Chemical Engineer Supraja Ramachandran moved around the world gaining experience as a professional. A chemical engineer, Supraja worked across Europe and the United States for several years, eventually working her way up to a managerial role at a Fortune 500 company. However, her urge to gain another professional degree in management made her adamant to pursue an MBA in the US.
Supraja wrote her GMAT exam when she was six months pregnant with her daughter. While she worked hard through the entrances, she couldn’t bag a spot in the top US business schools. She became a mother, and while she kept her dream aside for a while, it was her strength as a mother that once again motivated her to try again. She moved to India, left her high-paying job, and worked at her dream again, this time for an Indian B-school.
In an interview with SheThePeople, Supraja Ramachandran talks about her ambitions, her motherhood experience, what made her chase her dreams that once seemed less, and why she aims to have the best of all worlds.
Supraja Ramachandran Interview
What pushed you to pursue MBA yourself?
MBA was a long dream for me ever since I completed my studies ten years ago. I always had this burning desire to further my career and grow into a successful person by completing my MBA. IIMA happened at the right time and I am proud of being a part of one of the most prestigious Institutes in the country.
How did you navigate motherhood and the challenges that came with making decisions like this one?
It was extremely challenging. It took a lot of sacrifices and while I did place my goals as secondary when I entered into motherhood, the support system I had, especially from my parents and my sister, gave me the confidence that I could multitask as a mother. Pursuing my dream and doing well in that meant establishing a better future for my daughter. This is how I multitasked and navigated through all the sacrifices I have made so far.
You have also worked across organisations as a woman in STEM. What has impacted your growth most as a professional?
Something that has impacted my career growth so far as a professional is the ability to take on challenges, never shying away from them, no matter how hard the challenges may seem to be. The way I have learnt to multitask and prioritise has helped me leapfrog my career. The second thing that has been really instrumental in my international career spanning through Europe and the US is that as long as you believe in yourself and you can showcase the confidence in your personality and role as a whole there are no cultural barriers. People are there to support you when you need them and when you extend your hand to support and empower them, the teamwork gets enhanced effectively and everybody in the organisation grows together.
How has motherhood been life-changing for you?
Motherhood is truly life-changing in the sense that it really puts your child as it really puts your child in the centre of your universe. Whatever you do, your child is the first thing that comes to your mind. Motherhood teaches you to multitask, it teaches you to focus, it gives you the extra strength to overcome the obstacles you face in life. You know you have to be vital for your daughter, you have to make some intermediate sacrifices for your MBA journey and overcoming all of them will only mean establishing a good future for my daughter.
What are the key factors that are driving you as a mother?
Key factors driving me as a mother are as I said my child is the centre of my universe and she is the one that drives me every single day. One thought about her reminds me of why I am here at the campus and what I want from this degree and that keeps me going, despite all the challenges and hardships that have come my way as a mother. Just the thought that there is a little being in this world who means everything to you and for whom you are ready to make any sacrifice and go to any extent to fulfil all their wishes and aspirations, that keeps me going.
How integral was your family’s support in your journey?
My family, especially my mother, father and sister, have been highly instrumental in my journey so far. In fact, my mother and father were the only reasons I thought of pursuing my MBA after entering motherhood. If it was not for them, I would have never even dreamt of coming here. So, my heartfelt and deepest gratitude to them as they have been my strongest pillars of support.
How is it so far on the campus?
It has been almost a month since we started here. Initially, it was extremely difficult because staying away from my daughter for an extended period knowing that the sacrifice needs to be made for the next 11 months is extremely daunting and it is not easy for a mother because there is this motherly instinct that bites you every single minute of the day. It is a huge sacrifice but every time I feel low I just look at my daughter’s picture and I remind myself of why I am here and what I want to do for my daughter through this PGPX journey and that keeps me pushing through all the obstacles and forge ahead.
There are a few more mothers like you who have returned to pursue their significant education. While it sure is full of challenges, what do you have to say about the courage of mothers here?
Lots of respect for all the mothers in this batch. It is a huge sacrifice from their end and it is full of challenges, it is not easy. There have been mothers who have two kids, there are mothers who have infants who are here to pursue their dreams. Huge respect for all the mothers out there and a salute to all the sacrifices they are making. Definitely, this will help them grow both as a person and professional.
What is your advice to those women who wish to restart their careers and go back to pursue education?
My only advice to women is that always stay strong and overcome your fears and insecurities. Many women do not feel confident about themselves and end up sacrificing a lot from a professional point of view being a hundred per cent as a mother. Just reflecting on my life so far I can say you can have the best of both worlds, your child will be very proud of you years down the lane. If you just take that step to overcome all the fears and insecurities you have and just push through with a lot of determination and dedication go ahead and live your dreams because the more confident you are the more focused you are in pursuing your dreams. It becomes an inspiration for your child and ultimately you end up giving a very bright future to your child.
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