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I migrated to Australia 18 years ago. My initial experience as a migrant was no different to others. What set me apart was my extremely positive mindset and ability to be flexible and embrace the best of Australian values and work ethics. I appreciate the Australian ‘fair go’ ideology coupled with strong work ethics and the ability to laugh at oneself. Incorporating these values into my own hardworking lifestyle allowed me to break through the cultural and gender glass ceiling faced by several migrants. I felt I truly belonged to the country of my adoption – multicultural Australia. And so began my appreciation of the diversity journey.
I had dreamed that one day I would be able to contribute in Australia, through leadership inputs in my chosen industry and by way of contributing to my country of origin through business facilitation.
She worked hard. There were no elevators to success
Grassroots understanding is essential for success. From working hard in my chosen industry bottom up to reach where I am today has been a reward in itself.
Contributing actively to the AIBC for 18 years since I have been in Australia, I never expected to walk into an organisation and be promoted to a position from Day 1. One has to earn one's strip
Challenges she faced
One of the biggest challenges was obviously getting into the industry of advertising that I loved.
I still remember the Chairman interviewing me and his first question was –"How would you describe yourself?’’
I promptly said - "someone who can make the best of a bad bargain’’. He offered me the job without as much as even seeing my CV. I think being positive and flexibility helps Accepting a position, which was much lower than what I had, coupled with a can-do attitude was the best way for me. It worked.
Results speak louder than words. I set to it, and the company I joined in Australia delivered their best profits ever under my tenure. I also had the lowest staff turnover and a very committed, loyal team.
Can women have it all?
Women do have a lot of responsibilities and we have to always juggle a multitude of tasks.
The belief that you can help others is a very strong motivator to fight for justice against all odds and make things happen whether in your personal life or in the business world.
My parents taught me the value of comparison. It is important to look not at those who have more than you, but to those who have so much less than you. Suddenly you realise how good life has been to you and it is immediately humbling and grounding. Lessons of empathy and compassion go a long ay not merely in creating a fine human being but also a great professional.
This helped in sometimes getting away from being too gender focussed.
These early lessons I have learned led to my inclusive style of management, where our staff members in the company feel they are part of a family, and give their best because they want to and not because they have to.
Women have all the opportunities available to them today and I believe can reach out for the stars lot more easily than yesteryear women.
The advice you’d like to give other women
Clarity of vision and focus on what you do is equally important as passion, being positive & flexible provides the cutting edge.
But all this becomes fruitless if you do not have a good team supporting you on your journey.
One of the key lessons that Sheba learned on her journey is that, ‘You are only as good as your team and the people who support you.’
I believe my success has been made possible because of the terrific team I have and my family support received from my husband, son, my sisters and my amazing parents.
What I also discovered was the value of being mentored and advises women to find a role model and mentor who can help them navigate life’s tough choices.
Sheba is also a leading cross-cultural expert who is regularly consulted on high-level governance and cross-cultural issues faced by Australian companies and boards doing business in Asia.
Sheba has today several firsts to her credit, including being the first woman elected National Chair of Australia India Business Council.
This is part of SBS Punjabi’s special series dedicated to the International Women's Day.