Witad Awards 2023: Wellness/work-life balance award (end-user)—Vijaya Shanthi Saripalli, Standard Chartered Bank

Vijaya Shanthi Saripalli, associate vice president of strategy and operations at Standard Chartered Bank in Cyberjaya on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, wins the wellness/work-life balance (end-user) category in this year’s Women in Technology and Data Awards. According to Shanthi, her role comprises mostly business management activities, including headcount management, estate hygiene, communications and engagement. She is also responsible for producing newsletters, regular communications on technical and people news, town halls, fireside chats on technical topics, and women-wellness sessions. In addition to her day-to-day activities, Shanti has also assumed responsibility for her group’s gender equality and diversity and inclusion (D&I) activities and has started working on more wellness and work-life balance engagements.

The initiative she is most proud of is “Let’s Talk,” conceived as a “space” where women within the business could come together and discuss anything and everything. “The goal was simply to talk, and so we did,” Shanthi says. “Let’s Talk quickly became a haven for women to come together, share stories and collaborate with each other. Over 15 months, more than 100 women in technology and data got together regularly to discuss anything and everything from travel experiences and family bonds during the pandemic to fitness mantras, breaking the bias [against women in the industry] and hobbies.”

When asked about the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and the extent to which they had acted as a catalyst for change within the business, Shanthi focuses on the positives that came on the back of what was an acutely harrowing period for the large numbers of people around the globe. “Covid-19 forced the world into a situation to adapt, and we’ve seen a massive adoption of digital collaboration capabilities in both our personal and work lives,” she says. “The bank continues to invest in advanced digital capabilities and partner with leading-edge industry players to enhance our mobility, teamwork and innovation. It also gave us more choice around how, when and where we work. As of the end of 2022, 78% of our colleagues across 43 markets were on flexi working arrangement. This enables our teams to work closer to clients, colleagues and their teams, as well as reduce commute time, travel costs and our individual and collective carbon footprint.”

Shanthi started her career relatively late due to family commitments, although her rise through the ranks at Standard Chartered has been rapid. “Having started my career six years later than my peers, I had to start from scratch as a technical writer,” she says. “I quickly realized that talent and perseverance are the only two things that no one can take away from me. I was also fortunate to have the right opportunities and people who came along and hired me for my talent and not for the number of years of experience I had.”

Shanthi left Standard Chartered after an initial stint as a vendor employee at the bank but was then rehired by the then-head of communications who remembered her for her participation at a women’s network a year earlier. “My next big break as a communications lead came because a global head saw me conducting a roadshow,” she says. “Almost all my subsequent roles were offered to me because of the right place, right people, and the right time, and also because I persevered.”

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IMD & IRD Awards 2024: All the winners

Here are the 28 category winners of this year's Inside Market Data & Inside Reference Data Awards, announced on the evening of May 16 at a reception following this year's North American Financial Information Summit in New York.

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