Working women shouldn’t feel guilty about the choices they make: Rubeena Singh, iProspect

Guest Column: Singh, the CEO of iProspect, spells out why there’s no substitute for hard work, irrespective of one's gender, to break the proverbial glass ceiling

e4m by Rubeena Singh
Updated: Mar 16, 2020 9:16 AM
Rubeena Singh

I was fortunate enough to break the glass ceiling as I took the helm of a large business as CEO before turning 40. And I say fortunate because my journey has been a confluence of coincidences coupled with clarity of purpose, lots of hard work and a healthy dose of good luck.

I think I was clear about where I wanted my career to get me to, very early on. I remember when I was interviewing for the second job, I was asked where I wanted to be in the next few years. My response was that I wanted to be the CEO of the company.

In my career, I have worked with mentors and bosses who gave me space and opportunity to prove myself without any biases. It’s my good fortune that I found my calling in the media industry, which is more gender diverse than most other sectors.

However, clarity of thought and a bit of good luck has no meaning unless they are fuelled by hard work and relentless perseverance to achieve one’s goals. There always trade-offs but having clarity of purpose makes them acceptable and not a sacrifice.

Through a large part of my career, I took on challenging roles and scaled multiple brands/ businesses. It wasn’t easy being a trouble-shooter, and it’s not a normal career path. But I was clear that if I was to be a CEO, I had to differentiate myself and taking on tough roles, which my peer set was (maybe) not so comfortable with, was one way to do it.

Looking back, I think what worked for me was my heightened self-belief in myself, for which I thank my family. I never shied away from asking for the plum role or the rewards when I delivered the goods.

I think this is where sometimes working women hesitate and perhaps lose out to their male counterparts.

And it worked, when I got the opportunity to head a large digital business when I voiced my view that I was ready for a business head role. It was a huge opportunity, but the timing was less than perfect. I was given this promotion after I had just delivered my daughter.

I was fortunate to have a supportive family rally around me and I started working part-time just after 6 weeks of delivery. This was out of my own choice and that was driven by the fact that the business needed me as it was the peak season. To balance things at home and the demands of my child, I continued to come to the office for a few hours and telecommuted for the balance time for almost a year. Today, my daughter is 7 years old and every day there are choices to be made, PTA or client pitch, stage performance or client meetings. These trade-offs will always be there.

What is important is that working women should not feel guilty about the choice they make - there is no right or wrong, it’s what makes you happy.

When I reflect on my career journey to date, I don’t recall situations where I faced a bias. I think I was so focused on achieving what I wanted that I probably didn’t notice or maybe brushed off/ ignored any bias that came my way. Having said that, today when I am heading business and work with a large team, I do realise that it is tougher for working women as they do battle bias, be it conscious or sub-conscious.

We at iProspect are trying to do our bit to remove/reduce some of these hurdles/difficulties that working women face. Women@iProspect, an initiative launched in 2018, is a small step towards it. Enhancing one’s chances to climb the ladder with much more confidence in our way of producing tomorrow’s leaders.

Similarly, we launched Female Foundry in India, last year, to support female entrepreneurs in the country. We want to build a healthy and rewarding digital ecosystem for all. Such small steps can create a big impact if we all come together.

Terms like the glass ceiling, concrete walls or career labyrinths have received significant attention in the last couple of years. And this has led to many organisations globally to relook at their hiring policies and diversifying the workforce. iProspect, globally, has women at leadership roles. Similarly, DAN too has some amazing women at the helm of various agencies.

We need to keep in mind that organisations will benefit from diversity as it will bring in varied ideas as well as enhance performance, outcomes as well as ethics. This will also help the younger generations to look at the workplace differently and seek more successful positions in the future. iProspect wants to be an employee-first organisation for men and women alike.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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