The exhausting late-night work calls, the urgent school projects, the piling takeout boxes, the unread books, the unused OTT subscriptions, the yoga class you keep paying for but miss, a laundry basket that is always overflowing. And sleep – what’s that? Sound familiar? It would to working mothers around the globe. To top this off, can reskilling or upskilling ever fit into their schedules?
The answer to this question is a resounding YES. And we can say that with conviction because many working mothers who are part of the Emeritus family are also lifelong learners. To ring in International Mother’s Day, we caught up with working moms who have donned the learner’s hat in addition to everything else they do!
As we delve into their heartfelt stories of accomplishment, let’s get acquainted with the Emeritus moms who are giving us serious #learninggoals.
Meet Lifelong Learner #1: Neha Sharma
Neha Sharma’s journey to becoming a learner started with a challenge from her 15-year-old son. Sharma asked her son to get serious about his studies because he was about to graduate from high school. His response, as expected from a budding teenager, was, “You were in school many years ago, and things have changed.” Sharma took that as a challenge and went back to school, virtually.
But why did she choose to study when she was already leading a team of 50-plus members in an edtech unicorn? It was a conversation with one of her mentors that prompted her to revisit some of the concepts she’d studied back in school. “The times that we live in, it’s not enough to have gone to school a few decades ago or to rely on the skills that we picked up that long ago. Things change every day, and we must keep up,” says Sharma.
We asked her if going back to a discipline of studying after all these years was tough, and she nodded in agreement that it sure was. Sharma found that she could do in-depth work on her projects in an uninterrupted manner only on weekends. “Trying to keep up on weekdays was like burning the candle at both ends,” she says. But when she finally finished the course, she realized she had gained more than just a certification. All that time spent with her eldest son on weekends doing projects together was an invaluable experience in itself. Moreover, she also picked up a trick or two from her teenager for doing quick research online!
Advice to Working Mothers
“It is important for children to see their mothers invest in themselves, be the best version of themselves, and be happy with what they do.”
— Neha Sharma, Senior Associate Director of Marketing at Emeritus and Lifelong Learner
Sharma also made a very important point about how it is vital for working mothers to ask for help. She solicited the help of family, friends, and her partner to make sure her boys made it to all the events on their busy calendars. But what about other working/single moms who do not have that support? Can they, too, choose learning? Sharma sums it up honestly, saying, “If you do not have support, you will have to compromise on something. It could be sleep or your workout regime. In the end, it is a choice of what you are willing to give up on in order to invest in yourself.”
Meet Lifelong Learner #2: Ruchira Roy
Ruchira Roy felt that her early association with the edtech industry prompted her to take up not one, but four different programs between 2015 and 2021 while her daughter, now 10, was growing up. “I chose to learn because it was online, for the sheer convenience and comfort of studying from home without having to compromise on the curriculum,” says Roy, who also believes that we must learn continuously to stay relevant.
Four courses in six years! Must have had plenty of hard days? “There are no hard days, only really long ones,” says Roy with a winning smile that reminds us that positivity can conquer all. Also, she stresses how important it is to have a supportive partner who is willing and capable when it comes to filling in as a parent when you need to study.
But was it worthwhile, the effort taken to complete all these courses as she juggled work and life? Roy gives a thumbs up to that. Not only has her additional online education helped her progress at work, but it has also completely changed her perspective on communication. Being able to research case studies of real brands has made a big difference to Roy, as has the global nature of her cohorts. “You start seeing the science behind the theory,” she says.
Advice to Working Mothers
“Don’t try to balance it out. What is the perfect balance? Does it even exist? So, don’t beat yourself up about something that can never be achieved. It is very important as a mother to put yourself first sometimes.”
— Ruchira Roy, Senior Marketing Manager at Emeritus and Lifelong Learner
Meet Lifelong Learner #3: Snneha Karia
New mom Snneha Karia made rather optimum use of her maternity leave as she finished her course just before returning to work full time! Karia had her heart set on the post-graduate diploma in leadership program—in collaboration with MIT, Columbia Business School, and Tuck—for a long time. But when she finally enrolled, she had the added surprise of being a few months pregnant! So, she spent most of her pregnancy and her program calculating whether her delivery would clash with the capstone project. But thankfully, it didn’t.
And how does it look when pregnancy hormones and coursework mix? “I never took an extension on any project, not even the week I delivered! I came back from the hospital and finished the modules that were pending for that week,” says a triumphant Karia. But studying with a newborn? Is that even possible? It is, if you put your mind to it.
Karia overcame her hardest days post-delivery by making her baby girl part of her learning schedule. The image of Karia holding her baby, who is ready to be fed, while studying in front of the screen captures an iconic moment that represents our times. It symbolizes that in a digital world, childcare and a mother’s ambitions can go hand in hand.
But a little help never hurts anybody, especially a new mom! Help comes in many forms; logistics and chores are two parts. “Emotional support is also very important from a partner. My husband knew that this course was important to me, and he supported my ambition in an emotionally delicate state during my pregnancy,” she says. The support a mother gets at work is equally relevant, and Karia calls out the support she has received from her team and her manager during every instance.
Advice to Working Mothers
“As women and mothers, we do face guilt. But we must rise above it. If we are not happy as individuals, we cannot make anyone around us happy. We must prioritize ourselves, and the people who love us will understand.”
— Snneha Karia, Content Marketing Manager and Learner at Emeritus
Every mother has a unique story. What’s common is the constant multitasking. They’re proof that you can if you want, and we are proud to enable such super SHEroes.
By Anwesha Barari
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