Kirthiga Reddy to tackle mid-career drop off for working moms
Once in an interview, Kirthiga Reddy said – “Make Career and Family coexist and work it out”. This advice came from her own experiences as a working wife and a working mother. She emphasized the idea that women should never be wavering or waiting for the right time to enter motherhood and make choices between career and family. For her, it’s always a great time to have children. What she learnt and offer is “Push the boundaries and convert ORs into ANDs”. She believes that women need to push her boundaries to realize the power of “AND” rather than getting stuck with a tyranny of “OR”.
This blog talks about the personal and professional journey of Kirthiga Reddy, and her plans to address mid career drop off for working mothers.
The Brief about Kirthiga Reddy
Born in 1971, Kirthiga Reddy is an Indian businesswoman and venture partner for SoftBank’s US$100 billion Vision Fund. She is the first female investing partner at SoftBank and has formerly served as the managing director of Facebook India. In 2011, She became Fortune India’s top 50 Most Powerful Women. Kirthiga also won the accolades of being India’s top 25 Influential Women.
She is now serving as a President of Athena Technology Acquisition Corp II’s, which is an all-women and third within the Athena family of SPACs. It is led by FinTech founder and venture capitalist Isabelle Freidheim. Founded in 2021, Athena is essentially a network of women run technology SPACs. It is focused on bringing a high performing and mission driven company to the market. The company closed three IPOs in 2021.
Reddy was born in India to middle-class parents. She finished her Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering from MGM’S College of Engineering, India. Kirthiga then moved to United States and did her Master’s in business administration from Stanford University. She also secured M.S. in computer engineering from Syracuse University. Post completing her masters, she worked with established companies such as Silicon Graphics and Motorola.
In 2010, she joined Facebook India, as the first employee of the company. Kirthiga made exemplary contribution to Facebook growth. She started the India operations from scratch and managed not only to grow India’s operations but also made remarkable contribution to its global business.
As Kirthiga Reddy advanced in her career, taking prestigious roles in big organizations, she formulated a years-long strategy to strike a balance between her personal and professional life.
“I decided early on that I was going to work really, really hard when my children were young, To be in a place to have more flexibility when they were teenagers.” – Kirthiga Reddy
She emphasized that this was her “personal choice,” and not all women need to make the choices that she made. However, all women should definitely think about the situations where it seems like an “OR” and is there any way that they can be converted to “AND”.
How Laddrr was founded?
Kirthiga Reddy successfully achieved an ideal balance between her work and family, with her own defined principles. However, she realized that many women across the globe face this challenge.
She studied facts on the persisting gender gap in the workforce participation, particularly in the leadership roles. As she cited, in India, there is 42% female enrolment in colleges, 32% in entry level jobs, and less than 1% at senior CXO levels. The situation is not so different in the west. Only few women reach the top position, even if they outpace men in college graduation. As a matter of fact, only 8% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women.
Kirthiga Reddy also cites data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which found that a gap of just one year employment can reduce the woman’s pay by 39%. And a woman with a successful career and great prospects has to start all over again, in case she is off the work for 2-3 years.
To address these globally prevailing challenges, Kirthiga Reddy, along with Ashutosh Garg, co-founded Laddrr.
Launched in June 2022, Laddrr is a coalition of enterprises and institutions that brings innovation throughout the whole journey of parenthood, from planning through pregnancy and child-rearing. The company extend support to young adults, parents-to-be, parents, and corporate managers. Moreover, it partners with organizations and companies worldwide to change culture, policies, and processes.
The Laddrr founding team includes members in all stages of family life, with each one of them balancing and managing in their own way. While some of them, have worked throughout their parenting journeys, others took career breaks that were longer than planned and thus made it harder for them to recover.
How Kirthiga Reddy aspires to address mid-career drop offs for working moms
Laddrr is a platform to support women with their ongoing careers as well as helping them return to work, after a career break. The company plans to educate and train women on variety of topics. This can include the conversation with their manager about parental leave or guidance on upskilling. Besides, it aims to reach corporations and encourage them to do more to support mid-career employees with children. This includes extending from at-home support to career development guidance tailored to their stage of life. The company intends to serve women based predominantly in the U.S., Europe, and India.
Ultimately, the company’s goal is to educate, advise and coach women at a critical juncture of their careers.
While the last century marked a paradigm shift concerning women in the workforce, we still need more refinement.
Learning from their own experience, Kirthiga Reddy and Ashutosh Garg aims to transform this landscape for working moms through Laddrr.
Authored by Ekta Bhatia