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Finding work-life balance and being guilt-free | Insights from an IIT professor and mother

Finding work-life balance and being guilt-free | Insights from an IIT professor and mother

Here are an IIT professor and mother’s insights into maintaining work-life balance without guilt this Mother’s Day 2023.

By Shruti Bansal: Being a mother is an arduous profession in itself that entails more than just the responsibility of a single woman; it often involves juggling multiple roles. Working mothers often dedicate themselves to their jobs for extended periods, ranging from 12 to 18 hours a day. Firstly, they handle their office duties and then they tend to the various needs of their families upon returning from their demanding schedules.

Despite these challenges, working mothers try to excel in their professional endeavours and strive to find happiness along the way.

To delve deeper into the work-life balance of working mothers and discuss the scope of choosing water and sanitation as a career, India Today had the opportunity to interview Dr Indumathi M Nambi, a professor in the Environment and Water Resources Division of the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Madras.

With almost 20 years of teaching experience at IIT Madras, Dr Nambi is also a mother to a daughter who is currently pursuing civil engineering.


“There should be a work-life balance between both things. As a mother, you shouldn’t be guilty; take out the guilt factor. Give your career some time, and take a break but don’t give up on your passion,” she says.

“Once, you start realising this, your family and kids will also start appreciating this. Women who are pursuing a career have accomplished a lot, and shouldn’t be guilty,” says the IIT Madras professor.


“Despite ongoing research and technological advancements, there remains a significant gap in solving real-world problems. As part of my research, I focused on translating academic work into practical solutions to address environmental issues and improve the overall environment,” Dr Nambi explains.

Dr. Nambi’s expertise lies in helping students apply their research to real-world problems, making a tangible impact beyond the university setting.


Comparing her experience as an educator to working in the industry, Dr. Nambi said that being an educator offers a greater opportunity to create societal impact compared to the narrow focus of the industry.

Through teaching, she has had the chance to inspire and interact with thousands of students, directly encouraging their growth and development.

Additionally, she is currently focusing on promoting environmental entrepreneurship among students, recognising the lack of companies and indigenous products in this field.

Dr. Nambi believes that research, teaching, capacity building, and environmental entrepreneurship are essential ways to positively influence the younger generation.

“During the years of my teaching experience, I have had the opportunity to inspire thousands of students. In a year, I directly interact with and encourage at least 150 students,” says the professor.


Addressing the challenges she faces, Dr. Nambi mentioned the struggle to maintain a work-life balance while juggling teaching, research, and additional responsibilities.

She emphasised the importance of finding time for the family within the limited 24 hours of a day. She acknowledged the immense support she receives from IIT Madras, stating that if an institution enables individuals to pursue their passions, it is a golden opportunity for personal and professional growth.


“Water and sanitation is not a fashionable field. But it has a tremendous amount of opportunity to work in,” she says. ” Also, a major advantage is that very few people take them as an opportunity. I believe students can give a thought to this field and take a step towards protecting our environment,” the professor adds.

“Environment is one thing that everybody looks up to. People working in this field should feel pride. And try to translate your research to people living at the grass root level,” says Dr. Indumathi M Nambi.

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