This month’s ‘That Mama’ is digital marketing whiz and best-selling author Swati Joshi
Our That Mama interviews feature lots of women who’ve started their own businesses, and along with that comes heaps of great advice about finding work-life balance and striking out on one’s own. This month’s That Mama, Swati Joshi, decided to leave corporate life and set up her own digital marketing firm 8 months after going back to work (her adorable daughter, Sachi, is now 16 months old). Somewhere along the way, she ended up penning a best-selling book about marketing! Swati shares lots of candid useful tips about how to deal with mommy guilt, finding the right time to set up your own business, and the importance of keeping oneself happy to help keep baby happy. Read on for yet another enlightening interview, mamas!
Ages/Genders of Child(ren): 16 month old girl
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your career and your family?
I was born in India, and after school studied engineering at one of India’s most prestigious universities (IIT). After graduating, I joined Shell and spent the next six years of my life in four different countries (The Netherlands, USA, India and Singapore). It is here that I met my husband, and we’ve been settled here ever since. I quit my corporate job when my baby was 8 months old to start my own company and pursue my dream of becoming an author. Currently, I am the CEO of Influenshine, a digital marketing firm. I am also the author of the best-selling book Untangling the Web: Developing a Blueprint for Digital Marketing.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?
For most women, life changes after a baby. It was no different for me as I became an entrepreneur at the same time that I became a mother.
Pre-baby, I was working in large multinational companies. But sometime during my pregnancy I wondered about the legacy I was going to leave for my child. I decided that I would make a bigger impact on the world in my own small way.
I started my company with the desire to have more control over my personal and professional life, and also to be able to choose work that I find meaningful and impactful.
How did you get back into the swing of things after having kids?
It wasn’t very difficult as I hardly took any break after having my child. Also, I liked my work so much that it didn’t feel like work at all. It also helped that I had good support at home. Having family that took care of me, and a nanny to help with the baby was a lifesaver.
How do you maintain an identity separate from your child?
I guess having my own set of dreams and aspirations as a professional and as a wife has helped me maintain balance in my life. Throughout pregnancy and motherhood, I didn’t let go of my personal and professional aspirations. Even though I don’t get too much time for myself, I do things that I enjoy.
How has having a child changed the way you define work?
I have become more conscious of how I spend my time, and try to prioritize tasks both at home and at work. I try to make sure that whatever work I am doing is meaningful and important, otherwise I would rather spend time with my child. It has also meant that I have had to say ‘No’ to many things, including social outings with friends.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
My most important lesson as a business owner is not to try and do everything myself. I delegate whatever can be delegated, and trust that other people can do a good job too. This has saved me a huge amount of time while also keeping me focussed on the more important things.
I keep myself organszed through my online calendar – which doubles up as a to-do list. I plan time on my calendar to plan my day and week, and everything I need to do goes on my calendar in the correct time spot.
I wish I had more time for…
I love reading – I always have but now I don’t have enough time to read as much as I would like. I also tend to go overboard buying books and now there’s a backlog of books that I own but haven’t read! I always find that I can learn about things in much more detail if I read books about them, and would definitely like to have more time for reading.
I always feel saner after…
Exercise and meditation. I feel I don’t do enough of either, but every time I do I feel amazing, have lots of energy and focus, and feel more in control of everything.
What part of Singapore do you live in? What do you like about it?
I live in Robertson Quay. It’s a sanctuary in the middle of the city. Despite being so close to the action, it is also a bit quiet and relaxing, especially along the Singapore River.
Favourite kid-friendly activity in Singapore?
Currently the Singapore Zoo is a hot favourite. We also like driving to the MacRitchie Reservoir to see monkeys and take in some fresh air!
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Singapore?
Open Farm Community. Also Marche in Suntec and Vivo.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
We love Bali for many many reasons. Phuket is another one where we’ve enjoyed staying as a family.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
My husband and I regularly go on date night and movie nights which has helped us keep our bond strong. We also regularly go for long walks along the Singapore River, talking about our plans and what’s going on in our lives.
Favourite date night restaurants?
We always enjoy Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Orchard. Shabestan, a Persian restaurant in Robertson Quay is another favourite.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Singapore?
The one piece of advice I would have for other ‘mamapreneurs’ is to get started sooner rather than later. If you feel motivated about getting back in the groove, don’t wait for things to be perfect – they will never be. We often wait for things to be perfect and for us to be fully prepared before we go chasing our dreams. My advice is to take the plunge and figure things out as you go.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
The best advice I received was to trust my instincts. You can read up all the books you want, and follow all the publications about motherhood and parenting, but in the end you are always right about what kind of parent you want to be become. So it’s good to educate yourself, but also trust your instincts in terms of what is good for your child.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
I guess my one piece of advice is to do something for yourself regularly, take a break from baby and just spend some time on yourself, even if it is one hour in a week. Babies need and can take all the time that we have, but they also need us to be sane and happy to take care of them properly.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Making funny faces and making my baby laugh. Turns out it’s not my strong suit!
What’s your favourite family ritual?
We love going to the Botanic Gardens and feeding the fish and turtles there! My little one is quite fascinated with the fishes and loves staring at them.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
All the things I need to do the next day. My list of things to do is always full.
My favourite moment of the day is…
When I come back from home and my baby comes running to me! It’s the best feeling in the world when I see the happiness on her face the moment I walk in the door.
Thank you so much, Swati! And thank you to the always-fabulous Gunilla of Sugarlight Photography for the beautiful photos of Swati and her daughter.