As an operations professional deeply passionate about women’s empowerment, Monisha Mukhija ’11 noticed that companies often tend to focus their efforts to increase representation of women in executive ranks. While this is undoubtedly important, it is also equally important to empower and ensure a growth path for women in lower-level positions because as Mukhija shares, “the pipeline to leadership is actually severely affected due to inequities that exist much earlier on.”
As a business operations manager at T-Mobile, the second-largest wireless provider in the U.S., Mukhija is responsible for driving an effective rhythm of business, overseeing finance and budget, and implementing measurement-driven strategies to drive efficiencies, support long-term planning, and maximize business impact. In addition, she serves on the DE&I Council to help foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture in her organization. “I am super passionate about gender equality and empowering women. In addition to being actively involved in this effort at work, I also wanted to make an impact in this space outside of work – to reach and impact women outside of my company.”
To do just that, Mukhija launched Biz Queens, a blog that offers actionable tips and tricks for early-in-career women. “The content that I’m producing is gender-neutral and can benefit any individual – career pathing, building meaningful professional relationships, networking, building influence, etc. However, I’m proactively reaching out to women specifically to help address early-in-career inequities,” she says.
Here are three tried tips from this Queen of Business herself:
On Networking: It’s important to build and nurture your network ongoing, not just when you’re in the market for a job. This continued investment is key to establishing long-lasting, non-transactional professional relationships, which can help you organically find mentors and sponsors, and unlock career opportunities. Aim to have at least one 30-45 minute “coffee” chat a week to learn from someone you don’t regularly work with – perhaps someone in a different profession, department, or company altogether. Even if you don’t need anything specific from them right away, simply ask if they’d be willing to stay in touch. And, make sure to nurture that connection!
On Business Acumen: Strong business acumen is critical to making key decisions to drive a business forward. Strengthening this muscle early in your career can enable you to be more effective at your job and help build influence with senior management. Following business news, subscribing to business-focused newsletters and podcasts, and listening to quarterly earnings calls (where publicly traded companies discuss financial results with investors, analysts, and media) are all ways to get comfortable with business and financial jargon, and to understand the big picture of a company’s strategy. For the latter, you can start with identifying one to three companies whose earnings calls you’ll consistently tune into.
On Learning & Development: If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that your learning doesn’t stop at graduation. If anything, it’s just the beginning. Adopt a growth, learn-it-all mindset and make it a point to constantly invest in your learning. This will help keep your mind sharp, attitude flexible, and skills up to date – and will also make it easier for you to map out your career path. Access to the internet and the innovation that has spurred as a result has made it so much easier to engage in online learning (LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, virtual coaching, etc.) Take full advantage of those tools!