Sonia Bhardwaj

General Manager-B2B Voice Service

The Three Musketeers

I was born and brought up in Delhi, in a nuclear family with working parents. I graduated in Science from Delhi University and even before the results were out, I joined one of the best learning institutions called “Airtel”.

My mother has been a key influencer in my life. I learnt a lot from her on how to carry oneself professionally and maintain a fine balance between professional commitments and personal life. My other influencers were my 2 sisters who taught me at a very early age what great team work is all about. We are the three musketeers!

Laying the Foundation

I did my graduation in science to satisfy my inquisitive nature. As a child, I always had multiple questions regarding things in and around me and my parents and teachers had a difficult time answering my questions.

I feel a solid foundation goes a long way in a great career. At the entry level the focus should be on learning and gaining knowledge. There’s no substitute to hard work. At middle management, one needs to hone networking and leadership skills as well.

My Airtel Story

I first heard about Airtel when I was in college while talking with friends about Motorola, Nokia & Alcatel handsets. I felt mobile telephony was the future and applied to Airtel. When I look back now, it’s been a really enriching journey and I am extremely happy about making that right choice in my life.

I joined the business control function which was part of the customer service team. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be a part of many first initiatives like Care Touch, Corporate Relations, and various transformation projects. During the first year of my joining we celebrated 1-lakh customers and I still remember the high we felt with that.

Airtel bets on fresh talent empowering them with key projects which is why we see so many success stories in the organization. I got opportunities to manage partner eco systems, craft strategies and lead large teams. My entire journey with Airtel has been really engaging and creative. It has helped me grow as a better professional.

Inspiring Leaders

Leaders at Airtel have been instrumental in shaping my career – some including N Arjun, Sanjay Nandrajog and C Surendran. They were the catalysts who enabled me to explore my highest potential. All my mentors encouraged me to challenge the status quo, believing in “Think Fresh & Deliver More”. During my motherhood phase, the leaders reinforced that it’s the best thing that can happen to a woman and advised me to “Keep moving, do not digress” and chase my dreams.

Work life balance

It’s always a tight rope walk. I try and manage as much as possible. I set priorities, delegate work and enjoy what I do to remain stress free. That’s the secret mantra!

Women at Airtel & Beyond

Right from my childhood, Kiran Bedi has been a great influencer especially her quotes: “When you are passionate about what you are doing, you become fearless and remain focused.” and “Nothing is impossible. Keep trying harder”.

My advice to millennial mothers would be - Motherhood is the best gift bestowed upon you. Enjoy it to the fullest; it’s not a stumbling block in your career. Keep the learning process on, prioritize and filter out unwanted, reach out for support and nothing can stop your growth.

Airtel as an organization is built on meritocracy and supports every woman through their thick and thin.