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Life as a working mother: Bhairavi's story

Published:
03 March 2020
Bhairavi Popat is vice president of customer excellence & operations for Castrol in India. Having joined as a graduate back in 2002, Bhairavi has worked at BP for almost 17 years and has been motivated by the opportunities to work in different functions during her career
BP Mumbai

After becoming a mother, Bhairavi has managed to maintain a healthy work-life balance whilst still making her way up in the organisation. 

 

What does ‘balance’ mean to you?

 

Whilst having an even split of men and women is important, Bhairavi believes that balance is more than just about achieving gender diversity. As she explains, “balance is about finding the winning combination between work and life, leading and following, and rational thinking versus following your heart.”

 

What makes BP stand out for her is the corporate culture that focuses on respect and inclusion:

We don’t just work towards having more diversity in the organisation, there’s a huge focus on inclusion – with Respect being one of our core values.

As she explains, “It is not just about having gender balance in terms of numbers, but about being a great employer and supporting individual employees, regardless of their gender. It is important that we recognise, understand, accept and even encourage individual differences to deliver the best possible outcome.”

 

Life as a working mother

 

After 10 years of working in BP’s Castrol business in India, Bhairavi took a career break to have her daughter. When she returned to work after maternity leave, BP supported Bhairavi to manage the transition back to work and into her new role: 

What was great was that I was given confidence and reassurance to take my time, have my break and know that BP had my back.

She points out that “no one questioned if I was able to manage the opportunity along with my new commitment as a parent.”
Bhairavi adds: “An organisation needs to recognise these critical junctions in employees’ lives and support them. This makes a company move from being a mediocre employer to an exceptional employer.”

 

Speak your mind to make a difference

 

Bhairavi is proud of BP’s open and collaborative culture that encourages employees to speak up and be heard: “Since the day I joined to today, I have never had to stop and think twice about sharing my honest opinion,” she says. “I have never found someone stepping back or thinking they shouldn’t be speaking up. It doesn’t matter if you are a trainee or senior level executive, everyone has equal opportunity to share an opinion.”

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