International Women's Day: Aarthi MuthukrishnanBy Aarthi Muthukrishnan | March 7, 2019
To celebrate International Women’s Day at Verisk—and to showcase Verisk as a leading data analytics company with diverse leadership—Verisk is highlighting its women leaders through a series of Q&A blog posts focusing on this year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter.
We spoke with Aarthi Muthukrishnan, division president, spend-informed analytics and data science COE at Verisk Financial's Argus business. As one of the original innovators in lending, credit, fraud, and spend analytics, Verisk Financial integrates one of the industry’s largest sets of data to help banks, financial regulators, retailers, and media companies grow their businesses.
How will you help forge a more gender-balanced world?
I’ll help forge a more gender-balanced world in the workplace by doing my best to view the workplace without a gender filter. This means making colleagues aware of biases when I observe them and affording both female and male employees the flexibility to care for their families and make time for important family commitments—be it a sick child, a newborn baby, or an important event at school. I also make sure that I model those same behaviors!
Outside the workplace, as a mother of two young daughters, I encourage my girls to think more broadly on the scope of their impact in this world by exposing them to strong women role models from the past and present across the globe. I’ve also tried hard not to introduce them to gender stereotypes early in life by giving them access to a wide variety of toys, books, and movies (not just pink-colored toys or princesses!) and also a more equal partnership of division of labor at home with my husband (I cook and he cleans!).
What do you believe are the major areas of opportunity for gender parity in the workplace?
We need more women role models across senior levels of the organization. And culturally, we need to become more accustomed to a diverse set of leadership styles. Women tend to be more collaborative and less transactional in their leadership styles. Sometimes this can be viewed as weak versus a stereotypical dominant style of "don’t question—just do as you’re told." Both leadership styles work in the right situations and context, but we’re programmed to think that strong leaders are those who give directions rather than ask for input.
How will you forge positive visibility for women?
By being cognizant of the opportunities given to me and making sure I do my part to encourage women in my sphere. I think women tend to be quieter than men early on in their career. (I can attest to that from personal experience!) And I do my best to encourage younger women by giving them the right opportunities and time—to build their confidence and come out of their shells. I’m also proud of the work that we’ve done at Argus in partnering with Her Honor to mentor high school girls in Westchester.
Who has inspired you as a leader? How have they promoted gender parity?
That would be my mother. She more or less raised my sister and me single-handedly in India (my father had overseas assignments for large chunks of time). She worked as a school librarian, maintained the family home and finances, drove the family car—all while making sure we had three home-cooked meals a day. And without any extended family support either! This was definitely unusual in India 20 to 30 years ago (and probably rare even today!). And she always emphasized education, a career, and being self-sufficient.
If you could give one piece of advice to the next generation of women leaders, what would it be?
Be confident, be persistent, and don’t let things go. If something feels offensive, it very likely is. Best to call it out and let the person know!
What is your greatest accomplishment, and why?
My greatest accomplishment is still a work in progress. I’m proud of my daughters and their strong personalities—and I look forward to seeing their accomplishments in the future.
What are you doing daily to ensure your continued growth and development as a leader?
I do my best to be rational and objective in the way I approach life. It’s hard to argue with logic rather than opinions and feelings. And this usually has served me well in stressful situations.