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Case Study: Out Of Step

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DQI Bureau
New Update

Ramesh Saigal and Snigdha Bose Saigal (Bose is Snigdha's maiden name that

she refused to part with when she married Ramesh) make a happily married DINK

(Double Income No Kids) couple. Though married for eight years now, the

relationship goes back nearly 15 years when they met while studying engineering

at one of India's premier engineering institutes. Both followed up their

engineering course with a management one at one of the top B-Schools in India.

It was not just friendship but common ambitions and professional goals that

helped foster a special relationship between Ramesh and Snigdha.

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Post MBA, both landed plush offers at the campus from multinational IT

companies. While their professional life started moving in the right direction,

both Ramesh and Snigdha decided to take marital vows as well after two years of

courtship. Things were just perfect for the first five years. Both had

high-flying careers and a perfect understanding. Everything was fine till Ramesh

was hit by this entrepreneurial bug and decided to quit his steady job and

launch his own product company.

But, as they say, it is not enough to just have an idea but have an idea that

is commercially viable. Ramesh's idea was a commercial disaster and before he

knew it, he was out of business.

Ramesh did manage to emerge from the entrepreneurial disaster and land

himself a good job at a middle management level in the IT industry. Snigdha on

the other hand had moved up in her job and was the chief marketing officer at

one of India's best-known software services companies. She had the name, fame

and success she had desired and painstakingly worked towards. However, the

seemingly perfect relationship seemed to have gone wrong somewhere.

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For the first time, Snigdha started coming home to a new person-she could

no longer identify Ramesh in his present frame of mind and behavior with the man

she had spent 15 years with. Ramesh had suddenly turned into a cynical and

complaining husband-he had problems with her attitude, her job, her focused

career goals, her work hours, her hectic travel schedule, et al.

In short, everything that seemed fine for the last eight years had suddenly

become reason for disagreement, debate and marital disharmony. Finally, a day

came when Ramesh suggested that Snigdha should quit her job and work towards a

more balanced family life. He claimed that he had the financial strength to run

the family and take her responsibility. Snigdha was faced with the biggest

dilemma of her life-a problem far more complex than what she had encountered

in her entire professional career. She did not want to leave her career, but

neither did she want to leave her husband.

How should the relationship behandled from this point on, without major

compromises on the career front?

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Ganesh Natarajan and Uma Ganesh, one of the few very well-known and

successful couples in the IT industry, offer their solutions.

Ganesh and Uma started their careers together as management trainees in

Crompton Greaves, straight from business school, and went on to build successful

global careers. They live in Pune and have, daughter, Karuna who is completing

an MB-PhD program at Cambridge University, UK

Ganesh

Natarajan, Deputy Chairman & CEO of Zensar Technologies
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This case is very representative of the conflict that has always simmered

beneath the surface between the dominant male ego and the emerging need for

rewarding careers in educated and ambitious women. In this country with its

strong history of joint families and finely balanced division of work and home,

responsibility between the sexes, the need to adjust to the new equality between

working couples is causing more stress than many would openly accept or even

acknowledge.

The ego conflict is often compounded by the stereotypes that young couples

themselves have in their minds when they start a marital relationship. In spite

of being equally educated, it is quite possible that in the early stages of

their marriage, Snigdha would have automatically assumed the woman's homemaker

role, taking the lion's share of work in creating the home and running it and

managing the kitchen, while Ramesh would have been content to make sympathetic

noises at her double work load and enjoy the cups of tea she would have

willingly made for him. As the initial aura of wedlock faded and obsession as

well as success at work made Snigdha more confident, his own battered ego would

have become extra sensitive to real and perceived slights and the feeling that

her work was becoming progressively more important than her “lord and

master” husband.

What does one do when this stage is reached? The first step is to address the

issue fairly and squarely and even seek counseling from wiser professionals who

have seen this situation before. While the case facts clearly suggest that it

would be futile for Snigdha to give up her job in comparison to Ramesh's less

prestigious work, Ramesh should make the effort to accept the new realities and

come to terms with the fact that he now needs to be less demanding and more

supportive. If there are any specific factors that irk him, like excessive

travel on her part, he could request her to be more considerate and try to adapt

her schedule to his own travel in future.

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Both partners are clearly compatible. All it needs is a little humility and

willingness to adjust on the part of Ramesh to restore the balance and joy of

their marriage.

Uma

Ganesh, CEO, Kalzoom Technologies

It is important for both Snigdha and Ramesh to realize that 'success'

should not be seen from the point of view of the society or the media which is

always comparative and need not necessarily reflect the inner satisfaction and

happiness. While the career is important for Snigdha, and she does not have to

give it up in return for Ramesh's happiness, the real success and happiness

will be possible only if she is able to take her beloved husband along the

journey of life and discover the happiness together.  And this will call for some compromises on the work front,

close attention to Ramesh's thought process, being transparent about issues

bothering each other and playing a positive and supportive role to help Ramesh

to lift up his spirits and become more confident about himself.       

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Snigdha needs to figure out how to deal with the emotional turmoil of Ramesh.

She has to first of all recognize that if she really continues to love Ramesh,

these are not 'his' problems but her problems as well and a part of the

solution lies in reflecting upon her own behavior toward him in the last few

years. While Snigdha may be receiving accolades for her performance at work, is

she making conscious attempts to recognize and encourage any talent that Ramesh

may have?

The very fact that Ramesh had the courage to give up a comfortable corporate

job and tried becoming an entrepreneur shows that he is an 'ideas man'

although he may not have been successful in the business. Can he now share his

experience with others through relevant forums or act as a mentor for start up

entrepreneurs or write articles on the subjects that he has expertise in? 

If the disparity in their earnings is coming in the way of their

relationship, Snigdha could offer that both of them share the monthly expenses

and whoever has extra earnings could put it away in a joint savings account or

better still, Snigdha could offer to create a healthy kitty soon enough so at an

opportune stage, perhaps Snigdha with her marketing skills could support Ramesh

in his venture to become successful in his second attempt. Snigdha should also

try and see if she can minimize late comings although she may not be able to

avoid travel in a responsible, senior position. If this is not possible, she

needs to have an open chat with Ramesh and suggest that he joins the gym or

takes up some hobby in the evening after office hours so he does not get bored

or feel tired of waiting for Snigdha to return home.

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