20 Mar 2019 20:05 IST

‘Life is all about skydiving every single day’

MMA Women Managers Convention panel highlights “Fear and failures /thriving, not surviving”

“I have this one trait to not think too much when I want to do something, I just do it. For this, I thank my father; unlike others, he entertained no marriage proposals, and encouraged me to take up my higher studies. I did face many obstacles when potential employers would not hire female civil engineers. However, after my post-graduation I was hired,” said Febin MF, former Head of Proposals and Business-Defence BU, Larsen & Toubro, speaking at the Madras Management Association’s Women Managers Convention recently. She tweaked the topic of discussion ‘Fears and Failures’ to ‘Winning the Unknown’.

“I landed my first project from the Ministry of Defence after two years of unsuccessful attempts. I dealt with many rejections and disappointments but had a supportive management. Once, I travelled to a high-altitude place, Khardung la, without knowing that one has to get acclimatised before climbing to that altitude. This project was to design housing for jawans. I lost my orientation for 20 whole minutes due to low oxygen levels. This situation was both challenging and unknown to me.”

She acknowledged her supportive family, with her husband never questioning her commitment to the job and understanding children who grew up mostly in her absence.

“I recently started my own design company, Structural, which brings me back to all the unknown challenges. In life, if you are genuine, sincere and dignified, ultimately you will reach your goal,” she concluded.

Step out of your comfort zone

Sujatha Vijay Vaidyanathan, Founder, Bamboola, said: “I had a fabulous childhood, and when I turned 19 my father found me groom in the US. By the age of 24, I was a mother of two kids. My life went around in a loop, where I spent all my time satisfying the needs of everyone around me. I had to fill the shoes of being a good wife, a good daughter-in-law, a good mother.”


“Before I knew I was a 35-year-old with little experience in life. When we decided to come back to India, and to my shock I found no crèches or structured play schools, that’s when my billion dollar idea came to birth,” she said, adding “I started, Bamboola, a daycare-cum-play school. There was a huge demand for daycare and after-school facilities in India. From four children we grew to strength of 400, and started expanding, in tie-ups with international schools and even corporates. Anyone who sees my profile on Facebook would say my life is perfect. However, I felt something was missing, one part of me was incomplete,” said Sujatha.

“My biggest fear was being alone. I wanted to know what I could do on my own, as I always had people doings things for me. So, I packed by backpack and went on a trek with complete strangers to Kasol. My first trek helped me break out of my shell. I learnt to live on a budget and the very concept of minimalising our needs was a life lesson,” she said.

“We are here to tell ourselves that our mind is stronger than our body. It is difficult to step out of one’s comfort zone, but once you do, it is a beautiful world out there,” concluded Sujatha.

Life is about skydiving every day


“Make your fears as your goals and your failures as your stepping stones,” said Wing Commander T Asha Jyothirmai. As a child who was scared of heights and water, she promised herself to get over her fears.

“I made my fear my goal and chose to be a skydiver for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Not all organisations will give you an opportunity to jump off an aircraft. Failure will always be there, but they will be the stepping stones for more challenges to come,” she explained. Asha, an accounts officer at the IAF, said there was no pressure for her to step out of her comfort zone. But she wanted to widen her horizons and her perspective to appreciate new things.

“Skydiving is basically a male-dominated sport in India and I am one of the few women who is associated with this sport. Women hesitate to skydive due to the many responsibilities they have towards their family. However, when you want to attempt something in life, just go ahead and do it. Life is all about skydiving every single day,” she said, smiling broadly.