An inspirational working mum

Kamakshi Ramanathan


Kamakshi Ramanathan works as a HR Manager for Schneider Electric and lives in Chennai, India. She started her career working as an Executive Assistant for a Human Resources Director. This sparked her interested in HR and she immersed herself in the HR function of the business. From there she was promoted to the post of HR Digitisation and Performance Manager, a position she held for five years, and then progressed to be overall HR Manager.

In 2009, when she was 41 tragedy struck and her husband passed away very suddenly. Kamakshi threw herself into her career to help overcome the trauma and, within two years, she was promoted. She is one of three finalists for the international Working Mum of the Year title in Pitman Training’s SuperAchievers awards. This year marks the 180th anniversary of Pitman Training. interviewed Kamakshi about her career. What does your current role involve?

Kamakshi Ramanathan: My role involves independently driving the Learning and Development Initiatives across a team of over 600 plus associates.  I am responsible for the entire gamut of HR tools and processes. With regard to employee wellbeing, for instance, I have planned and organised multiple employee engagement initiatives, including cricket and table tennis tournaments. My role also involves focusing on the mental, social, physical and emotional development of associates and to this end I organised a programme called “DaanUtsav” for what was formerly known as Joy of Giving Week. It is a volunteer-driven initiative across India, which encourages people to do any act of giving of their choice. At Schneider we partnered with a nearby orphanage.

WM: How old is your daughter? What is she doing now?

KR: She is 22 and passed her Bachelor of Commerce degree with Distinction. She is doing her finals to become a Chartered Accountant in November and has passed all papers at the first attempt. She is doing her articles in one of the Top Five Global Audit firms.

WM: Have you faced any barriers at work due to being a working mum and has this slowed your career progression in any way?

KR: With the support of my family parents and husband, I was able to establish a fine balance between work and home.  When my husband died, I was working as an Assistant HR Manager specialising in HR analytics. My family gave me total support so I could focus on my work. When my daughter was 13 I did an MBA while working full time to help me progress my career. Over the past 27 years, I have learnt the art and science of managing my work-life balance. I must thank my peers, superiors, friends and family for being so helpful in my journey so far.

WM: Do you work flexibly?

KR: Yes, we have the option to work from home and the work culture here really helps working women get the best out of work and life.

WM: After losing your husband, did you have support from your workplace?

KR: I got a lot of support from peers, superiors and the entire eco-system at work and that supportive culture did play a vital role during the toughest phase of my life. I was given the time and space to heal.

WM: How important was this?

KR: I think my peers and the team were like an extended family to me and their support was very critical. They were able to understand and appreciate my state of mind and that was extremely critical in helping me to become what I am today.

WM: What you have learned through your experience as a working parent which you have found useful in your work in HR?

KR: I have come to understand the importance of empathy, patience and authentic listening when I was bringing up my daughter all alone and those skills have helped me in understanding my team and employees as well. My experience has given me an ability to put myself in other’s shoes and this is helping me grow as an HR professional.

WM: What would it mean to you to win the Pitman award?

KR: Winning this would mean a lot to me. After having lost my husband and having gone through testing moments in my life, having completed my MBA while bringing my daughter up on my own and seeing her develop into an outstanding student and a good human being, I feel this award would be a reward for my hard work. I hope too that I can be an inspiration for many other women in the corporate world who are going through similar difficult moments. The award will also motivate me to look forward and contribute more to both my family and to society.

*The Working Mum of the Year Award is voted for by the public. Voting closes today.

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