Neha Bagaria believes in getting women back to the workplace
It was a beach wedding at Bali which Neha Bagaria attended with her husband and two kids, aged three and a half years and six months, which made her sit up and take notice.
My elder child was behaving cranky. He was doing everything expected of a three and a half year old but I got mad at him. I thought he let me down that day and all my sacrifice to give up on a lucrative career to raise up my kids into model children went waste.
That night, she got into a long discussion with her husband and got back to Bengaluru to rejoin her husband’s family business at Kemwell.
On discussing with friends and doing a survey, Neha found out that she was not the only one in the tribe. There are many mothers like her who opt for a sabbatical and do not wish to get back to their careers thinking that the companies would not take them back.
To find out the reality, Neha undertook a survey with some of the top companies and the statistics clearly proved otherwise. They said they were more than willing to take in women employees post their sabbatical but did not know where to go looking for the talent pool.
The idea clicked and Neha started up JobsForHer on International Women’s Day. Its tagline reads, ‘Ready|Set|Restart’.
An entrepreneur at heart
Entrepreneurship was Neha’s calling from the very beginning. She found Paragon, a firm to bring advanced placement programme to India, while she was in her last semester at college. This was because, despite completing her class 12 in India she had to repeat all those classes at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania while pursuing her undergraduation in Finance and Business Studies.
“No one recognized our Indian Boards there, so I decided to help students by getting in this system wherein students could get credit for the same. Also, they could save money and pursue a Double Master’s in the same period,” says Neha. Neha, then 21, served as the College Board Representative of India, teaching students who were merely five years younger to her.
Then this Mumbai girl got married to a Bengaluru boy and moved base to Silicon City. Once here, she joined her husband’s family business of pharma manufacturing. “It was at an extremely exciting stage and I wanted to be part of the growth story,” says Neha who had to pull down the shutters on her debut entrepreneurial venture, Paragon, in Mumbai as she was not backed by a strong team which could provide the backup in her absence.
At Kemwell, Neha was responsible for drawing up the Marketing strategy, management of information systems and undertake lots of performance reviews, in short it was a great learning phase for her. For five years, she worked with her husband building up Kemwell.
It was in 2009 that Neha’s first child came along and though she thought she would get back to work right after her six-month-break, things changed drastically for her post-motherhood.
For someone who got back to work a week after returning from my honeymoon, I had thought getting back to work would be easy. But one look at my small, helpless child made me feel so responsible towards him that I opted in favour of a career break,
says Neha. The years passed by and she thought only she could do things perfectly well for her little baby and did not think of returning to work at all. After three years, her second child came along and she was forced to shift attention to the younger one and realized that the elder one was doing just fine.
In between too, when she attended a college reunion, with one child in her arms and pregnant with the second one, a classmate asked her what she was doing. And she pointed at her child and her baby bump as the answer. “The classmate gave me a look and asked again what I was doing on the professional front and I realized that all was not well with me. The kids could be raised perfectly well alongside maintaining a career.”
Neha saw her sister-in-law working and managing a child perfectly well in the US. Her resolve only got stronger and she turned entrepreneur once again.
Says Neha, Founder of JobsForHer,
Once I was convinced that my getting back to work would not negatively impact my children, I was fine with the thought and thought of addressing this very gap in the employment sector.
“This is a sheer waste of talent. When the reason is not compelling enough, the women should not take a break. If they however decide to take a break due to various genuine reasons like marriage (where they become a trailing spouse), motherhood or taking care of the elderly at home, there must be an avenue for them to get back – thus JobsForHer was conceptualized,” says Neha.
The platform called JobsForHer
JobsForHer sources jobs from the companies and lists them on their site. Women currently can search for their dream job free of cost and then JobsForHer forwards their applications to the concerned employer. The revenue model is similar to a Naukri/Linkedin business model.
“Women getting back to work come with all sorts of benefits – there is no notice period, they are experienced and settled in life too,” says Neha making a practical point. It amuses Neha to even think that women were earlier told to hide the sabbatical in their resumes lest they lose out on a potential opportunity.
That JobsForHer is getting popular is evident by its numbers. They get close to 2,000 clicks per day.
She greatly admires Sheryl Sandberg. Her book ‘Lean In’, which has her personal story, is a daily dose of inspiration for Neha. Also Neha’s younger brother, who started up Fantasy Cricket League Dream11.com, manages to inspire her a lot.