When I interviewed at Intel in 1996, I was asked where I wanted to end up in the long term. I said with full conviction that one day I would be the company’s country manager in India. It was my dream from Day One. Today, I feel very privileged to be living the dream, but it wasn’t always a sure thing.
I tried out a variety of roles at Intel in the first few years before finding my passion. Intel was collaborating with governments and academic institutions across the globe to drive transformation in education through technology, and I had the privilege of setting up its education program across Asia. This is one of the many points in my life where I was grateful to be a woman: My natural ability to handle ambiguity enabled me to tackle the challenges of setting up something from scratch and grow the Asian education program into one of Intel’s foremost initiatives globally.
In 2005, I was given the opportunity to change groups to head marketing in Southeast Asia. It was a tough choice. On one hand, I had something I was passionate about and making a real difference in. The new job was totally out of my comfort zone, and it involved moving to a new country. Worse, while I had established myself as a strong leader in the education group, I would have to start all over again if I made the move. It was a tough decision, but my father reminded me of the goal I had set for myself when I joined Intel. I still wanted to head the India business one day and the sales and marketing path seemed to lead right to it.
I accepted the position and have not looked back since. Within a year, I was promoted to country manager in Malaysia and the next year I took responsibility for managing all of Southeast Asia, one of the fastest growing regions in Asia. Finally in 2011, I realized my dream of coming back to India to head Intel’s sales and marketing in South Asia.
The best part is that throughout my journey, I’ve been able to leverage my passion for technology and education and my experience working with governments. The skills I honed early in my career became major assets as we worked through strategies to drive greater technology adoption across the region.
We have to work towards accomplishing our dreams if we really believe in them. This will always involve taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zones. The worst that can happen is failure, and with every failure comes rich learning that can open up new ideas and opportunities.
Today as I look back, I’m glad I decided to take the leap of faith in achieving my dream! And I am very grateful to my family for encouraging me to do it.