As an immigrant myself, I learned how to be confident, to be myself and free myself from any judgements. My approach towards life has changed and I see life differently now.”
Lavanya Poreddy, Femigrant from Hyderabad, India. She works as a Program Manager with Logistics and Operations at Oculus/Facebook.
An interesting fact about Lavanya: She and her 9 years old son donated their hair to American Cancer Society.
Lavanya moved to the US soon after her marriage. Her husband worked in Bay Area and she saw herself settling down in the valley. Getting accustomed to US culture came easy to her as she traveled a lot as a kid, thanks to her dad being in the military. Her previous experience helped her adapt to changes, meet new people and learn from other cultures while still embracing her own while abroad.
“I was excited about getting married and coming here, but also excited about the career opportunities that I will have here and how much I can grow as an individual”
Becoming a professional woman leader in her field wasn’t an easy step for Lavanya. “The first year was very depressing for me, I didn’t get a work visa when I moved here. I am a very ambitious woman so when my husband told me I had to wait for a year before I can work, I was disappointed. I was in the land of opportunity for crying out loud.” Lavanya even started thinking of going back to India where she had a great career. This made her feel like she threw it all away to come here.
After more than a year’s wait, she finally got her H1 visa. She started as a Business System Analyst at Genentech. In this one year of hiatus, she met several Femigrants who couldn’t work or contribute to the workforce because of their visa issues. At that point Lavanya realized that her wait and struggle is not as bad as it seemed to her. “I got my work permit and started working. For the first time, I was being bold and open which was so different from India where the boss was always the boss and he was always right. I was able to surface issues, concerns and risks without being afraid.” The professional attitude was quite different from what she was used to since in India, subordinate employees couldn’t question the authority of their bosses or challenge them in anyway, even privately. “It was so different here, I could just talk about my ideas and chime in what I thought was right or wrong. “
Lavanya then became a mother and took her 8 weeks maternity leave. Unfortunately, her son fell ill right after she returned to work. “I was heartbroken to see my little one sick. I quit my job overnight to take care of my son.” Lavanya spent that year taking care of her son, however, she was very hard on herself worrying about her professional future. “I wanted to be a professional and achieve some new things in my life. I had a plan and wasn’t moving forward with my plan and that brought me down”. A year later, she returned to work and hasn’t stopped working since.
Her biggest challenge being in the managerial position is learning how to resolve conflicts. “I was lucky to have mentors who taught me how to resolve conflicts. I learned from my mentors some strategies to improve my working relationship with my team-mates, how to empower them and give them constructive feedback”.
Lavanya was raised to always listen to and follow her parents’ decisions which is the norm in Indian culture. Coming from a conservative family she had a culture shock when she saw women in the locker rooms walking around so comfortably with no clothes on. It was very constructive to her as she didn’t wear trousers back home or speak to boys. Seeing women so comfortable in their own skin like that was quiet humbling to her.
She learned how to become self-sufficient, and self-reliant. She realized the impact she can have by living in a first world country and how much she can offer to the rest of the world. More so, being in this melting pot of cultures taught her valuable life lessons. “It is quite humbling to learn about other people’s experiences, cultures and lives. I started being active in supporting causes and charities and my son started picking up on it and doing the same”. Lavanya noted that growing up financially instable, her understanding of financial success and freedom was measured by material gains. “Now I am happy, satisfied and content with what I have. I learned to be confident, to be myself and free myself from any judgements. I have always been a confident girl and my confidence now has grown 10x. My approach towards life has changed and I see life differently now.”
Transcribed and Edited by Dana Haj Hamad