Breaking the glass ceiling

2021-03-08

Meet Sadhana Sheth, Head of Government Affairs of Siemens Healthineers India. After she's been working at the company for thirty years, she speaks about her key to success in her professional life, how she was able to assert herself and what she advices young women for their early careers.

For two years Sadhana has been leading the Governmental Affairs department, and she’s fully engaged: “Healthcare is my passion!” After completing her thirtieth year at the company in 2020, Sadhana looks back at a long and successful career at Siemens Healthineers: Starting out fresh from a university campus as a commercial trainee moving to corporate strategy, and later managing and successfully rebuilding the Business Line Point of Care Diagnostics in India.

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The official theme for this years International Women's Day 2021 is #Choose to Challenge, recognizing the need to call out gender bias and inequality. Sadhana challenges by always be assertive, making her point clear and questioning the status quo.

She was the only woman in her immediate work environment during most of her career, whether it was in her Global MBA Program, in leadership meetings, or in her role as a business leader. Sadhana never had the feeling of being excluded by her male colleagues, and never experienced any restrictions in her career though: “I’ve never felt stifled at any time: I was always able to make my point, question the status quo to achieve my goals.”

Did she have a specific formula for success? She always spoke up and believed that she did the right thing: “I’ve grown with this approach: fearlessly and politely making my points and showing my presence. Not keeping quiet, not getting intimidated. I speak my mind without being too forceful or dominating.”

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Sadhana in her office in Mumbai

Although Sadhana made her way up in the organization and charted the path with perseverance and determination she is well aware of existing gender issues. She remembers a meeting with only male colleagues discussing a suitable candidate for a prominent sales role. Several qualified female candidates had initially not been considered for various reasons. “In that meeting, I had to ensure that those qualified candidates got a fair chance. It felt like breaking the glass ceiling for them,” Sadhana remembers. “I’m convinced that nothing is impossible.”

She believes that it’s especially important for young girls to strengthen their belief in themselves and never give up: “They can achieve everything. They need to pursue their goals; they need to be strong and committed and have a strong value system.”