This week I will take you to meet Rati Chaudhary, a tenacious woman and my former colleague at CNN-IBN aka CNN-NEWS18, who embarked on a remarkable journey from journalism to corporate communications and a home decor influencer. Her path was strewn with challenges. But armed with determination and a belief in her own abilities, she defied the hurdles and forged ahead. Join Rati as she shares her inspiring tale of resilience against the odds with Mahima Sharma, Founder of THE THINK POT.
Hello Rati, Thank you for joining me at The Think Pot, to share your life story. Let’s start with what inspired you to pursue a career in journalism, and what motivated you to switch to corporate communications.
Rati: I come from a small city in UP where the political situation was always volatile. It was my dad’s dream to see me become a journalist as he believed they yielded a lot of power. I grew up working towards this goal, took part in debate competitions and also won many. When I became a journalist, I realized I was not interested in ‘world-changing’ journalism but in the whole content creation part of it.
In 2011, I moved to Mumbai after getting married. I didn’t get my favorable beat and the one I got needed for me to know Marathi. At that moment I decided to switch careers and move to the corporate side of things.
How did you manage to maintain your determination and resilience throughout your career journey?
Rati: I always knew I was ambitious and wanted to be financially independent more than anything. I could never take money from anyone for my own needs. I remember I was on sabbatical once and my mom said “Did we make you study so much for you to sit at home and be dependent on others for your needs?” The next day I started looking for a new job. It’s the same drive that makes me keep going.
I also read somewhere a quote in Hindi which said “Aapke paon ka kanta aap se hi niklega” which means only you can solve problems in your own life. That is so true. While you can depend on others for help and support, eventually it is YOUR and your life only. So the moment I have an issue now, I quickly go into solution mode.
Can you describe some of the hurdles you faced during your transition from Delhi to Mumbai and back, and how did you overcome them?
Rati: I won’t say hurdles but it takes time to adjust as both are very different cities. I had my romance with Delhi and I missed it a lot when I moved to Mumbai. After more than a decade in Mumbai, it is home now and I don’t think I will ever want to move back to Delhi. We tried going back after our daughter was born but it didn’t work out due to personal reasons.
Could you share some specific challenges you encountered during your maternity break, and how did you navigate those challenges?
Rati: The maternity break was smooth. I remember feeling so blessed looking at my baby Maya and just spending time with her. After maternity break, we decided to move to Delhi so that Maya has her grandparents around while we both went back to work. At that time managing nannies, postpartum, family expectations, settling in a new city, and a new set of colleagues was the toughest thing I ever did. We quickly moved back to Mumbai to save our marriage and sanity. I had depression for close to a year and took a short sabbatical. Once I was better, I quickly started looking for a job again.
How did you manage to find a remote job as the corporate communications head of Capgemini, and what impact did it have on your professional growth?
Rati: Capgemini has huge operations in India so it is not unusual for them to look for talent for some key roles here. They were looking for Comms Head for one of their functions and I happened to be at the right place at the right time. This role has been my first long stint in the proper corporate world and I think it is the beginning of a great career. The best is yet to come though.
Can you share a significant moment or experience that reaffirmed your decision to never give up on your dreams?
Rati: Many. I have always envisioned things in my head and pursued them with all dedication. From Journalism to joining an agency to the corporate world, moves have hardly been served on a platter. It takes time to see some results but it’s worth the whole journey and ups and downs. After my sabbatical and depression, I kept on looking for a job and got many rejections, it wasn’t easy. Finally, I was offered a contract role at HSBC. They sent me flowers for onboarding and I remember crying my guts out.
As a home decor enthusiast, how did you discover your passion in this field and incorporate it into your life alongside your professional responsibilities?
I remember as a kid I would just stand outside beautiful homes and stare. I have always been passionate about homes and home decor and have also always enjoyed content creation right from my journalism days. Once the content creation started picking up on social media, I knew it was a space I definitely wanted to get into.
What role did social media, specifically Instagram, play in your journey as a home decor influencer, and how did it impact your overall career trajectory?
Rati: As an influencer, I am on Facebook and Youtube, but I am mainly on Instagram with close to 28k followers. It’s my creative outlet and once in a while helps make some money. Apart from that there is no direct connection with my career as a corp comm professional. It definitely impresses people and establishes me as someone who knows the content and social media. I also tend to use my skills of content creation in my role as a corp comm professional.
Did you face any resistance or scepticism from others regarding your career choices, and how did you handle such situations?
Rati: My family, friends, and mainly my husband have always been supportive of my career, in fact, everyone is very proud. I definitely have had friends who tell me that I am “too ambitious’ or “can just enjoy on husband’s money’’. I try to meet them less. There will be people who will pull you down. I try to remind myself and it’s their own insecurities they are battling.
How did you manage to balance your personal and professional life, especially during times of transition and while pursuing multiple interests?
Rati: It has not always been easy. Particularly the time when I had to take a sabbatical and battle depression. Once I get back into a corporate career in 2020, managing everything has been a part of my life. I now thrive on chaos.
It is important to take some time off, meet like-minded girlfriends and travel.
Can you recall a specific mentor or support system that played a crucial role in encouraging you during challenging times?
Rati: My husband has always been my pillar. I made sure I built a tribe of strong girlfriends who always push me to be a better version of myself. I also have a great home caretaker who has been with us for 5 years. I feel I owe her my career and also taking such good care of Maya when I am not around.
What strategies or coping mechanisms did you develop to overcome self-doubt or moments of uncertainty?
Rati: Yes there have been such times. My drive to be financially independent and successful kept me going! There are moments like that but then I try to remember where I was and where I have come from. It helps me stay motivated. Also meeting my girl-friends over a glass of red wine helps.
How do you perceive the intersectionality of being a woman in the corporate world, and how did it shape your journey?
Rati: I worked with this one organization where women were treated with disrespect. After that, culture became my number 1 criterion to find a job. Thankfully, after that, I have worked only with very progressive organizations. Multinationals where women are treated with respect and equality. It’s been a very conscious move to work in regional and global roles too because of better culture. There is no other way I’d have it.
In what ways has your experience as a journalist influenced your work in corporate communications, and vice versa?
Rati: It is all about understanding your audience, creating content that resonates with people and good writing. A lot of journalists move on to become great corp comm professionals.
How do you use your platform as an influencer to inspire other women and promote empowerment?
Rati: I try to work with local brands that are powered by women. Often in my stories, I talk about women’s empowerment and balancing life.
What advice would you give to other women who may be facing similar challenges or contemplating career transitions?
Rati: I will first be absolutely clear about what you want in life. What gives you happiness? And then work towards it. If being a stay-at-home mom gives you happiness then be it. If being a successful corporate professional is your goal then work towards it. Don’t wait for things to happen or for others to do things for you but make things happen on your own. It might take time but good things will happen.
Having a great support system works. If you are not getting it at home then make one outside.
Looking back on your journey, what are you most proud of, and what are your aspirations for the future?
Rati: There are lots of things and moments to be proud of. Coming from a humble background in a small city, things have not been easy. I wasn’t even good in English in school and today I write for European multinationals. I am still waiting for a career break that will change my life and I feel it is very very close.
If you liked Rati’s life story and it made you smile, then don’t forget to share it with others. You never know, whom you might end up making smile today!