Prativa Mohapatra, vice president and managing director, Adobe India, took over the position, last month. With over two and a half decades of experience, Mohapatra has worked in PwC India and IBM. She's the first woman leader to head the India operations. Mohapatra shares her thoughts on mentors and the process of mentoring.
Who do you consider your mentor (a non-family member) and why?
I am fortunate to have had several mentors throughout my educational and professional journey. Specifically, I am grateful for having worked with both men and women mentors as my guides, many that came from different walks of life. This diversity in thinking has always opened my eyes to a wide range of perspectives and allowed me to shape ones that worked best for me.
One major insight/change you worked on with your mentor's guidance?
My mentors have always reminded me to believe in the power of being my authentic self. Even in dire circumstances, I’ve felt encouraged to push my own thinking towards finding alternate solutions. Another thing that has stayed with me is the idea of not succumbing to self-doubts. I see myself as a separate entity from work challenges and lead with an innate awareness that situations don’t define me.
What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
To me, mentoring is a very important responsibility and it is simply about paying forward. Mentoring isn’t always about skill enhancement but also about dealing with life situations; situations where you don’t know the right answers or whom to ask those questions to. And that’s exactly how I like to mentor my colleagues at work - not just with work-related challenges but also on their personal front, with any crossroads that they may face.
What time do you wake up and what's the first thing you do after waking up? Basically, what's your morning schedule after waking up?
As a believer in the mantra "a healthy mind stays in a healthy body”, over the years, I have cultivated my own version of a daily fitness and wellness regimen. Typically, I wake up around 6 am and start my day with coffee and newspaper. I then I go for a walk. I enjoy fruits and a small bowl of nuts for breakfast. Once ready, I dedicate the first 15 minutes of my workday to zeroing-in on my two big goals for the day, followed by which, I power ahead on my planned schedule. The weekend regime is a bit different with a walk with friends in the nearby parks, some yoga at times or a few rounds of badminton.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
For me, the work from home model has given me some much needed extra time for myself every day. The absence of daily commute has given me more time to re energize my mornings and get set at my work desk for a productive day. This extra time also allows me to switch my professional and personal hats with lesser effort. Whether it is finding 15 minutes of quiet time before a major meeting or taking a quick walk to reset, I am intentional about taking small breaks in between my packed daily schedule.
Finally, I’ve always deeply valued people connections and found people leaning into each other with extra empathy during this exceptionally hard time. I have also enjoyed getting to know my colleagues better through virtual sneak peeks into their homes, meeting their family, their pets, etc.
Any book/podcast/app/videos you would recommend about mentorship and workplace growth? Why?
While I am an avid reader, my reading preferences have been quite dynamic and shaped by my personal as well as professional journey over the years. I recall 'Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office' by Lois P. Frankel being one of my interesting reads around the start of my career, as it gave me viewpoints on women’s behaviours and biases in the corporate world. Over time, I have always enjoyed reading Simon Sinek’s thought process on purposeful leadership and gone back to a few favourites like Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’.
While I’m currently enjoying reading 'Radical Candor' by Kim Scott around the crucial role of openness and dialogue at the workplace, I generally find myself hooked to any great read around life lessons. I love reading fiction as well. One of my favourite authors is Paulo Coelho. His books always give me calm courage.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.