No barriers to success…

By: Rupinder Bahra, Head of Strategic Accounts, MetLife UK

In today’s world, having a more diverse and inclusive workplace increases creativity, innovation and progression.

Women can not only offer a different perspective to any situation but, for any business to be successful, views of both men and women are vital. It is often advertised that companies with more women in leadership roles are significantly more profitable than those without.

It is really important for any organisation to form a good bench of women leaders. If women do not see other women in leadership positions, questions often get raised if career development is an option and that is when companies lose good talent.

I joined MetLife in 2011 and although I have worked for a number of large corporate companies in the past, I have never come across a company that not only invests in your career and in your beliefs but is also so dedicated to supporting your wellbeing.

Over the last 13 years I have had 7 job roles, with each one being a step-up and an enhanced opportunity for growth and further development. There have been clear pathways, regular conversations and lots of learning opportunities for me to build on my skill set, ensuring I (like all employees) are always ahead of the curve!

MetLife continues to invest in women by building this into our focus areas: leadership, workforce, marketplace, and community & sustainability. This provides inclusive leadership development and offers women a variety of career support programs, including peer mentoring groups such as Lean In Circles, Women’s Business Networks and exclusive Women in Sales Executive programs.

I have always demonstrated inclusion in my career and my life. I believe it is important to be always authentic, both personally and professionally, and being part of our DE&I communities allows me to share my beliefs about all forms of inclusion to enhance the working environment as well as supporting my colleagues.

From a personal aspect, I was born to immigrant parents of Indian descent, and my 4 siblings and I learnt some very important lessons early on in life, least of all to work harder for what you want in life and never to use your colour or your gender as an excuse for not succeeding. My father was born in Africa, came to England when he was 13 and faced racial tension growing up in London, but still became a successful builder by his early 30s. As expected in Indian culture during those times, my mother stayed at home to raise the children, at the expense of her own dreams and ambitions.

It was this amazing woman who is primarily responsible for all I achieved in life. In a country she didn’t know with a language completely alien to her, my mother went on to raise her 5 children. All this back in a day before dishwashers, childcare, disposable nappies, microwaves and a whole host of other things that make our lives so easy today. Women of her generation showed that it was possible to be a working mother and raise successful children.

In 2002 my father suddenly passed away at the age of 50. In my early 20s at the time of his death, the shock of this happening changed me as a person, having to leave my studies to help with financial responsibilities, paying a mortgage and looking after my mother and other siblings. I realised then that we only have 1 life, and we have to be the best version of our self. I know now how important it is for me and my children not to just rely only on my husband’s career and income, how quickly life can change and how difficult it can be for a woman to be left without a husband and still provide for her children.

So, whenever those doubts creep in about whether I should be so focussed on my career, I remember why I am doing it and who I am doing it all for, my two sons. My husband and I are determined that while we have the ability to do so, we will work as smart and hard as we can to provide them with a bright future. I also want to show them the importance of equality and how a woman can be as successful as men in this World, so they carry that forward in their life and treat women with the same respect my husband gives me.

Thank you for reading!
Regards, Rupi



Women in Tech

To learn about more women's inspiring STEM careers, check out these videos from MetLife's recent Triangle Tech X conference.

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