#ShareTheSpotlight: Cipla's Geena Malhotra on colleague and mentee Patsy Jeffery

Geena Malhotra, Global Chief Technology Officer, Cipla writes, "When I started my professional journey in the 1980s the challenges for women spanned restricted chances for professional growth, unequal compensation in comparison to men, and widespread discrimination based on gender."

By  Storyboard18Mar 15, 2024 2:37 PM
#ShareTheSpotlight: Cipla's Geena Malhotra on colleague and mentee Patsy Jeffery
Geena Malhotra, Global Chief Technology Officer

In the spirit of solidarity, support, and mentorship among women in the workplace, I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation for my colleague and mentee, Patsy Jeffery. In a competitive professional landscape, I firmly believe in the power of collaboration over rivalry. Patsy exemplifies this ethos through her unwavering dedication to learning and mastery in her field. She embodies an eager learner, driven by curiosity and an unyielding thirst for knowledge. From the moment she embarked on her professional journey as a management trainee, she made it clear that she wasn't content with merely scratching the surface; she wanted to delve deep, to understand the intricacies of her field, and to master her craft.

In the early days of Patsy's career, she approached her professional development with a hunger for knowledge and a determination to excel. Recognising the value of learning from those with more experience, she eagerly sought out opportunities to shadow me, including traveling with me to plants, be part of batch manufacturing, part of meetings with partners and more. Patsy's approach to professional development is marked by initiative and resourcefulness. She actively seeks out opportunities for growth, including shadowing experiences, where her ability to extract insights and ask probing questions sets her apart.

What truly sets Patsy apart, however, is her fearless approach to decision-making. Unlike many who might shy away from deviating from the status quo or challenging popular beliefs, Patsy embraces the opportunity to think critically, to question assumptions, and to forge her own path. She is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, to explore alternative perspectives, and to chart a course that aligns with her own convictions and values, even if it’s going against popular beliefs!

I have witnessed Patsy undergo not only professional transformation but also personal struggles, emerging stronger. When faced with the challenge of having a premature child with critical medical issues while contemplating her role at Cipla, she defied industry norms by securing a work-from-home option, unheard of in the pharma sector at the time. Patsy tirelessly worked day and night, sealing high-value deals for the North American market, contributing significantly to the company's success while also prioritizing her child's welfare. Through it all, I observed Patsy's unwavering faith in God and His guiding hand, which was profoundly inspiring.

As a mentor, witnessing Patsy’s growth has been incredibly rewarding. Her confidence, knowledge, and skill have flourished over time, demonstrating the transformative power of curiosity and dedication. In Patsy, I see not just a mentee, but a future leader. Her embodiment of values, curiosity, and resilience assures me of her continued success. It is a privilege to have played an important role in her development, and I have no doubt that she will continue to shine brightly as she forges her own path in her career.

When I started my professional journey in the 1980s the challenges for women spanned restricted chances for professional growth, unequal compensation in comparison to men, and widespread discrimination based on gender. Many businesses were run by traditional, male-dominated ideologies that devalued the contributions of women and placed them in jobs of lesser prestige. Despite this, Cipla challenged traditional ideologies by advocating equal pay and many other forward-thinking policies to promote diversity and inclusion. Through concerted efforts to change company mindsets and practices, women gradually gained greater recognition and opportunities for advancement in the workforce.

I witnessed respect based on merit rather than gender bias. While some unconscious biases existed initially, the organisation’s commitment to equality ensured they quickly dissipated. The concept of a “Glass Ceiling” was not evident, as both myself and my colleagues ascended the organisational ladder based on merit. Navigating male-dominated spaces was not challenging for me, thanks to the supportive environment cultivated by Mr. MK Hamied and Dr. YK Hamied. However, learning from external struggles reinforced the importance of resilience, self-advocacy, and building strong support networks.

Although my experience has been much better than several other women, I have had the privilege of meeting during the course of my career, a common thread of learning is we need to consciously invest in our domestic support networks and build an environment of mutual respect within the family to ensure our ‘balancing act’ is well supported by every member. Personally, I’ve found that openly sharing both the triumphs and tribulations of my work life with my family strengthens their resolve to support me on my professional journey. Prioritising the development of a healthy home environment is paramount for achieving sustainable work-life balance and overall well-being.

Drawing from my experiences, I can confidently say that while having a supportive organisation is an advantage and blessing, every woman in her professional journey must be resilient. It’s crucial to learn how to overcome setbacks and maintain focus on your objectives. Advocating for oneself and fellow women in the workplace, coupled with assertiveness in expressing ideas and contributions, can help navigate any challenge that may come our way. Moreover, establishing robust support networks with friends, mentors, sponsors, and allies who offer guidance, support, and opportunities for advancement is imperative for success in any leadership role.

Note to readers: Storyboard18's Share The Spotlight aims to highlight inspirational stories of women who continue breaking barriers and setting the precedent for other women marketers, entrepreneurs and communication specialists.

The initiative aims to kick off a movement where people from across these communities step up and share their spotlight with other women.

Share The Spotlight calls on us all to come out and share words of praise and encouragement for each other, appreciating and acknowledging the contributions of so many people who make businesses, brands and workplaces better. Learn and understand how to face challenges and seize opportunities while bringing along others on the path to progress.

This is just the beginning of a long journey to spotlight individuals who are empowering others and bringing change and growth for all. Together we rise.

First Published on Mar 15, 2024 12:51 PM

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