Shilpa Wadhwa

General Manager- VAS & Voice Products, Global business

The Beginnings

I was born and brought up in Kota, Rajasthan where I did my schooling from Sophia Convent School. I had a very progressive schooling where I received umpteen opportunities in sports, extra-curricular activities that played a great role in my upbringing and taught me hard work, self-motivation and determination. I graduated in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Kota.

Start of the Journey

I started my career as a Senior Engineer in Tata Communications where I worked for over 8 years. Here, I got my first black belt in Six Sigma for the organization which acted as a fuel and drove me to experiment beyond network space.

The Airtel Chapter

Airtel has been an exciting chapter in my life. I represented Tata in a Six Sigma CII forum and got introduced to the Airtel Carriers Business Excellence Team. It was an aspirational opportunity for me to become part of Airtel Carrier business in 2006 but I realized I lacked business skills. I decided to focus on sharpening my axe, quit my job and got through IIM Lucknow’s one year full time Executive MBA program in NCR. The guidance and mentorship of my managers at that difficult time gave me the encouragement to confidently follow my passion. Post MBA, I joined Airtel global business team and moved into products role. And since then there has been no looking back!

Brilliant Mentors

The then CEO N Arjun, Rajan Swaroop and my reporting manager Arun Malik, all three of them, mentored me in my early years in Airtel and the faith they showed in me, the kind of role and responsibilities they entrusted me with and backed me in every decision has enabled me to develop my confidence. Empowerment and risk taking traits have been the hallmark of all Airtel leaders I have worked with and it has been my biggest learning.

Work Life Balance

When I introspect, I realize, I don't believe in the concept of ‘balance’ between work and home. I don't think it’s about balancing but it’s only about trying to multitask in a better way; whether by prioritizing, time management, delegating, by empowering a support mechanism or even if by letting go at times.

Airtel’s Leadership

At Airtel, a leader who has greatly influenced me is Harmeen. She has brilliant thought clarity and a strong conviction. Another influence has been Sheryl Sandberg’s writings where she talks about women’s own internal biases holding them back. I believe it is us who need to come out of our own bias and focus on our strength.

On Working Women

One thing that I would recommend to women entering workforce is to don’t go in with preconceived notions. At this stage you might not be really very clear about what you are trying to achieve or do. Be open to opportunities and look for mentors and torch bearers. Work hard and remember there is no substitute for working hard. I would strongly recommend every professional woman to read the book ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg.