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Look up! The sky is the limit
Srimathi Shivashankar Corporate Vice President and Program Director, New Vistas | March 5, 2021


‘Une voûte de cristal impénétrable’ meaning ‘an impenetrable crystal vault’ was coined by George Sand, a female French author. She expressed this phrase in the 1830s while describing a heroine’s agony on feeling her wings collapse and forming a ‘crystal shackle’ around her. This prevented her from ascending to the realms of her aspiration. This was probably the first time in history that the idea of an invisible barrier that prevented women from rising was spoken about. It was not until the late seventies in the United States, when women diversity advocates started using the term ‘glass ceiling.’ This term was often used to describe a discriminatory invisible barrier that prevented women and minorities in middle-management from reaching the top. Since then, the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ became more common across the world, with people responding to it in different ways—some dismissing it as a myth, some ambivalent about it, and others keen to understand how to dismantle it.


Looking back at the past, we must acknowledge the dedication of those who paved new ways by staying resilient through hardships. As we look to the future, we must believe that we are not defined by any barrier—invisible or otherwise. In the crucial present moment, it is important that we believe that we can be whatever we want to be. The first place that we break barriers is in our own minds. Continually perpetuating the idea of an invisible glass barrier only reinforces its strength in our minds. Instead, we can focus on what we can control and navigate, which is the course of our entire personal and professional destinies. We must not make the fear of barriers, the biggest barrier to our own success.


We live in a time when I feel that it’s time to leave gender out of the equation and focus on the individual instead. We come from a culture that extolls, worships, and honors the divine feminine that is in each and every one of us, irrespective of our gender. In a previous blog post on ‘Balanced Leadership’, I had written about how we need to go beyond gender and focus on balancing energies within ourselves and our organizations.

We need to go beyond gender and focus on balancing energies within ourselves and our organizations.

Leadership development is a way of life that you practice every day. Leadership is a state of mind where courage, determination, and grit are the core foundations. Leaders do not ascribe blame on others when the going gets tough. They focus on how to ‘win in the turns’ with courage, adapt to changes intuitively, and are not afraid to be the first to take risks.

Leadership is a state of mind where courage, determination, and grit are the core foundations.

Recently, I was fascinated to learn about the Namib Desert beetle that survives in one of the driest places on Earth in the southwestern region of Africa. This beetle may only be the size of a blueberry but its body texture helps it harvest water from thin air. This little creature collects droplets of fog and allows it to trickle down its wing case, right into its mouth. Scientists are inspired and baffled by this little friend’s fog-conversion practices and are researching into beetle-inspired technology to help deliver clean water in areas afflicted by drought. These little desert leaders have literally found a way to catch a cloud and pin it down!


I have the pleasure of seeing intelligent and intuitive personalities at HCL Technologies across the world shine every day. It is not their gender that stands out—it is their courage, determination, and grit.

At HCL, we encourage our employees to define their own paths and destinations. As a company, we provide an ambience that genuinely encourages entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration. Those whose entrepreneurship, innovation, collaboration, and leadership qualities will naturally grow and shine here—irrespective of their gender.

As a company, HCL provides an ambience which genuinely encourages entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration.

Charles Dickens’s iconic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, starts with the famous first lines:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Though these words were published over 150 years ago, I feel they hold as true today as they did in 1859. For ever so many reasons, it always seems that we live in the best of times and the worst of times. However, it is up to each and every one of us to make a choice. Do we want to believe or be skeptical? Do we want to hope or despair? Do we want to shatter or matter? Whatever we choose—the choice for innovation and collaboration, and to foster leadership qualities, leadership skills, agile leadership, and leadership development, is very much ours to make.

When I look up, I see the sky which, for me, holds the promise of the infinite. It offers me a peek into its various moods through the day—sometimes bright, many times cheery, sometimes pondering if it should shower rains on us or not? But, all the time reminding us that there are simply no limits when we look up.

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