Madhu Sameer (MBA Exec ’98) left behind a career in IT to pursue her passion for social justice. She now works as an Associate Clinical Social Worker and serves on the Governing Board of organisation, GOOD India.
I made my career choice because... Since early childhood, I was always fascinated by psychology but I come from a family of engineers and doctors, so I towed the family line. I chose the technology industry because it was just starting to blossom and take shape. I found success at a fairly early age, however, my ethical and moral values clashed with the requirements of my jobs, especially when I moved into management.
By 1997, I was fed up with corporate greed, materialism, manipulation, and lack of human connection and humanity in the IT industry.
I was working as a Manager for Strategy and Planning in Energy Australia. When I became pregnant with my older son, I was openly asked to quit. I felt outraged at such blatant violation of law, and refused to quit. I was harassed and unceremoniously fired. Energy Australia later settled out of Court for a significant amount of money, but that was never the point for me. I fought for social justice. If a public sector company could flaunt the law, what hope did we have for women? The incident was an eye opener for me. It made me rethink all my relationships, and my priorities. It also made me feel proud of my own ethical and moral values. Although it was traumatic at the time, overall, it was an experience I grew from.
My most impressive achievement is… I learnt to align my life with what we really desire. And so, when someone asks me my most significant achievement, I can no longer say that I made huge amounts of money for my company, or for my family. What seems to be my crowning achievement is my two children, our love for each other, and their success.
My biggest challenge at the moment is… reconciling the good part of me, with the selfish part of myself and to live an authentic life that is aligned to desired and desirable values. We all protest against inhuman conditions and 50c wages in sweat shops in Mexico, but love a bargain of $3 Gap T-Shirt from Ross. The list of inauthentic behaviors goes on and on…. It feels as if we – including myself – pay lip service to causes because participation in causes makes us look like pseudo-intellectuals and good, but our actions are in conflict with what we say.
At the moment I’m inspired by… and intrigued by the confluence of psychology and religion, mythology, quantum physics, quantum chemistry and biology. I attended a master’s level program on quantum physics at Fresno State University last year. I drove 6 hours every week to attend a class on String Theory at Stanford under Professor Leonard Susskind a couple of years ago.
The greatest goal that I’m yet to achieve is… In my personal life, I long to see grandkids.
In my professional life, I would like to open a residential treatment facility for psychosis. I work with psychosis and severely disabled clients. There are very few clinics and clinicians in the world who believe that psychosis can be treated.
I love being a student. Learning is a lifelong endeavor. If I could get paid for going to school, I would stay there forever. Everything I am today began at the AGSM @ UNSW Business School's non- traditional Executive MBA program. It was my first step towards self realisation. It forced me to explore areas of my psyche, and my life that I did not even know existed.