Born and brought up in Mumbai, she went on to study finance and marketing at Wharton Business School. Marriage, managing the family business and then becoming a mother happened - a trajectory that many women identify with. Says Neha Bagaria, "I was supposed to get back to work but I kept extending my leave and the break lasted for three-and-a-half years. At one point, I was frustrated and also realised that it was important for my two boys to live in a gender-balanced environment. When I called my friends – architects, lawyers and engineers - I realised that all of them were on a break and had lost the confidence to get back to work,"

This was the inflection point for Neha Bagaria. She started her own venture, JobsForHer, in March 2015. She had read a study conducted by the World Bank, which stated that 20 million Indian women quit jobs between 2004 and 2012. Around 65-70% of women who quit never return to work at all. "We can’t afford to lose out on the talent. And that’s our mission at JobsForHer — to get more and more women to return to work," she says.

“With an increasing number of women dropping off mid-career due to various reasons including marriage, relocation and motherhood, it’s important not to lose this talent pipeline.”

At a recent event conducted by JobsForHer called HerRising (where Amazon was the Gold Sponsor), which enables women to restart their career, we caught up with Neha for a quick Q&A. Excerpts:

How do events like HerRising, which concluded recently, help the working woman?

COVID has brought on difficult times for all of us and events like these ring in optimism and hope. This is the 4th edition of the HerRising - JobsForHer’s flagship event and Iam happy it was successful. In my view, the overarching goal of the event is to bridge the gender diversity gap in the workforce by enabling more women to start, restart and rise in their careers and to connect companies to this talent pool under one roof.

And an event like HerRising gives job seekers and employers a common platform to interact, engage and hire the best talent from across the country. What was heartening to see was that in its virtual avatar, HerRising 2020 saw 3500+ women participating in the career fair. With 700+ job opportunities from top companies of India Inc. the event opened up a wide variety of roles for women who are starting, restarting or rising in their careers.

How does a partnership with an organization like Amazon benefit?

With an increasing number of women dropping off mid-career due to various reasons including marriage, relocation and motherhood, it’s important not to lose this talent pipeline; it is important to create a smooth transition for them to return to the workplace with confidence.

“An event like HerRising gives job seekers and employers a common platform to interact, engage and hire the best talent from across the country. What was heartening to see was that in its virtual avatar, HerRising 2020 saw 3500+ women participating in the career fair.”

Returnee programs for women are great in ensuring that these women are given the rightful opportunity to step back into the professional world. Amazon’s flagship program rekindle — developed for women, who wish to restart their careers has brought women from different industries and backgrounds with varied experiences and career breaks back into the workforce. Through focused mentoring, structured on-boarding, flexible work options and periodic check-ins, they support rekindle candidates in regaining their confidence and successfully ramping up.

It also opens up opportunities for women to take up leadership roles as they grow from strength to strength one milestone at a time in their professional journey.

You've worked with a lot of women performing diverse roles. What is your one piece of advice for women who are

a) Resuming their career journey after a break

Don’t hide your wings, flaunt them. Showcase the life skills you picked up during your break and how that adds to your repertoire of skills to make you the perfect candidate for the job.

b) Pursuing a career in tech

Invest time and money to upskill yourself and stay updated with the latest technologies. Resist the temptation to move from core engineering roles to non-tech roles for the want of more flexibility - instead ask your manager for what you need, to remain productive while juggling multiple priorities.

c) Looking to rise to leadership positions

Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Use your unique leadership skills to your advantage. Focus on building your leadership skills around Time management, crisis management, critical thinking, problem solving, negotiation skills, empathy, compassion and appreciation.