At 61, after working in a male-dominated field of law for over 30 years, Zia Mody, founder and managing partner, AZB and Partners, has slowly risen up the ladder to become one of India's leading corporate legal eagles. But her journey has not been easy — in fact, it has been fraught with setbacks that she has persevered through. At the Ladies Who Lead event, in conversation with Aabha Bakaya, Zia gives us 5 life lessons on how not being perfect doesn't mean you can't win in life.
1. Make yourself indispensable at your workplace
“As women, we are constantly proving ourselves. If we have kids to look after, we fear that someone will thwart our position if we get distracted. We have this nagging fear of missing out, but the key is to never let your mind get rusty — even if you take a break from work to look after your kids — and keep it polished. Till date, I will not go to sleep unless I read the latest update on the law, for it helps me prepare for the next day."
2. Time is your real enemy
"Everything in a woman's life revolves around time. We need to take out time for work, our family, our kids, and finally, for ourselves. For me, the cost has always been sleep. Now I'm not saying that that's the solution, but it worked for me. I've learnt that we should be ruthless in outsourcing things we don't necessarily need to do ourselves. This makes space for time that you can spend on yourself and saves you from guilt. My biggest regret is not spending enough time with my family."
3. Don't feel outnumbered, ever
"When I first went to court, it was disconcerting. I was surrounded with male counterparts, who would be waiting to pounce on any mistake I made in speech. When we first started out with our firm, we were 12 people. We were eating cold pizzas every night, learning about the laws. But we persevered, and today, we're a proud team of 400."
4. The money doesn't matter
“It doesn’t matter if your husband earns more than you. It’s the self-worth that matters. Be proud of how much you earn.”
5. Support your female employees/co-workers
"Women go through two life cycles. First is when she gets married, and it's difficult, especially if she lives with her in-laws. Young girls going through that phase need some hand-holding and their female boss is the best person to help them through. The second phase is when she becomes a mother. At that time, female bosses need to ensure that they make them comfortable with the amount of work being allocated as motherhood is a journey of its own. Mentoring is a must here; and having a conversation will make your employees believe that you, as an organisation, respect them and believe in them."
The Ladies Who Lead event was organised in association with Ministry of New and Hustlebird.