Purposeful Woman: Yvonne Perumal

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I'm very privileged to work with amazing women in my corporate career. Yvonne is the Divisional Director: Group Legal Services at the Liberty Group. She's an admitted attorney with over fourteen years progressive professional experience in the financial services industry. She is as beautiful as she is educated: she holds a Masters in Law, a Certificate in Finance and Accounting, and a Post Gradate Diploma in Financial Planning. Yvonne is a mom to two beautiful girls and a devoted wife; loves spending time with her family. She enjoys Bollywood dancing with her daughters, and reading romance novels to nurture her soul.

My father was my role model growing up. He instilled ambition in me and the feeling of making something of one's self. He started working in a company as dispatcher in the sales department [when he was 26 years old] and within 10 years had become the General Manager of that company. He later opened his own textile business and became even more successful. He came from nothing and turned that nothing into something out of his own accord. Not only did he put me and my siblings through university, but he took care of his own siblings too. He did not allow his race to define him. He was a very humble man. In addition to ambition, he taught me to not be limited in my thinking regarding what I could achieve.

I had a very cultural and gendered Indian upbringing, where the role of a male and a female were clearly defined. I married a traditional, conservative Indian man. Balancing the two worlds (of career woman and traditional Indian wife and mother) isn't easy, and I do find myself getting more resistant to being boxed around gender specific roles. However, I've started bringing in the balance by speaking up more and being true to myself. It's important for me to be a good role-model to my daughters, and to show them that women can play a dual role successfully.

I would tell my younger self not to lose herself as she grows older. I wish I was braver when I was growing up. I'd tell her to travel the world and live and experience another country, before settling down.

There are multiple barriers for women to senior leadership roles, I believe: Upbringing can define you as a person. So, parents and school teachers have a responsibility in raising and growing confident young women. Secondly, women don't support one another. We need to change this dynamic in the workplace - we are stronger in numbers. Women also need to put themselves out there more and start taking more risks. We don't do that enough because of the negative gender messages we receive from a young age. And lastly, it's important that your partner in life encourages you to be the best you can be, and supports you fully in achieving the goals you set for yourself.

The quote I live by is "keep your feet firmly on the ground, but reach for the stars". My dad always said this to me. It means to be grounded, aware, confident and stable but at the same time to push your limits and dream big.
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