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Published on: Oct. 21, 2020, 9:38 a.m.
Konnichiwa, she says
  • Kolekar says she is passionate about Japan and Japanese culture

By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

She is so much in love with the language, culture and people that Sujata Kolekar postponed her marriage date so that she could appear for her examination in Japanese. “I never studied for professional opportunities,” says Kolekar, who is now a senior director at Capgemini in Pune.

“After my 10th standard, while I was doing my Diploma in Engineering at the Government Polytechnic in Pune, I had a lot of free time,” she recalls. “I went to a language institute and discovered that Japanese is pictorial. I thought my liking for drawing would help me to learn the language.” Her parents were, however, a ‘little’ concerned about her studies – but they supported her. “They have always encouraged me to explore new thing things,” she explains.

Even a couple of years earlier, her father allowed her to study in the ‘only boys’ division from her eighth standard so that she could go in for the technical education she wanted. “He was one of the great futuristic fathers,” Kolekar says. “I am always thankful to my father for having given me freedom to make my own critical decisions.”

Having gone on to finish her BE in computers from Pune University, she went to Tokyo for a JMEC (Japanese Market Expansion Competition) business training; programme, then earned an MBA from the University of Melbourne. Back in Pune, she also studied cyber law at Asian Law School.

Kolekar worked as a delivery partner in Cognizant Technologies Solutions, where she handled Japan delivery for insurance accounts and also as a delivery manager in Syntel. She spent seven years in Japan as program manager for AXA Insurance as well as Workscope Japan. 

Between her course in Pune and her stay in Japan, she completed her level 2 in the language, which is just one step below the native level. Her fluency, accent and phraseology have earned her ‘zillions of appreciations from native Japanese speakers’. “Apart from having spent so many years in that country, I have many Japanese friends who have helped me a lot,” she says. “But I keep studying it as I never feel that I am fluent in it. Even at present I am learning it for five or six hours every weekend.”

Over the past 20-plus years, Kolekar says, she has seen many changes. “I have seen different worlds in my workplace. I have been inside core Japanese culture, served Japanese and European, as well as American clients. Change is the only constant in my professional life.”

Having been in Pune for more than eight years because she likes the city, she explains that her job however requires a lot of travel. That is something she likes too and she has visited about 30 countries. “Though I am based in Pune, I might be anywhere tomorrow as my teams and clients are across geographies and I need to meet them frequently,” she points out.

Crucial factor

Kolekar says she has her family’s support in her work, which she describes as a crucial factor for anyone to grow. “I am fortunate in this. In the beginning, it was my father; then my husband, who too has never opposed me in anything I wanted to do differently. He also knows most of my friends and colleagues, and doesn’t mind if I answer every call after working hours,” she says. “Now my daughter keeps encouraging me to grow in my professional work as well as social responsibilities. My mother and mother-in-law too have always stood by me.” 

All this has contributed to making her what she herself describes as a successful delivery and programme manager, with a proven track record in delivering business-critical projects; a self-motivated thinker, who is able to get on with the challenges at hand, with pride in what she does and enjoys working in a diverse team.

She also has ‘a strong commitment to quality and the will to constantly drive improvement’. Identifying her major learning in life as the need to keep her eyes open and learn from mistakes, she makes it a point to always ‘listen actively’, which enables her to build strong relationships with peers and business counterparts.

Asserting that if she loves something she will continue to do it ‘till I die’, Kolekar says she is passionate about Japan and Japanese culture. Working as an advisory committee member for in the IT department of Amrutvahini College of Engineering, she also urges youngsters to pursue Japanese careers and has a goal of motivating 10,000 students to learn Japanese.

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