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“When you have trust in your capabilities, your confidence serves as a magnet for tipping points.”

Seema Singh, Lead – HR & Talent Acquisition, Euro Exim Bank (based in India):

Smriti Pandey: What was the key tipping point in your career that gave you a big boost, and what was the outcome?

Seema Singh: The key tipping point in my career was being handpicked by Government of India, for the position of General Manager (HR Administration, Operations) as well as being the Chief Financial Officer for Bhartiya Mahila Bank. This was the first initiative to empower women through financial inclusion and financial literacy. I was instrumental in framing the bank’s mandated policies for HR, Administration, Finance, Branch Expansion, Risk, Audit, Marketing and Raj Bhasha. I helped in shaping the bank’s operations, ensured compliances with the regulators, and oversaw financial management as a leader in several important divisions. I had the opportunity to frame and promote programs that encouraged women to be financially independent, entrepreneurial skill building, and financially literate.

Another significant milestone in my career occurred during my tenure as the Chief Human Resource Officer, Chief General Manager and Chief Financial Officer of India Post Payments Bank (IPPB). IPPB’s objective was to transform banking services by utilizing India’s extensive postal network. My contribution in this role played a crucial role in enhancing financial literacy among millions and facilitating their transition to digital banking.

I headed one of the biggest training programs in the public sector where 5000 master trainers from the Department of Post were trained, who in turn trained more than 300,000 Gramin Dak Sevaks and postmen to deliver banking services.

How much of this boost resulted from careful planning, and how much was good luck?

I attribute, my being an active founding member of two important nation building projects of women empowerment and financial inclusion & digitalization to my good luck. However, when chance opened doors, it was careful planning, preparation and an execution with the respective teams that enabled me to handle the challenge successfully. Putting together a team to start a bank from the ground too required reflection and strategic planning equal to coordinating a ship’s building and journey at the same time. As they say, fortune favours the well-prepared mind. For me, taking advantage of opportunities was a result of proactive planning and strategic awareness, which made me ready to take advantage of lucky breaks.

What factors did you consider when making your plan? What obstacles did you encounter along the way?

First and foremost, I analysed the demography of the target area, understanding the unique characteristics and needs of the people I aimed to serve. This included assessing factors such as age distribution, income levels, and cultural nuances that could impact the adoption of my plan. Furthermore, I considered the literacy levels of the population, for education determines accessibility and usability of certain services. I also evaluated the availability and reliability of network infrastructure.

One of the major obstacles I encountered was the prevalent fear and apprehension surrounding the use of smartphones and digital technologies. To address this, I made programs to educate and empower individuals, dispel myths and misconceptions, while promoting the benefits and ease of use of digital technologies.

Throughout this journey, I encountered resistance to change and skepticism from colleagues and other stakeholders. There were moments of self-doubt, but I remained steadfast in my commitment to the cause. Quitting was never an option for me. I had to press on, stay committed and focussed. I sought support from mentors and seniors, and continuously strove to learn and adapt to overcome obstacles.

What is your advice for young women seeking a tipping point in their career?

For young career-oriented women, my advice is simple and practical. Please focus on targets and embrace a proactive approach and be willing to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. When you have trust in your capabilities, your confidence serves as magnet for tipping points.

Identifying a tipping point is also an art which we can learn only when we are fully clear about our aspirations and fully understand the challenges and hurdles. We need to sacrifice a lot on personal front and sometimes the family life too gets disturbed. We need to learn the art of maintaining work-life balance.

Even in the face of adversity, maintain unwavering determination and resilience. Setbacks can sometimes be stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks. Discomfort is a natural part of the growth process.

By adopting this proactive mindset, bolstered by self-assurance and a steadfast commitment to perseverance, you position yourself for success in your career trajectory. Remember, each challenge you overcome and every obstacle you navigate serves to strengthen your resolve and propel you closer to your goals.

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