Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed working with a diverse group of men and women who served as my mentors and advocates, and I’m the better for it. In those times when I was concerned that I wasn’t up for a challenge, it was usually another woman who told me that not only was I up for it, I owed it to myself to try.
As a leader, my success depends on challenging all of the individuals I work with, regardless of gender identity, to live into their talents, to do the things they know are strengths, and to have the opportunity to identify strengths they never knew existed. We must challenge ourselves and each other if we are to reach great heights.
I challenge myself too, to grow and learn. This past year, while unusual, was an opportunity to grow in unusual ways. At work, I started to learn CGI’s Defense business as part of my evolving role, and integrated new CGI members coming aboard through our merger with TeraThink. Meanwhile, at home I kept three elementary-school aged children engaged in virtual school, at least most of the time.
For these reasons, and so many more, I’m pleased that #ChooseToChallenge is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day.
I’m not alone in that. It is my honor to work with many smart, talented women at CGI, and I’d like to use this opportunity to allow a few of them to share their thoughts on some important questions.
What does the IWD theme of #ChoosetoChallenge mean to you?
To be our best selves, we need to challenge ourselves and accept challenges from other people. We are all capable people. When we challenge ourselves, we gain knowledge and self-confidence. When someone challenges us, we sometimes recognize the person believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. This can lead to a breakthrough we weren’t expecting. -- Lynn Goodrich, Director
#ChooseToChallenge, for me, means to evaluate & re-evaluate my skills every day. As a CGI member, it’s most important to keep the trust of the client, and to keep building trust by showing commitment and delivering results. It is not always work that is the only challenging aspect, but to balance family and work is such an essential aspect. In short, "every challenge you face today makes you stronger tomorrow." -- Navaneeth Sardarni, Director
I have never accepted “no” as an option until I have exhausted all the possibilities. So this theme [#ChooseToChallenge] is a principle I follow in order to constantly reinvent myself and create a better version of me. -- Vijayalakshmi Balasubramanian, Director, Consulting Services
Why is challenging bias and inequality so important?
I believe that bias is a byproduct of our ego. Once we recognize this, we can recognize bias in us and we will automatically accept everyone as they are. Acceptance removes bias as well as inequality. Acceptance gives everyone a space to grow, thrive and live. I think of this as more self-transformation which will again help create a better version of ourselves thus resulting in a better future for everyone. -- Vijayalakshmi Balasubramanian
It is important to challenge intrinsic bias in order to understand the systemic limitations we place on those around us and they place on us. We need to do more than talk about it. We need to take action. -- Lynn Goodrich
Unless we all are aware of hidden biases and inequality. and we acknowledge and raise voice against it, there will be no peace and growth for the human race. -- Tezeswari Nettimi, Senior Consultant
We can’t hide our heads in the sand. Throughout history, progress and change has only ever been made when someone has stood up and challenged a status quo. If we are to grow as a society and a species, we have to continually challenge our way of thinking and the status quo. Without this type of reflection, there can be no growth.-- Teri Musick, Director
Do you have an example of a challenge that you turned into a career success?
Being a junior team member, I have taken up responsibilities & tasks which are commonly executed by senior engineers. I consider it as career milestone to be able to do that and every milestone is a small part of success. -- Navaneeth Sardarni
Who do you look to for inspiration or guidance?
It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale. I look to many places for inspiration, from Einstein’s “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them;” to Ghandi’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world;” to Tolkein’s, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us;” and even Uncle Iroh from "Avatar: The Last Airbender." I’ve been told I am a dreamer and I have my head in the clouds, to which I’ve responded, it’s better than hiding my head in the sand.--Teri Musick, Director.
How have you challenged yourself this year?
This year I have committed to earning two certifications. I owe it to myself to get these certifications because I’ve been putting them off for a few years. Personally, I learned a Japanese braiding technique used to make jewelry. I learned how to do it using YouTube videos. -- Lynn Goodrich
Trying to find the balance between personal and professional life has been a big challenge, with the lines for professional and personal lives blurred with every member of family home are either attending classes, or working from home. I have had to come up with a rough timeline to manage and focus on single tasking as opposed to multi-tasking. This has greatly helped me with slaying the “to-do” lists. In addition, taking mindful breaks along with short yoga, and daily meditation has kept my well-being in-check. -- Tezeswari Nettimi
What advice would you give to other women and girls?
To speak up, raise your hand, seek a mentor, and let people know of your career aspirations. You will be surprised how many people are willing to help you get there. -- Marjorie Deffo Tagne, Manager