The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, centered around the theme “Press for Progress” – highlighting women everywhere using their influence to enact positive change in their workplaces, communities and the world. To continue the conversation throughout March, we are highlighting a few Visa women who are taking action driven by their own personal passions. Bhavna Kumar from the Visa Bengaluru, India, office talks about growing up in a progressive family and her feelings on the climate for change.
Tell us about yourself and what you do at Visa.
I grew up in the beautiful city of Mumbai and am the youngest of three siblings. After completing my education, I entered the field of technology and have been a technologist ever since. I have been at Visa for nearly three years and currently lead the Performance and Site Reliability Engineering functions for the Merchant and Acquirer Processing team in Bengaluru. I am very fortunate to be a mother of an extremely fun-loving, and soon to be 15 year-old boy.
What ways do you “Press for Progress” at work and at home?
At work, I am focused on helping women progress. Fortunately, progress for women is wholeheartedly supported by the leadership at Visa. Specifically, in the Bengaluru office we are very conscious about supporting women. At home, my legacy to the world will be raising a boy who grows up to be a man who respects women. My son has always been surrounded by strong and courageous women whether they are his aunts, grandmother, or his own mom.
What challenges do you see in the movement to “Press for Progress”?
The biggest challenge I see is men feeling threatened, or the feeling that women are being given something special. For example, the state where I live recently announced a free education program for women. Regarding this announcement, one man I spoke with, asked, “what mistake have men made that they are not given free education?” I had to explain that if a family has a boy and a girl, but only enough money to educate one child, then they will educate the boy and not the girl. That exchange highlights the need for awareness that thus far, thing have not been advantageous for women and it’s important to partner with men in the journey toward improvement. It’s not us versus them, it’s us and them, together pressing for progress.
How did your family influence your desire to “Press for Progress”?
I am so lucky. I grew up in a family where men and women were always treated equally. I have an older brother and an older sister, and there is a decade between us. At home, I never saw my parents defer to what is common in other households like only asking my sister to cook or telling my brother to study. We all had equal opportunity in terms of what we wanted to do and tour focus on studies. My mother raised me with the idea that to work or not was my decision, but that I must always have the means to be financially independent. My family also helped me realize my potential. They encouraged me to pursue the best educational opportunities, even if that meant being farther from home.
What do you think is required for progress?
I truly believe that the current global environment is ripe for progress. We are on the cusp of change for the better. With movements such as #MeToo and others world over, people are realizing that it is important to have women at the table. There is a heightened level of awareness both in society and in the corporate world. At Visa, inclusive diversity is extremely important, and not just because of the social consequences, but also because it is a better for the business.