Kalpana Balasubramanian, CEO of Grant Thornton dGTL, shares her thoughts in an interview with YouStory journalist as part of the 100 Emerging Women Leaders series.
Kalpana B. has a career that spans over two decades. A Business Management graduate from the Harvard Business School, Massachusetts, she has worked with global accounting and IT consultancy firms. Kalpana says, at one point in her career, she used to juggle multiple roles, professionally and personally. But during an interaction with a professor, she realised that being a jack of all trades need not necessarily guarantee success. “I met a professor who told me that I need not be good at all things. If you need to succeed, you just need to synchronisation of your conversations, actions, and behaviour. I feel that many times we try to juggle different things, but it is alright to focus on one particular thing in one quadrant of your life. So, to my utter horror and fascination, I discovered that it is ‘work-life integration’ and not ‘work-life balance’ that is important,” she says.
“As women, we never pause,” says Kalpana. “We are always on one treadmill called ‘home’, and then, we want to jump to another called ‘work’. We want to excel at both of them. That’s when I learnt the value of personal goals, and mine was to run my own company someday, just like my father,” says Kalpana. She also highlights that accepting and recognising the conscious and unconscious biases against women is an important step to deal with it. “Each of us has a bias. When we meet people for the first time, we quickly make assumptions. But if we just pause and think, we can deal with a lot of these biases,” she adds. According to Kalpana, dealing with biases in business requires inclusivity of diversity. Advising women leaders, she says, “Make sure you have people in the team from diverse backgrounds and genders. Don’t just focus on diversity alone, but make sure you are including this diverse population while making important decisions.”