Six Inspiring Lessons from the Women in my Life

I look back on my journey and I think about all the different stages when women have played a crucial role in my life. Women are always inspiring us, often in ways we fail to realize and understand. There are many values and traits that we can learn from women to become better leaders that

I look back on my journey and I think about all the different stages when women have played a crucial role in my life. Women are always inspiring us, often in ways we fail to realize and understand. There are many values and traits that we can learn from women to become better leaders that have helped me in my career.

I dedicate this blog post to 6 incredible women I have known and the inspiring lessons they have taught me. So, what have I learnt?

Don’t fear, stick to your values

I was preparing for a sports event, and unfortunately, I ended up breaking the racket. As expected, I was summoned to the principal’s office. Fearing his wrath, I just stood there, a mute spectator while my friend owned up to what we had done. My mom, Rajam, sat me down, and explained why it was important to face fears, own up to my actions, and never give up on my values. A lesson that has stayed with me and helped me in good stead ever since.

You will do well in what you love

While I was in school one day, I was squirming in the biology lab, absolutely not up to performing the dissection I had to. Being a vegetarian, the dissection was even more traumatic to me. Seetha Ramakrishnan, my biology teacher, sensed my uneasiness and took me to a hospital. She showed me the doctors and taught me about the far-reaching impact I could have, if I excelled in what I needed to do. And I also understood that to do well and excel, you really need to love what you do!

Empowerment goes together with accountability

I learnt this from Julie Kownacki, my first manager. Those were the days when I was a happy coder, liked what I was doing, and doing reasonably well too. So, when it was time for appraisals, I was expecting a good one. But when I got my score, it was too low, and I went up to have a word with my manager. That’s when she taught me, that I scored low because I was doing what I had to with no accountability. I had no idea of where my work fitted in and how it eventually helped. If I wanted the power, I would need to take responsibility.

Observe yourself, play to your strengths

More often than not, we always focus on our weaknesses, constantly endeavoring to get better at what we are not. And while there is no harm in doing that, what happens is that we miss out on identifying our strengths and utilizing them to their fullest potential. When I was working in a start-up environment, I always saw myself as playing a more technical role and not so much a leadership one. But Olivia Dillan, my best manager, helped me realize how I was unconsciously already being a leader, solving my peers’ problems, and doing it effectively too. This was a turning point that got me onto the path towards leadership.

Believe in yourself, you wouldn’t have come so far otherwise

When the dot com bubble burst, and I thought I had lost it all, it was my wife’s words that kept me going. Without so much as a hint of doubt, Geetha told me, that if I did not have it in me, I would not have even come this far. She made sure I believed in myself and it’s probably the main reason why I continued my journey forward.

Stay calm and strong through the storm

I was on a vacation with my family, and while we were returning, my daughter mentioned a medical problem that had been troubling her throughout the trip. The protective father in me immediately came to fore, and I asked why she never mentioned it before. Her simple reply was that she didn’t because she didn’t want me to get worried and scrap all plans. And in spite of all the wisdom, courtesy my age and experience, nothing could beat the feeling of learning a valuable lesson from my daughter. She had shown me how important it was to stay calm through a storm!

Can you recount any important lessons you learnt from the women in your life? Do share them in your comments. I’m all ears for inspiring stories!



Written by Vijay Anand

Vijay Anand is Senior Vice President at Intuit responsible for Intuit’s Global Development Centers. During his 8 year tenure, Vijay is credited with growing the India Development Center into a premier technology center where over 1000 talented employees deliver key innovations in our products including Quickbooks and TurboTax that delight millions of customers around the world. Here in India, Intuit is consistently recognized as one of India’s Best Companies to Work for by the Great Place to Work Institute and The Economic Times including the #1 ranking in 2017. Intuit is also a recognized leader in Diversity and Inclusion (ranked #3 in retaining women at work in 2015 by Great Place to Work Institute) and awarded Most Innovative in the industry by Zinnov. Last year, Vijay launched a new global development center for Intuit in Israel with a deel focus on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science and Information Security.

Prior to Intuit, Vijay has played senior leadership roles leading large R&D centers for Oracle and Sun Microsystems in India. Earlier, Vijay was an entrepreneur for the first 14 years of his career in the US, first at Transarc (acquired by IBM in 1993) and NetDynamics (acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1998).

For his work, Vijay received Intuit’s prestigious Bill Campbell Coach’s Award in 2017, Intuit’s CEO Leadership Award in 2013, and the Out and Equal’s Champion Award in 2014 for championing workplace equality. He is the Chair of Anita Borg Institute’s (ABI) India Council that runs the popular Grace Hopper Conference for technical women and a member of ABI’s US Board of Trustees. He is on the advisory board of technology startups in Bangalore and the Silicon Valley, actively mentors entrepreneurs and women technologists and is a regular featured speaker at entrepreneur and tech conferences. Vijay has a graduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Arizona and a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Please follow Vijay on his twitter or LinkedIn.