Alumni Authors: Found Again – Real Stories of Women, Work & Flexibility by Shreya, Deepa and Rashmi, PGP 2008
Found Again: Real Stories of Women, Work & Flexibility is a book authored by Shreya Prakash, Deepa Narayanaswamy, and Rashmi Rammohan. Founders of Flexibees, this dynamic trio is telling tales of twenty spirited, strong-willed women.
The book presents a collection of inspiring stories from women who have successfully navigated the challenges of balancing work and personal life. Through their book, the authors offer insights into the real-life experiences of women who have found ways to achieve work-life balance and flexibility, providing a valuable resource for readers seeking guidance and inspiration
What was the reason behind choosing the title ‘Found Again’, and what motivated you to compile the narratives of 20 women?
Most of us today know that women’s workforce participation is at a dangerously all-time low figure that resides in the early 20s, at times plunging into the late teens. We have all heard about the “missing” women of India’s workforce, the ones that the statistics cry about and the reports declaim.
But rarely have we heard from the women themselves, the women behind these statistics, the women who the reports say are missing.
They exist. And they are no longer willing to be missing.
“Found Again: Real Stories of Women, Work & Flexibility” is our, FlexiBees’, attempt to bring these women and their heroic journeys into the spotlight, so more people understand their challenges, empathize with their dilemmas and root for their success. This book is a collection of true stories of twenty women who we work with, who have found their way back to professional fulfillment, who have created their own unique career paths, paths that align with their life needs.
What was your process for selecting the stories included in this collection?
It wasn’t easy. Over the last few years, we at FlexiBees have spoken with a few thousand women about their professional journeys, about the reasons they left the workforce and the reasons they wanted to join back in. Each of these life stories has been different, inspiring and enriching.
We had a tough time choosing, but we made peace with it thinking there would be other editions. For this edition, we selected a mix that highlighted different aspects of the returnship journey, and a few where the protagonists actively decided to work in an “unconventional” arrangement by choice. We were intentional about including narratives that stretched from the Metros to the thriving towns of India, and about representing diverse functions and skills.
How do you hope your readers will connect with these stories and the women featured in them?
We think that everyone will find something of value in it, women who will see themselves in these stories, women who will aspire to, people who resonate with the idea that the duality of having to choose between work and family is antiquated, and team leaders who will hopefully be motivated to design more aligned programs to tap into this driven and experienced talent pool.
After the book has been released we are constantly surprised with the places it is going. People are gifting it to friends and family, to bosses who championed women, to young women aspiring to be tomorrow’s leaders, to women who have made the arduous returnship journey and can take pride in their stories being told, to business and HR leaders, among others.
What according to you will be a takeaway for readers of this book?
First of all, we want the voices of the women whose stories these are, to be heard. Their challenges to be acknowledged and their victories to be recognized.
Secondly, we hope that our stories will inspire and inform those who may be in similar situations themselves, who can glean insights or actions from those of our real-life heroines.
We also think people will take away the fact that there is no one way to build a career. And that one can do fulfilling work while working on their own terms.
And finally, to paraphrase Mr. Ajay Banga as he so kindly, among many others such as Indra Nooyi, Meena Ganesh, Apurva Purohit and Anita Bhogle, wrote a note of support for our book, we hope that these stories will show global companies the means to unlock this experienced and driven, yet overlooked, talent pool through flexible work.
How did founders being co-authors come about? Was it helpful?
Once we decided on the idea of the book, it seemed like a no-brainer for us founders to write it. FlexiBees was started with the vision to help talented and driven women professionals return to work, and today, even more so than the day we had started, we feel strongly about the need to create these avenues for professional women who are unable to participate in the workforce despite having the skill and the willingness. We understand the choices they made, and we believe in their ability to positively contribute to and transform the organizations they work for.
It just made sense for us to be the vehicles that brought the voices of these incredible women to the people, for everyone to see them the way that we see them, that many others today see them, and the way they see themselves.
Were any of the stories based on personal experiences, either your own or those of women you know?
All of the stories were based on the personal experiences of the women we know! All of the women featured have worked closely with us, either in our own teams or via us in other organizations.
Is there a story that stands out, for you? and why?
Each story is different in its own way.
Neti’s crisis of confidence as she, a consummate sales professional who after a break of a few years and repeated attempts to get back in, started feeling that she perhaps didn’t have it in her anymore, to do the job, to do any job.
Arpita’s path-breaking journey from Bhilwara to Bombay as she defied all social norms to get the best of education and work experiences, but how the same driven individual, after a few years of a career break, found it tough to find any jobs.
Sanjana’s decision early-on in her life to build her career remotely, as that enabled her to be her most productive self; Nithya’s determination in 2012 to work from home when no one had even heard of the concept, and making it happen for herself; Swati’s resolve as a single mother to provide both financial and emotional support to her daughter; Bansi’s hunger for work that led her to start an apparel business and become a Yoga instructor when other opportunities had dried up; Sonal’s indomitable spirit that propelled her to join back work with a 9-month-old and give each aspect of her life her very best.
Vidushi’s choice to go from heading the Treasury function of a listed company to creating a flexible career path for herself as deputy CFO of a funded start-up enabled her to do her best professionally while spending more time with her family and herself.
Shipra’s rise within the company to the head of a function after a 7-year career break, that many myopic organizations would look askance at but that belied 7 years of constant learning and re-invention that ultimately resulted in her finding her place in the sun.
Each is unique, each stands out.
Are there any particular authors or works that inspired you while you were writing these stories?
This book has been co-authored by the three of us co-founders of FlexiBees, and between us, we had more than one inspiration. We were inspired by the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series that has brought into the open so many inspiring stories of people from across the world and helped many through its multifarious and diverse perspectives. We were influenced by books like “Desperately Seeking Shahrukh” by Shrayana Bhattacharya and “Equal Yet Different” by Anita Bhogle, to weave real-life narratives with broader trends that allowed the reader to interact with each story at both these levels.
Those interested in purchasing the book may do so from the link below –