Women in Resilience (WiR) Spotlight: Padmashree Prasad
Padmashree Prasad (Shree) has an overall work experience of 29 years in different domains and industries. Starting her career as a Lecturer in a Secretarial college, as a Secretary, a Relationship Officer and then later as a Team Leader and then Manager. Growing one step at a time has been a very progressive journey, helping in her overall learning, grooming and growth. Shree loves to sing and dance. Her favourite pastime is spending time with her three pet dogs Simba, Roadie and Maeve who are her biggest stressbusters.
What brought you into the industry?
Some work to achieve a particular goal and take up a particular job while some are designed by birth for a particular job. I believe that I was designed for this industry. My own personal journey has been one filled with stories of resilience. Having born as a sick child and continued to be for many years later, I was tuned to handle the different perils in my life with ease and overcome them. Not being able to be or do things like the other kids, to being mocked at and called a ‘failure’ by school mates (for having to repeat a particular class because I couldn’t take up the exams due to health reasons), made me a fighter. To fight against these odds and make myself strong to face any kind of eventuality without affecting my confidence forced me to get resilient. And watching my mother deal with all this with total calmness and ease taught me that accepting and preparing for unknown situations only makes you resilient and strong. Without any doubt, I was therefore drawn towards Business Continuity, Risk and Resilience. I knew the principles didn’t change much, be it life continuity or business continuity.
So when I was first exposed to BCM in 2005 from the administrative perspective, coordinating with the teams to ensure that their plans were reviewed, teams participating in the alternate site and work from home tests, I knew I wanted to pursue BCM as my area of expertise. I then started handling BCM for APAC and never looked back since then.
How did you reach your current position? What challenges did you face?
Reaching where I am today is a result of my dedication and dogged passion. When I started my journey, my ideas and thoughts were not accepted by many seniors. Being a woman and new to BCM at that, it definitely was not easy. They thought I was just being idealistic. However, I was blessed with some fantastic managers with whom my thoughts & ideas were able to resonate and they supported me in my journey of embedding and maturing BCM within my Organisation. The challenges were many but I always look at the small spring inside the pen to motivate me. You can really press it hard and pin it down. But when you release the spring, it only jumps back with more vigour and strength. I feel proud that some of the things that I proposed way back and was considered as not possible is now a reality. Fortunately, I have some good mentors from the industry who have helped groom me.
Which specific skills do you think are needed to become a leader in your field?
To become a Leader,
- one needs to respect all thoughts and ideas,
- be ready to learn from anyone (senior, junior or peer). Just be open to learning,
- share your knowledge with others so that you make space for yourself to learn new things. Teach and be open to be taught,
- be transparent and communicate effectively, and finally
- be unbiased so that you can work with anyone anywhere.
Do you think that the BCI WiR initiative will influence our industry? If yes, how?
I strongly believe that BCI WiR is a great initiative for women to start believing in themselves and realise they are much more capable than they think. Women by default are resilient, have an ability to work under stress and multitask. We have always donned many hats. So why undermine ourselves?
Women have stepped out of the kitchen, but they haven’t come out of their shell yet. It is time they challenge themselves, believe that they are capable and equivalent in thinking, decision making and handling crisis even outside their families.
The BCI WiR is a great platform to help women in the profession achieve, share and grow together.
What changes would you like to see in the profession?
This profession needs more women at leadership levels. There are women trickling in at the entry level, but they don’t grow beyond a certain point. I think an effective mentoring and coaching program will help these women reach leadership levels.
It has always been a struggle to educate people about Resilience & Business Continuity and how the concept not just helps the businesses but them too. No one is exempted from disasters. It is important that we have more people with a mindset that believes in ‘This too can happen’ from ‘This cannot happen because it has never happened’.
2020 has taught us a lot. These changes are a must.
- Change in mindset from this cannot happen to this too can happen.
- Stop seeing and start foreseeing.
- Stop laughing at others’ mistakes and learn from their mistakes.
- Don’t be in denial. BCP does not stand for just Business Continuity Planning. It also means Better Continue than Perish.
- Pessimism is the new Optimism. Be as pessimistic as possible to have the most optimistic plan.
- Document your plans well. Remember, your plan is DEAD if it cannot keep your business ALIVE during an incident
In your opinion, why should more people be joining the resilience community?
I firmly believe that the term resilience can be applied in every walk of life. Every person is resilient and applies the concept of resilience in their personal life almost every day without realising.
With the world getting more volatile by the day and with 2020 setting the benchmark, Resilience should be a ‘Way of Life’ and part of one’s DNA. 2020 as a year has made the world realise that Operational & Personal Resilience should never be compromised. The need for good resilience professionals is a definite requirement and it is the right time to focus on it as a career option.