Smita Mani

Vice President- Transformation & Managed Services


I was born in Bhutan and studied across many parts of India. My father was in defence so we traveled a lot. He has been an early influencer in my life. He was a voracious reader and I inculcated the habit of reading and paying attention to detail from him. We would move cities every few years and this somehow got ingrained in my psyche. My childhood has inculcated in me the feeling of adapting to new surroundings quickly and with ease.

Building Blocks

I did my graduation in Psychology, completed courses in PR and advertising and then an MBA which was a natural choice. I was interning with Rediffusion and was working on creating a scrapbook on Airtel, when my inquisitiveness about the brand led me to attend a few meetings. And who knew that this would be company which would hold the key to my future.

The Airtel Quest

In 1997, I joined Airtel as an officer trainee. Back then we were struggling with a lot of quality issues. We were amongst the first few batches to undergo a formal 30-day curriculum prior to joining the Call Centre. The concept was a big success and was continued for subsequent batches. Some of the values at Airtel that I really admire are the level of empowerment given to employees. At an Assistant Manager level, I was making decisions which were impacting the entire customer base. It instilled a sense of added responsibility to perform better and motivated me a lot. Deep down I knew that the company was trusting us with their customers. The feeling of belonging and responsibility has always kept me motivated to give out my best.

I can say out loud that Airtel is the best telecom brand and the best company to work for in India. It has a safe, secure and a welcoming environment for its women.

My Influencers

Many people have influenced me at various stages of my life. One of my earliest bosses was responsible for inculcating the sense of ownership. I have been a learner all my life and have picked up simple things from people around me. Women leaders such as Indra Nooyi also have been of great influence to me.

On Working Mothers

Today’s parents feel guilty for not giving quality time to children. I believe it’s about the choices one makes and one should stay away from the guilt factor. My advice to millennial mothers is to enjoy this time. Be fully present in the moment and enjoy the time you get to spend with your children. My in-laws have been very supportive and that has been a great blessing. Women at all level but especially mid management level should learn to prioritize. Prioritizing, delegating and efficient time management are the key to success.

What I read

Being an avid reader, I prefer reading books on management and self-improvement. ‘Lean In’ and ‘Seven Habits of Effective people’ are two of my favorites and I would recommend these to all professionals.