A Guiding Light: How a Top Woman Professional is Inspiring her Peers to Re-Enter the Workforce
April 24, 2023
After spending years at her prior company, Mohana Priya — a.k.a. Priya — joined Salesforce in search of new challenges and learning opportunities. Three years down the line, she is thriving in the Salesforce culture and actively shaping it; Mohana Priya is among those leading the company’s initiative to explore post-sabbatical possibilities with the Return-to-Work program.
Interested in knowing more about the Salesforce India Return to Work program? Read more about the experiences of our first cohort of women participants.
Succeeding in a fast-growing business environment
As Senior Director of Engineering for Industries Cloud at Salesforce, Mohana Priya leads a team of engineers for two high-transformation industries: Energy and Utilities, and Media. Having joined just weeks before the pandemic hit, she has seen the team grow exponentially, with a chunk of the expansion taking place during days of remote working.
From working on app releases for Public Sector, Media, and Energy & Utilities clients, to effectively collaborating with a global, cross-functional team regularly, Priya has done it all. “My role gives me the opportunity to work with some brilliant engineers and great leaders. It is quite exciting to see the impact our team makes; we see new customer success stories almost every day,” she smiles.
Ask her how she continues to meet the evolving demands of her role at Salesforce, and she points to the empowering organisational culture as a key factor. “I was lucky to be given the opportunities that came my way immediately after joining the company. And while I am passionate about engineering and the work I do, I also believe that achieving the ideal work-life blend is essential for people to give their best at work. Salesforce helps me do that.”
Nurturing new leaders with the Return to Work program
Having personally experienced the miracles that a supportive workplace can bring about, it is no wonder that Priya is fronting the company’s plan to empower women professionals returning from a break. “The Return to Work program, launched across our business in India, spans six months and supports professionals in their journey back to the office. This is a crucial initiative, especially in India, where women usually take career breaks to focus on other priorities. In my career, I have witnessed this fear among women that if they take a long break from work, they will lose momentum. I know many people who have struggled due to this perception. When they want to return to work, they often lack the confidence and evolved skill sets needed to succeed. The Return to Work program enables women to refresh their skills, "relearn some things, and relaunch their career." she says.
Simply put, the framework is designed to offer an ecosystem that brings returning professionals up-to-speed with technical and soft skills and enhances their self-confidence. After successfully completing a pilot batch of 15 professionals, Salesforce is now training the second batch of 60 women professionals across its India offices. After they complete the training, which includes guiding sessions and even 1-to-1 mentorships, the women get a chance to be formally inducted into the Salesforce workforce.
“Women from across industries, across functions, with work experience ranging from 1 to 9 years are included in this program. Since they are returning to the workforce after a break, we have ensured a fair selection and interview process,” explains Priya. Recognising that unconscious bias is another hurdle these women face, Priya adds that the program includes sensitisation initiatives for other stakeholders across teams.
Balancing multiple roles while enjoying life to the fullest
With the many hats she dons at work, Priya ensures she takes out time for herself to avoid burnout. “I need my ‘me-time’, be it spending time with my close-knit friend circle and family. Spending time with family and children is equally important to me,” says the parent to a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old. A self-professed foodie, Priya also tends to stretch into asanas or break into a jog whenever she finds the time. “I also take these long breaks, which allow me to disconnect and return to work refreshed.
I have often confided to my friends that without these, I would not have managed to work effectively for 20 years and counting,” says Priya, sharing her secret on achieving that elusive work-life excitement.
Ask her about parting advice for women professionals seeking to strike such a balance, and she says, “It is about knowing where your passion lies and focusing on the bigger picture. When you find the right place, environment, and team to showcase your passion, take the first step and have faith that the rest will follow.” She goes on to add that irrespective of confidence, commitment to one’s passion is what counts. “The purpose that you bring to the table is a big strength. Secondly, when it comes to women, we tend to be effective multi-taskers and emotionally resilient. I believe these are key strengths that every woman should consider while evaluating her growth possibilities, including those that await her in the office,” she states emphatically.