Looking for that perfect balance

RIGHT MANAGEMENT: Dr Madhavi regularly conducts workshops on role balancing for women.

When Dr C V Madhavi designs and conducts workshops in Role Balance for Women Executives teaching them how to successfully juggle the roles of careerperson, wife and mother, she does so from personal experience. Madhavi who is married to a chartered engineer and a mother of two very young children is –– at the relatively young age of 39 –– Senior Professor and Director of Centre for Organization Development (COD) in Hyderabad.

Moreover,  she is working in an area into which not too many women venture. Madhavi is a management researcher, trainer and consultant which is not a very common job profile for a woman. It is more common to find women studying and/or teaching management.

She is author of a book Management of Change in SAIL (Sage Publications), based on her doctoral dissertation. She is also readying two more manuscripts for publication –– on Women in IT and another on the turnaround of a refinery in Mangalore. Besides publishing papers in journals and making presentations at conferences in India and abroad, Madhavi is also executive committee member of TIE, Hyderabad; and Executive Member, Hyderabad Management Association.  For all this, surprisingly, Madhavi initially had no ambitions for this career-path or field. Her area of interest was Sociology and she did her M.Phil from University of Hyderabad (Central University) on Pollution and its impact on social relationships. After that, she decided to do acquire some work experience before embarking on the next logical step of a doctorate in sociology. So she joined COD, but there she found herself drawn into the institute’s focus areas of organisation development and under the then-director Dr B L Maheshwari she began her doctoral studies on a management topic.

Along the way, she found the subject of management research, training and consultancy fascinating and resolved to make a career of it. So, she stayed on and went on to become a Research Associate, an Assistant Professor and then Professor, to finally where she is now. When you tell her she is doing a successful job of role balance, she says: “One can balance career aspirations and family commitments, if one plans and organises one’s life. Moreover, we of this generation have many role-models of women who are simultaneously successful in careers and on the home-front. This was unlike working women in the 1960s and ‘70s who really had to struggle hard –– they had few precedents or successful examples to look up to and emulate,” she points out.

She says that many women who have plenty of talent and skills give up on careers, either in the beginning or midway, either because of pressure from the family (in-laws, husband typically) or because they feel guilty of neglecting the home in the process of meeting meet workplace challenges. It is a pity that so much potential in our women is, therefore, not being realised. There is a need, thus, for family members to be more understanding and encouraging of a wife/mother/daughter-in-law who is also working outside the home, she says.

However, Madhavi emphasies that if a woman willingly and happily gives up career for being a fulltime homemaker that is also laudable since such a woman too is exhibiting independent thinking and freedom of choice and going for what makes her feel happy and fulfilled.

So, what’s her own recipe for success? Woman or man, there is a general rule for success––commitment to purpose, she answers. “Once you have commitment to a goal, you will set about acquiring everything needed for your success –– skills, degrees, information, people-network, support-systems… whatever is needed to achieve your aim or target.” She adds that she received unstinting support from her mentor and guide Dr Maheshwari.

Now that she has got the top job and is also busy being mother, wife, daughter and daughter-in-law, does she have any other targets? Madhavi replies: “My goal is to make my institution better-known and respected than it now is, and to make it a centre for excellence in its focus area of organisation development.”

What, no personal goals? She laughs and says: “I have learnt Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi and also given a few performances as a teenager but I always wanted to learn Carnatic vocal music too. I hope to find time for that pursuit and also for my dream vacation to Antarctica.”

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