Where the world is her family

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Where the world is her family

Deepthi M R meets Soundarya Rajesh – wife, mother, teacher, entrepreneur – whose philosophy in life is helping her scale new heights and empower other women as well.

When the world is your family, your work becomes easy. Simply because you are working for your family, for your own people - a concept that the hindu mythology preaches and Soundarya Rajesh follows. Soundarya is a homemaker, teacher, entrepreneur and mother.

Like most Indian women, her duty towards her family is of utmost importance, but everything else is no less important. How she balances her life, accommodating everyone and making time for herself is something she has learnt over the years. But she strongly feels that Indian women need to find jobs, which help them with flexible timings to work, earn and be equal in the society. And this is precisely what Soundarya is trying to do with her firms.

The Chennai-based entrepreneur talks about her life, career choices, the path she found and made for herself, and more. Soundarya is the founder-president of
AVTAR Career Creators, AVTAR Human Capital Trust and Flexi Careers India - the three organisations she currently runs.

Combined effort

What was it that made her begin her own company? The big step, she says,
happened as a result of various forces that came together – an inspiration derived from her father, the support and motivation from her husband, a dire need for the women of this country to get a voice to help them lead sustainable careers and her own personal story, that brought her to crossroads where she found that entrepreneurship was the only answer.

Soundarya’s flair to manage it all and pull it off gracefully comes naturally to her.
“Since childhood, I have learnt that your family is everything. And the neat part about this is, you can include the whole world in your family – Vasudhaiva kutumbakam!

Even today, not just my biological family, even my colleagues are like family to me. Their needs – emotional, intellectual and economic - are as critical to my own sense of balance as are the requirements of my son or daughter,” she says.

Surely enough, all this comes with strong will, a discipline and practice over time. “At the time when I was setting it up (Avtar Career Creators) in 2000, the only issue I faced was managing my time. I had two small children; I lived in a joint family and had several responsibilities not only towards my own family, but outside of home as well.

Constant evaluation of priorities, managing time precariously and living by a planner were the things I did. This rigorous discipline to manage my many worlds was what was difficult initially,” she says.

‘Karma is real’

She exudes confidence as she talks passionately about her organisations. “I am deeply spiritual. I also believe in the Hindu philosophy of karma. I am of the firm opinion that every action, event and happening is pre-destined.

However, making it work to the extent that you want is entirely in your hands. Sounds contradictory? That is life!”

And so, with this experience, she set forth to help women find flexible jobs that can help them grow. “I often say, flexibility is the oxygen of women’s careers. Women require flexibility to handle both their worlds. They need to have that elbow room to do all that they can to be successful, sustainable and more importantly, peaceful,” she adds.

Soundarya strongly feels that a woman is suited to be an entrepreneur. She says, “I believe a woman is tailored to be an entrepreneur in many ways. Her innate ability to multi-task, to be inclusive, to feel that guilt which surfaces when not everyone’s voice is heard, her right-brainness - it’s a complete package. All I would say is, just keep at it. Don’t give up.

Entrepreneurship is not about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it is a
beautiful walk down a rainy cloudy avenue watching the rainbow taking shape. It’s about creating something, which did not exist before – something that every mother is familiar with.”

In a world where gender sensitivity has become a crucial debate, Soundarya is a silent field worker. Her mission is to create a gender-balanced world in which women can lead lives that allow them to bethemselves. “That helps them rise to their fullest potential and makes the workplace a level playing field,” she maintains.

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