It was October 2008 and I had just quit my job at Cognizant. I had also been feeling funnily queasy for a few days and every bit of discomfort I felt hinted toward pregnancy. My hunch was soon confirmed and there I was – holding a positive pregnancy report on one hand and an offer letter from IBM on the other.
IBM! Damn, this couldn’t possibly have happened at a more inopportune time! Could I ever be in a more dichotomous situation! It was the recession time and people were losing jobs left, right and centre and here I was holding an offer letter from a giant like IBM. And this was all for real! As real as the other reality that hit me a couple of days before IBM happened. The inexperienced and reluctant part of me contemplated if I should negotiate and push my joining by a year considering my full term and 3 more months. As if they would be waiting for me for a whole year! But then I could also in no way get maternity leave or extend it within 6-7 months of joining an organization…or so I thought!
The more reasonable part, however, won over the other and I decided to join first and then… Que Sera Sera…
My journey with IBM started in November 2008 when I was in my late twenties (very late, if I may add) and was perhaps going through the biggest transitional phase of my life. 1.5 years into my marriage and very early days of pregnancy, with my husband constantly on office tours, I spent half the nights thinking about how I would manage through the last weeks before delivery and a few months after. The other half was spent having peculiar bodily feelings and within a few months, strange movements within me! Starting two new things together, and both irreversibly unsettling, can’t really be termed as the best of situations!
I was scared my manager would scorn me the moment I requested my maternity leave or on any random day during my advanced days… And all this because back then (and I am talking about a time more than 13 years ago!) TPs did not come easily to whoever joined. Work station meant 3 items at least – a heavy rectangular metallic CPU, a back-heavy, space-eating huge monitor, and a keypad with a mouse… And log-ins and log-outs were tracked or noticed based on when you become green (come online and activate ‘I’m available’ on Sametime, the internal chat tool that preceded the much sleeker Slack! Not to mention that ST (as it was referred to generally, in sync with the organizational fascination of using abbreviations!) was not available on mobiles.
So, as my days neared, I kept wondering how to keep my job when I ask for the much-needed and dreaded maternity leave (back then it was just 12 weeks and any extra days were considered personal leaves!) just I was either going to lose the job or need to quit, I was quite sure. Or so my previous experiences and concerned others told me!
Cut to June 2022 – My son just turned 13 and I am now in my mid-forties and its been IBM all the way for both of us through all these years and I wrapped up my last day at IBM on 21st June – 13 years 8 months 11 days after I had hesitantly joined this mammoth organization. In fact, I was issued a laptop ahead of my turn as soon as my manager and his uplines came to know about my pregnancy. I delivered a project the Friday before the Sunday I delivered my baby and on my last call my project manager emphatically announced that I was ‘going to have a baby soon’ so was going on leave in front of my clients who all wished me luck for my upcoming delivery! That is the magic of IBM that kept me going for so many years – even through the terrible Covid times that changed our lives forever.
IBM helped me continue doing what I wanted to do without compromising on my family life and that is what puts IBM in a league ahead of others, simply for showing the way that all others are following in this time and age.
To move on is a trait of life, but this 111 year old organization is a rock-solid entity that stands rooted for over a century, too huge and too far deep to move. I, on the other hand, am, was…just a small little speck in the massive blue universe. So, I moved on, almost tearing on my last couple of team calls and on my very last day as I stepped out of the DLF Building. What I feel within is a void that perhaps one feels as relationships end, and this was a relationship! I might not hold an IBM email or employee ID anymore, but I hold IBM deep in my heart along with every single person I met and every wonderful memory I ever made there. Some bonds are forever!
Keep thriving, BIG BLUE!