Two years ago, Sneha Singh relocated to Singapore from Bombay, India in order to pursue a career within a fashion tech unicorn startup. With the support of her husband, the partnerships manager took the bold move and they defied traditional expectations of being a newly-wed couple - that a woman’s career will take a backseat to focus on building a family and rely on her husband. Sneha shares with us her thoughts on becoming a truly independent person, as well as challenges to taking control of the narrative to her life, both in the workplace and at home.
It is a misconception that women do not make good managers. We are deemed too aggressive, too emotional, too catty - and these are just some of the phrases used to describe female managers. On the other hand, male managers in the same setting are regarded as ambitious and passionate.
Women are always told to rely for specific tasks on their male counterparts for inherently gender assigned roles. You got a job and are starting a career as a woman now? That's a great start! Let’s go go the extra mile - Learn to do your own taxes, invest your own money, pay your own bills and repair that bathroom light. It's okay to make mistakes and learn because gender should not dictate life skills. Do your research and push ahead.
I have been extremely lucky to have very strong role models both male and female in my career. The one lesson I will always remember is to speak up. Whether it's a doubt, a need to understand something better or not agreeing with a project path, it's very important to voice your opinion or ask questions multiple times till you are sure. This is the only way to learn and be heard.
The biggest challenge I faced in my career as a woman were the expectations placed upon us post-marriage. Everyone readily assumed that my priority would be my newly-wed husband and the house while my career was expected to take the back seat.
2 years ago, I moved alone to Singapore to pursue a career progression while my husband stayed back in India to pursue his. The scrutiny around the status of my marriage was astonishing and it took a long time for people around us to accept that two individuals in a marriage can both be ambitious and pursue their own careers. As women, we are expected to follow the husband's career path and not vice versa.
I overcame that with multiple conversations on how my career mattered as much as my husband's, and not letting society dictate my next steps. I moved ahead with the plans and it was the best decision of my career so far. So stand your ground and your conviction if you really believe in something.
My husband and I have divided all the house chores equally to ensure that we both have time dedicated to ourselves, our marriage and our families. We are both equals and should have access to the same amount of time without me as a woman being burdened with all the cooking and cleaning. After almost being burnt out in my previous job, I have also learnt to set healthy boundaries between work and when to cut off.
Self care is extremely important to me at least once a week to relax and de-stress. It's gratitude to my body and I indulge in a good skin care routine with a deep hair oil massage. A lot of times wine is also added to the mix :)
The best piece of advice I would like to give my 22 year old self when I started my career is to be kinder to myself and have faith in my abilities. It's always a catch - 22 situation trying to prove yourself as a woman in a working space but reaching the brink of a burn out because of unhealthy stress and no boundaries in the race. Have a cut off, put that phone on silent and take that time to appreciate what you have, the people around you and practise gratitude. Take that trip with friends and be confident about yourself.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photos c/o Sabrina Wee, Photo Editing by Faye Chan