We had the good fortune of connecting with Sangeetha Vasudevan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sangeetha, is there something you believe many others might not?
One of the most common piece of advice I often come across in the professional world is “Don’t burn bridges”! This advice is strongly propagated by the experienced professionals, the Human Resources fraternity, and even some seasoned recruiters. However I don’t think this approach necessarily holds good and yields good in ALL situations.
For the most part, the advice “Never burn bridges” is good advice, but there are exceptions to every rule. I feel in some situations, some bridges are meant to be burned and are in fact desperately ought to be burned. Toxicity in any situation should never be tolerated, be it in the workplace or in personal relationships. I have seen that, in general, there is an inherent pressure to tolerate a job or work environment, even when facing a toxic culture or a bad manager, due to the fear of losing financial security, having gaps in resume etc. A workplace could be toxic for various reasons – subtle discrimination, gender bias, micromanaging, unethical and abusive or even silent bully or gossipy. Succumbing to a toxic work culture takes away the power from us. We should never underestimate the huge toll it takes on our mental and physical well-being and it can hurt our career in the long-run. I firmly believe that it is absolutely OK to leave bad jobs, especially toxic environments and managers. And in fact it is all the more important to let employers know why you are leaving even if it means you have to “burn the bridge”.
More than anything, have trust in your worth, stand up for yourself because no one else will and realize that you are too good to put up with toxicity that is killing your morale and mojo. Also, burning bridges is a way to make sure you don’t end up walking into the same toxicity again. There is never a better time than now to normalize this as we are currently in an era where companies are rising and giving importance to its employees and culture. Blow the whistle – for your own sake and for the future to change for the better! This isn’t advice to be rude or unprofessional at work. You can burn bridges without surrendering the high ground. Bad managers and culture costs companies money, resources, time and talent. And there is no need to be afraid of them or their impact on our future success. They need to be called out.
My career journey was definitely not all bed of roses and there were many such moments filled with challenges along the way. In the end, good or bad I am who I am today because of the choices I made. From my own personal experience, I have realized it’s not career suicide to speak the truth to power as long as it is done in a professional manner. No job or boss has the power to derail your whole career.
So my advice is “Don’t be afraid to burn bridges that lead you to nowhere”!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an experienced accounting professional working in the Technology industry on the Finance side. I am an immigrant from India who moved to the USA in 2015 and I have had my fair share of challenges and struggles in my career journey in addition to balancing my personal life being a mom of 2 young kids. I am originally from India from a traditional middle class family. Growing up, our families always gave a lot of importance to education. I completed my Indian Chartered Accountancy, which is a renowned course and the highest level of certification in Accountancy in India that requires a lot of dedication and hard work to clear.
Going back to the initial years of my career, I was in public accounting with the big accounting firms, popularly known as the Big 4’s, where it was a journey of tremendous learning and growth at a young age that helped me establish and set the foundation of who I am today. But it was an extremely busy life of high pressure, chasing deadlines, handling multiple clients and teams and constantly burning the midnight oil. It was different back then as I was young and curious to learn and was fueled by the challenges and opportunities. At the same time, I had fewer responsibilities and got my “me” time and social time with friends whenever I had to to strike a balance. As I set out, I was ambitious and decided to do the hard work in the beginning and was okay to slog it out the first five years to focus on my career so it will set me up for success in the later years.
Fast forward a few years, after a transformational phase of getting married, moving countries, adapting to new cultures, and becoming a mom, my priorities have certainly evolved and diversified over time. I moved to USA in 2015 as a dependent immigrant and faced a lot of turbulence in being able to continue my employment due to visa restrictions. I was persistent and thankful to the regulatory changes that opened up right in time, I was able to kickoff my career again in Finance and became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). I was slowly building something for myself which was very valuable to me and I did have several setbacks at multiple points due to visa issues causing unexpected employment breaks. Persistence is the key and I had my eye certainly on my career even while navigating through those turbulent times and other natural breaks due to maternity etc. I knew that I have to just keep doing what I can the best and this country definitely opens up opportunities if you have it and are ready to seize them. It was sure quite an exciting ride from where I started to being an established finance professional in the tech industry now and I would do it all over again and not change a bit.
To me, my kids and family is my top priority. Truth be told, maintaining a good work-life balance is hard maintaining a family, home, full time corporate career and being a mom of two young kids (4 year old boy and 18 months old daughter). I am always making endless to do lists in my mind and constantly juggling my brain onto multiple priorities. To me, striking a healthy work-life balance is extremely important. While I focus on having a fulfilling career, I encourage and appreciate setting healthy boundaries at work and respect following schedules and time discipline while still giving my 100% at work. At times, as a mom, I have felt the need to do “extra” to prove myself at work as I tend to feel guilty in taking time off to attend to my personal demands due to maternity, sick kids etc. Over time, I have realized it is OK to accept it and people do understand as long as we have an open and honest communication. Life takes us through various stages with different set of challenges, especially as a woman and a mom, and I have learnt it is OK to slow down and speed up accordingly, to figure out what it takes to be my own “self”.
Apart from my work and family, I am a big Hodophile! We enjoy travelling and experiencing new adventures as a family. It brings us closer every time and leaves me humbled, recharged and rejuvenated.
Further, I am passionate about helping aspiring young CPA students from India and other immigrant finance professionals, especially I am a big advocate for aspiring women in finance!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Houston is the city I moved into in 2015 after my marriage and I have to say that I have really grown to love this city. It just feels home next to my native in southern India where I come from. The Waterwall is one of my favorites for sure! I love the parks here. On weekends, you can catch us hanging out in the Memorial park, Buffalo Bayou park or the Hermann park with the kids. The Houston museum district is definitely worth a visit for art lovers.
Needless to say, Houston food scene is great too. I, personally being a vegetarian, and spicy food lover, would highly recommend some of the authentic Indian hole in the wall eat outs on the Hillcroft Lane to try their spicy Briyanis. Mussafer in Galleria is a great option for a mordern fine dining experience. Also I am a big fan of the Tex-Mex food here like Caracol, Xochi and El Tiempo. Houston has some pretty cool bars and coffee shops to hang out late at night too – Agora is a personal favorite!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As cliché as it may sound, it would not be complete without dedicating my shoutout to my family. My dad is my biggest inspiration in life. He is the one person I look up to whenever I am down and if I can call myself an independent and confident woman, it is because of him – the example he set and the values he instilled in me. If I live my life with half his zest and perseverance, I will claim to be successful. My mom, undoubtedly, is my source of unconditional love and on call therapist. My sister is like my second mom and growing up, I have learnt so much from her. My husband is my rock and best friend always. We are each others’ sounding boards – we share and discuss our candid perspectives even if having differing views, learn from each other and have each others back always! And lastly big shoutout to my most cherished kids who inspire me to be better everyday! They are my biggest cheerleaders and stress busters in life!
Further I have been lucky to have met many special friends and mentors along the way who have stood by me during hard times and pivotal periods in my life and I am ever grateful for that.
All in all, I am quite a spiritual person deep within and in everything I do, I am grateful to God for the blessings and the opportunities in life.