Lakshmi Chandra S, Manager, Learning & Development, IBS Software, Trivandrum, India
Hi Lakshmi, tell us about your role and what you enjoy
I joined IBS Software's internal communications department four years ago and then moved to Human Resources (HR) as part of the global Learning & Development (L&D) team, managing behavioural and leadership programs. I'm also responsible for our new hire induction program, which covers leadership inductions and onboarding from an L&D perspective.
I've spent my entire career working in HR and communications. Connecting with people, nurturing their development, and ultimately helping them be happy and fulfilled has always been my unswerving focus.
What's your favourite part of the job?
That my role enables me to make a difference, to directly transform people's perspectives and lives and point them towards making more fulfilling choices.
It allows me to witness a smile of success and satisfaction; I love it when people can see how much I understand them and their emotions.
What did you study? What drew you to this field?
As much as I love creative writing, I wanted to focus on developing skills to transform people's lives, so I went on to do a Master's in Human Resources Management.
I practice what I preach, and I'm committed to my own ongoing education! Over the years, I've completed a Management Development Program in L&D at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore. I have also gained a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Law at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore.
One of my favourite parts of being in an L&D team is the constant opportunity to learn new skills. I am a certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner from the American Board of NLP, a Design Thinking practitioner certified by KPMG and trained in Conscious Leadership practices from Denmark.
Tell us about some pivotal career moments
I've been lucky that my career has been punctuated by so many experiences that have shaped the professional I've become. A couple that stand out:
Working in the UAE where I was involved in hosting an International Women Leaders' conference at the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel. I loved meeting trailblazing female leaders from IT, administration and politics. It was a hugely inspiring event, a manifestation of what women can achieve!My time with the fintech giant Finastra, during a period of massive organizational change. I became the APAC Lead in the global L&D team, managing training for the entire region, helping people adjust to major business transformations. These were great learning experiences for me.
What is your advice for a successful career?
Each day should be viewed as a learning exercise, especially in a fast-moving industry like IT. If you don't closely follow technology advancements, you risk being left behind.
Know yourself and your USP. Create brand YOU, carving out a distinct space in your workplace. If you do not know your worth, nobody will.
Shed the fear of judgement and charge ahead propelled by your sky-high dreams.
Push boundaries and step out of your comfort zone because success does not bloom in the cocoon of a challenge-free haven.
Can you share an example of when you pushed the boundaries?
Unfortunately, I couldn't take it up due to a lack of state funding. But the offer letter is to this day, a treasured document; it's a tangible reminder that if I had stuck to my immediate day-to-day priorities, this opportunity wouldn't have happened.
It became a great learning for me and shaped the choices I made later in life.
What does #EmbraceEquity (the theme for this year's International Women's Day) mean to you? How can we practice this?
As a woman who strives to see each day as a step closer to a stronger version of me, I choose not to tango with implicit biases. If you make it your mission to move forward in your personal and professional realms, enabling and empowering men and women around you to be aware of their capabilities, and helping them find their voices, you actively break the cycle of gender inequalities and gender-based implicit bias.
I always try to support young people in understanding their personal, behavioural and professional potential, and enable them to break loose from fear of judgement.
Who is your unlikely hero?
My mother, Dr. P Sobhana. She grew up in the 1950s, in a time and social setting where women were perhaps more conditioned to focus on building homes rather than lead holistic lives. She was a senior scientist with India's National Institute for rubber research (RRII), part of the team that created the first ever tissue culture rubber plant, a national achievement.
She is the sculptor of my life, showing me the world of books and reading at a very young age that later became my lifelong passion. I am proud to be an extension of her.
What type of support should be in place to help women at the start of their careers in tech?
Compared to when I first started, organizations today think and act in ways that are incredibly proactive. Robust behavioural training frameworks with mentoring and coaching support, truly help women take the right decisions across personal and professional situations.
The destination you reach is a direct result of the choices you make along the way. The biggest mindset shift we can bring to women at the start of their career is taking ownership of their choices, appreciating themselves for all the right steps taken and learning from all the wrong ones.
I'm currently reading…
By my bedside are two books that I have read multiple times – 'Becoming' by Michelle Obama and 'The Promised Land' by Barack Obama. I love 'Becoming' to bits. I know many parts of the book by heart now!
My next trip will be to…
I love travelling with my son, Japan is top of our list; I want to experience the cherry blossoms, take in the view of Mount Fuji and of course sample our favourite sushi. Travel is a thrill and a special time for mom and son!