Shefali Malhotra

Sr. Vice President - Finance

Determined to carve a niche

I belong to Amritsar and did my schooling from a public school and B.Com from Government College in Amritsar. Looking at the scenario at that time in Amritsar, which was quite a disturbed as terrorism was at its peak my parents were not open to sending me out too much. I joined CA and everyone around me was thrilled when I cleared all groups in first attempt. It was a big boost for me as well as my parents.

My parents supported me immensely in my journey to take my career forward. As a qualified CA, my first job was in Amritsar and as opportunities were limited I came to Delhi. I met few people and after couple of months, I got a call from Airborne Express- a US based Courier Company and joined them. Worked with them for 3.5 years and then got a break with Airtel.

My Airtel Journey

I joined in 2000 as Assistant Manager- Finance. After a year, I moved into Business Planning role which I liked. After that, there was no looking back. I have seen the steady rise of Airtel closely. I have worked on setting up new function in businesses from scratch. All the stints which I have done whether in mobile business or in B2B business as Controller – B2B has been added value to me as a person as well as a professional. About a year and half back I was appointed as Global Head for Revenue Assurance. It is big portfolio and has different set of challenges, working within different cultures is a new learning for me. It has been a very fruitful journey at airtel. I have loved working here, the kind of empowerment and the space we are given to work independently and put forward our point of view is immense.

Good part is that there is no discrimination of the gender here. Leaders here are very open to give women an equal set of opportunities. In my case also, they were ready to take a bet based on track record of performance. What is promoted here is that, come to the organization as a professional and you will be given opportunities.

Being Mentored and Being a Mentor

I’ve had the opportunity to work very closely with many senior leaders- Srikanth Balachandran, Nilanjan Roy, Sanjay Nandrajog , K Srinivas , Pankaj Miglani to name a few– every leader has given me a different learning in terms of how to deal with situations, how to improve my skills. Outside finance, I have been mentored by our current CIO, Harmeen Mehta.

When I am mentoring tell my mentees, if you are a real professional then you have to be ambitious enough to say I am woman I will find ways to handle situations. If you have to stretch at times be ready to take it up. Your own willingness and your own desire to say that I want to succeed in both personal & professional life can make it happen. Own up your job & life, it’s the only answer.

On Motherhood

Sometimes I feel I am not devoting as much time to my daughter which she deserves, there is a stretch, and you have to be mentally and physically aligned to take up that stretch. Over the weekends, I give more time to my daughter to balance out the situation. My advice is keep your cool and keep your passion on and try giving the best out to both the worlds. The balancing act has to be within your mind. At work as well, take full ownership so that you are seen as a thorough professional.

Advice to young professionals

As a woman, we keep on thinking about our limitations. Be clear that you are a professional who comes to an organization, so behave like the one. Few realities as a woman we have to accept-some pressure of work-life balance or say that we have to manage the work-life balance. If you are ambitious enough, you will find ways to manage the show at both the sides.
Have confidence in yourself- you have the capabilities, sky is the limit.