Recently we got an opportunity to interact with Ashlesha Kadam, who is a graduate of IIM Bangalore. She has worked for organizations like Amazon, Aditya Birla Group and Cisco Systems. Let us hear from her, her interesting career journey:
1.) Describe the “woman” Ashlesha Kadam.
Well, I'd like to describe Ashlesha as a woman who believes that women can have it all. She loves taking on new challenges at work and toiling relentlessly towards them. She loves spending time trying to learn cooking new dishes at home with her husband. She enjoys taking up ambitious targets at work. She loves visiting her parents during festivals. She loves curling up with a book in a corner of her room for hours sometimes. She loves meeting new people, old friends and chai :)
2.) You were with Cisco systems as a software developer, what encouraged you to take-up a completely different career path?
I was a developer in the network security domain at Cisco Bangalore. While I used to love my work and workplace, the lack of getting to see the impact of my work immediately on people was what first got me thinking about whether I need a change in my career. I spoke to my close friends and family. I spoke to a lot of people in different roles internally in Cisco. I think talking to different people really helps one in getting different perspectives about things. One person I met in particular in Cisco, Savita Kini, was one of the only two solutions marketing manager in Cisco India. I happened to attend a session where she spoke about her career path. I was very impressed! Here's a woman who has not decided to be any less ambitious or compromise on her personal or professional life. I dropped her a mail just after the session asking her for a few minutes of her time. We met over coffee and she opened up the window of the endless opportunities that an MBA can offer. That was when I decided to research more into post MBA opportunities and ultimately ended up doing my MBA from IIM Bangalore.
3.) How did you manage to prepare for exams while working on hectic schedules?
After deciding on preparing for the CAT, I had a look at the curriculum and spoke to a few friends who had cracked the exam previously. I realized that I would need a brush up of my basic math concepts and then regular practice. However, I was also working at that time and it seemed difficult as to how to prepare for an exam alongside my job. I decided to join Byju's coaching class, which at that time, demanded only 4 hours of one's time on Sundays. I would dedicate my weekdays to work and weekends to the CAT. I also joined TIME's test series because it would help me benchmark myself with the other candidates preparing earnestly for the exam.
I must also be candid in admitting that I had a very supportive manager. After I got my CAT results and interview calls from the IIMs, I went up and spoke to my manager about not giving me any crucial work for the coming one month since I would need time off for my preparation.
4.) What changed in your life after you graduated from IIM Bangalore? Is there any change in stress level with the new job?
Yes :) There is definitely a change I perceive in the stress levels in my pre-MBA and post-MBA jobs. The work I do now shows immediate impact and I deal with multiple stakeholders. Hence, all the work needs to be done smartly, quickly and correctly. But the kind of rush I feel in my work now is something I hadn't experienced in my coding job. Doing an MBA is one decision that I shall never regret.
5.) What do you love the most about your work?
What I love the most about my work is that the impact of it is immediately seen and felt. The e-commerce space is very fast paced and ever changing and one needs to be on one's feet all the time to quickly adapt and respond to the ever-changing regulations, customer demand, internal and external stakeholder wants, etc. It also allows me to not just be limited to my scope of work but always makes me see the bigger picture of what the organization as a whole is trying to achieve. It involves getting so many parties - marketing, supply chain, account managers, tech team, etc. to work in sync. I love talking to different people, using even incomplete data that's available and getting work done in time. As I said, it feels very exhilarating to achieve one's objectives and not feel dejected but take up every failure as a challenge.
6.) What are your words of advice to an aspiring candidate ?
Don't hesitate to go after your dreams. And never think it is too difficult or too late for anything. Be optimistic. You'll never know what you could have achieved if you never give it a try. If someone has done it, you can too. If no one has, you go out there and be the first :)
7.) What does woman empowerment mean to you?
An empowered woman according to me is one who takes charge of her life, makes her decisions, holds herself responsible for all consequences and has no regrets. We are fortunate to have been born at a time and in a place where no one can stop you from chasing your dreams just because of your gender. Women are breaking all stereotypes today.