On International Women’s Day, Think Grain Think Feed engaged with women from governmental bodies, academia, and industry through digital platforms. Reena Rani from Novus India and Dr Merry Pradana from Novus Indonesia shared their insights via email, discussing their experiences in balancing personal and professional life, their sources of inspiration, and offering advice to young women embarking on their professional journeys. Scan the QR code for video coverage, and below are excerpts from the email interviews.

Women are considered primary caregivers to the family; would you please share your personal experience of managing personal and professional lives? How do you balance both?
“It is our responsibility to set an example to the next generation on how to balance professional and personal life.”
Here are a few personalized examples of how I incorporated these elements into my life, focusing on quality time with family, friends, and myself:

  • I continually reassess my priorities, I always try to reflect on what truly matters to me and how I want to allocate my time and energy. Family, health, and personal growth often emerge as my top priorities upon reflection.
  • I maintain continuous communication with my husband, he is my stressbuster. I always share my intention to find a better balance between work and home life with him, having support from him makes a significant difference in managing stress, making decisions, and enjoying my achievements. We share our responsibilities and work together to distribute household and parenting responsibilities in a way that supports both our aspirations and personal needs. Flexibility and willingness to take on each other’s tasks, when necessary, can ease the burden on both of us.
  • We take time to celebrate achievements together. Acknowledging progress and success reinforces the value of our partnership and the role it plays in achieving individual and shared dreams.
  • Realizing that I need time for myself and a chance to chat with friends, and cousins who understand me. It is like a warm hug for my heart in the middle of busy days. These moments alone give me space to just be me, without all the usual stuff I must do.

What piece of advice would you give to girls who are looking to pursue their careers in the industry?
For girls starting their careers, here is my heartfelt advice: Always dream big and never settle for less than what you deserve. You are one-of-a-kind, so do not be afraid to let your uniqueness shine. Believe in yourself wholeheartedly; you have incredible potential waiting to be unleashed. Set your sights high and do not let fear hold you back from pursuing your aspirations. Stay true to who you are because your authenticity is your greatest strength. Surround yourself with people who lift you and support your dreams. With determination, self-belief, and a supportive network by your side, there is no limit to what you can achieve. So, go out there and show the world what you are made of!

If you are a girl dreaming of a career in agriculture, here is my advice in a nutshell: Follow your heart, stay curious, and never undervalue the importance of determination and hard work. The agriculture field is ripe with opportunities for innovation, environmental stewardship, and significantly influencing global food systems. To make your mark, focus on continuous learning, seek mentors, gain hands-on experience, network within the industry, confidently present your ideas, and maintain resilience through the ups and downs. Your passion for agriculture could lead to breakthroughs that feed the world more sustainably and efficiently. Dive in with enthusiasm, and the agricultural world can offer a fulfilling path where you can grow, innovate, and help shape the future.

Who are some influential women in your life, and how they impacted you?
My grandmother was a big inspiration to me when I was growing up. She raised nine kids all on her own, managed farms, and helped my grandfather with his work in our village. Seeing her handle so much responsibility taught me about hard work and caring for others. She showed me that no matter how tough things get, with determination and love, you can make a difference in people’s lives. She has always been my hero, and her strength continues to inspire me every day.

My mother has been the most influential person in my life. She has taught me invaluable lessons about the importance of family and the power of kindness. Growing up in our large, extended family, she always went above and beyond to care for everyone, ensuring that each member felt loved and supported. Her selflessness and compassion have left a lasting impression on me, shaping the way I interact with others and view the world around me. My mother’s unwavering dedication to our family and her endless acts of kindness serve as a constant reminder of the impact one person can have on those around them. She truly embodies the qualities of a hero in my eyes.

When I got married in 2013, my mother-in-law welcomed me into the family with open arms. She made me feel like I belonged right from the start, never treating me as an outsider. What inspired me the most about her were her entrepreneurial spirit and leadership qualities. She showed me what it means to be a strong and independent woman, leading by example and encouraging me to pursue my own goals. Her example has motivated me to pursue my aspirations with courage and conviction. I am fortunate to have her as not only a mother-in-law but also a role model and source of encouragement in my life’s journey.

What actions is your company taking to address gender inequality and promote diversity?
At NOVUS, the presence of numerous women in leadership positions, spanning from the Executive Leadership Team to departments like Research and Development, Sales, Technical, Marketing, and Legal, underscores the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is a testament to NOVUS’ recognition that gender diversity brings a wealth of perspectives and skills crucial for innovation and success in today’s dynamic business landscape.

More importantly, the company’s emphasis on valuing intelligent, enterprising individuals who are deeply passionate about their work reflects a culture that prioritizes meritocracy and fosters an environment where everyone, regardless of gender, can thrive and contribute meaningfully. By actively promoting and empowering women in various leadership roles, NOVUS not only sets a progressive example for the industry but also cultivates a vibrant and inclusive workplace where talent and dedication are celebrated and rewarded.

Women are considered primary care givers to the family; would you please share your personal experience of managing personal and professional lives? How do you balance both?
I am an employee, I am a wife and a mother of one (5 years old), and we live far away from our big family which means I must manage the household on my own. As a woman, I want to have a good career, be financially Independent, be a good wife and a good mother at the same time. To achieve all my dreams at the same time what I need are commitment, hard work done intelligently, and focus to do all.

A key part of personal & professional balance is time management. I must manage my time with efficiency to do every task. That is why perfect preparation prior is important. With good preparation, we already prepare our success with zero/minimal defects, e.g., prepare to read a scientific journal before presenting to a customer, prepare a business plan before products come to the country, prepare all raw materials every night before cooking every morning, prepare financial savings for future children, education, etc. So good time management comes from good preparation before everything.

What piece of advice would you give to girls who are looking to pursue their careers in the industry?
I believe every woman can multitask. My advice is to build your spiritual life to give you strength to keep you moving in your commitment to your professional or personal lives and to manage your time well.

Who are some influential women in your life, and how they impacted you?
My mother was my role model. She worked hard after my father passed away to raise her three children until she passed away too when I was still 18th years old, but I saw my woman role model how to face hard life and survive. At this moment all my achievements are because of my mother’s hard work.

What actions is your company taking to address gender inequality and promote diversity?
As a member of the sales team, NOVUS offers me the same chances as any man to have a good career here. Leadership never underestimates or treats me differently because I am a mom/woman/wife. I can do what I believe my position requires (travel, meetings, etc.) without any questions or doubts from company leaders. NOVUS respects every decision that I take professionally and supports me to live my personal life as I want to live it.