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Prepare for opportunity by volunteering for unassuming tasks
Story of role-model Shagufta Inamdar
I lost my father when I was in 9th. I am the oldest amongst 3 of us. After I finished my 12th, I took up a job to supplement the family income.
I could express myself well in English. A cigarette sales campaign turned out to be my first job.
Campaign over, I went to a placement agency to register myself. They offered me a job, so I started working with them.
My future husband worked here. Within the year, we were married. I continued to work.
He and my in-law family have always supported my ambition. Later, they would all even relocate to Bangalore from Pune, for my professional sake.
Along with work, I finished my graduation and then my MBA.
I joined an ed-tech company as a counsellor to sell training courses.
In 1 1/2 years, I was doing the centre head role. They still called me coordinator, because I was too young for that position.
One of my best professional moments, still etched in my mind, is a little later, when they announced my promotion publicly during the anniversary celebrations.
I found many opportunities to learn by doing, while at work.
I would show up before office to create learning aids for the enrolled students. I learnt much in the process.
A senior colleague changed jobs and a while later head-hunted me to a much bigger training company.
I taught myself project management by immersing myself in the scheduling calendar. Then I began to conduct MS project trainings.
I wanted to enter the project management space but they said, how could I teach experienced project managers, if I was not an engineer myself?
So, I started helping out by creating the question banks. Also games and ready-reckoners. Thus I learnt too and became familiar.
Opportunity comes to the prepared and it smiled my way when our team fell short of a trainer on a busy day.
No, it was not smooth sailing after that.
A bunch of experienced project managers ate me for breakfast.
On day 1 of a 3 day offsite, I sunk to the lowest point of my career, as question after probing question, I was unable to answer.
Can you imagine this? - I cried in front of this class. Yet, somehow, I carried on.
That evening, the office heard of my debacle and offered to send a replacement guru.
I refused. Day 2 was much better because it was hands on MS Project and I could hold my own there.
I clawed my way back, by day 3.
I got better at delivering and built my expertise too. All on the job.
When I left this company, I was easily amongst the best trainers on project management, that they had to offer.
I joined Wipro and built my credentials there.
As usual, I would volunteer for thankless tasks, because they could teach what I wanted to learn next.
Marrying the two :), was my strategic lever.
Since then I have moved to HP and then to Diageo. I now deliver L&D as a strategic lever for our business.
My focus has helped me reach where I am today.