“An Ode to women of Substance” – Parul Gupta
Voylla.com has started a special 7-part series celebrating women hood. In this we will feature one influential woman every day. Here these ‘women of substance’ will share their achievements, their challenges and also a word of advice for all budding women entrepreneurs and leaders
Parul Gupta – Cofounder at Mysliderule.com
Q: Every women dreams to be successful and famous. You are someone who has managed to create a niche for yourself, so please share how was your journey so far? The Challenges & the Achievements?
My journey has been like a roller-coaster ride, with highs and lows alike, but without a dull moment ever. I don’t think I can call myself “successful” yet, but I have done a lot of things and some of them have gone well :-) I studied engineering from IIT Bombay and University of California, Los Angeles, worked in Ittiam Systems and IBM Research in core technical roles and recently started SlideRule with the goal of facilitating lifelong learning amongst college students and professionals. In addition to my technical career, I have passionately worked for IIT Bombay alumni activities and social impact.
Achievements – I have been fortunate that my contributions in all three areas of my work have been recognized. I am a recipient of the MIT Technology Review Young Innovators Award 2013, the IIT Bombay Distinguished Service Award 2012 (the first woman recipient) and the Foundation of Youth Social Entrepreneurship (FYSE)’s Young Changemaker award in 2009.
Challenges – surviving everyday ;) Jokes apart, there are many challenges at every step in life, but the biggest ones for me have been – 1) When I had to quit my PhD for family reasons 2) When my son was born – adjusting to a new life and a new sense of self, and not letting my work derail was a big challenge for me.
Q Its said that we should keep on striving for more because if we stop we stagnate, so what is the next milestone you are aiming for?
Currently, my focus is to build SlideRule into a tool that helps many many people in their learning journey.
Q: I think most of the women have faced this challenge of maintaining a perfect balance between work-life & personal-life. So, we will like to know how you strike a balance between the two?
I haven’t quite mastered it yet, I am still learning and trying :-) I think there are two important principles –
1. Don’t feel guilty about home when you are at work, and don’t let work make you guilty during your personal time. Both are essential. It is usually the lack of separation and perpetual guilt that sucks the joy out of both.
2. Recognize priorities and adapt – There will be times when your family needs your time more and your work will suffer. Similarly, there will be times when you are working long and hard on deadlines and there will be very little personal time. As long as you are sure that you are giving time to what’s most important right now, it averages out in the long term.
Q: There are so many budding women entrepreneurs and leaders you are trying to make it big, any word of advice for them?
I would like to share the following from my own experience:
1. There is no substitute to hard work: Rewards will come long after you have put in the best of your efforts. Keep working hard for what you believe, without any expectation of rewards and they will come when you least expect them. For each of my awards, I had put in 5-10 years before I got them.
2. Don’t go it alone: Your success is never solely your own, but the combined contribution of many people around you. At work there will be your champions, your mentors, people you learn from. At home, there will be your parents, your spouse, even all kinds of domestic help who have made it possible. So invest in those relationships, reach out for help and pay it forward when the time comes
3. Don’t overburden yourself with expectations: We as women tend to subject ourselves to unreal expectations. We want to be the supermom, the perfect cook, keep myriad social obligations, keep a great house and look great, all while having a stellar career. You can’t have it all – pick the one or two that are most important to you, focus on them and leave the rest!