Divya Gokulnath (right), cofounder and director, Byju's, with her mother A crucial aspect of being a woman in the 21st century is the need to have successful women role models who can inspire, guide, and influence. Luckily for me, my biggest role model and mentor has been by my side since birth—my mother.
Be it in the corporate world or otherwise, representation matters, and seeing other women in positions of leadership is a glorious manifestation of this representation. I can vouch for this because it’s a method of influence that has personally touched my life.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have been surrounded by inspiring women all through my childhood. I grew up with a working mother who fearlessly pursued her career and rose to be a producer in a field that was not often pursued by women.
My grandmother too was a force to be reckoned with. An English-speaking and sport-loving woman, she was a great role model in turn for her daughter.
Be it civil services, banking, teaching or even biotechnology, women in my family have gone out and done extraordinary things. When you grow up in an environment where your choices are not bound by the myopic lens of gender, which becomes a way of life for you, that becomes the norm.
Witnessing my mother’s choices has played a huge part in the path I chose for myself too.
Be it at every stage of life—as a child, a young woman choosing a career path, or when I became a mother myself—she has been a rock solid support, and an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me. My love for sports also stems from the confidence my parents instilled in me to challenge myself and not let gender ever play a role in any choices I make.
The women in my family have not only taught me to be fiercely independent, but also how to be a working mother and strike that delicate balance between family and work.
A crucial tenet of motherhood I learnt from my mother in particular is to be fully present.
Whenever she spent time with me at home, she was there in mind, body, and soul. Never did she carry the pressures of deadlines or work back home with her. This made sure I could experience my mother just as she was. She drew her boundaries, maintained her individuality and prioritised work and family as needed.
Being a mother myself now, I realise that this requires a lot of multitasking, and she pulled it off flawlessly.
Inspiration, thus, has been from all around me. From my mother to my grandmother, my aunts to my mother-in-law, all of these incredible women have given me sense, direction and reason to stand up on my own, for myself and for the women who now grow alongside me.
‘To her, with love’ is a Storyboard18 special series where women in leadership tell us about the women who inspired them and led the way. A shout-out to her.