constant struggle for women and one should not lose perspective. At this point of time she seems to have overcome all the hurdles in her career and is constantly working towards her goal. “My children are grown up and over the years the constant juggling has made me strike a balance between my traditional family life and work.” Ms Vishwanathan seems to have worked out a future for her children as well. “I want my children to go abroad for higher studies. They should do things what I could not do.”
Apart from personal and professional life, Ms Vishwanathan manages to find enough time to pursue her favourite pastime-Carnatic music. She enjoys writing and regularly contributes to and edits NIS’s inhouse magazines ‘Custamax and Ideas Online.’ She has travelled extensively within the country as well as abroad.
Ms Vishwanathan also adopts her professional standards at her home. “The way I run my office I run my home. Whatever business management skills I practice in office, I adopt the same tactics at home. I don’t see any difference between office and home,” adds Vishwanathan.