Grit & Grace: Anjali Chitre

"I am the daughter of immigrants from India who came to this country in 1972 in search of opportunity. My parents worked hard to create a life here, and to provide their children with a strong education and opportunity for success. I grew up watching my mother juggle a demanding career as a physician, two children, and a culturally traditional marriage. My mother is one of nine siblings. Her older sisters were married at ages 14 and 16, respectively, and each had between five and six children. When my mother reached a suitable age for marriage in India, she refused and insisted that she be allowed to pursue higher education. Her parents refused to support her but her grandfather allowed her to move in with him to attend college and medical school. I am
most proud of her ambition and desire for independence. Having had this role model in my life, being a working mother has always been my personal expectation of myself.

Coming from a family of doctors, law school was not on my radar screen at all. My family was not initially supportive of pursuing a law degree as they were unfamiliar with what was required and the job prospects. I basically had to forge my own way with it, initially without their support, and prove to them that I could be successful in a field that they and not many of their friends knew much about. After working at a large law firm in Boston, where I had my first child, I moved to the in-house legal department at John Hancock. I work primarily in the Commercial Real Estate space which is dominated by white men. There are still many moments of self-doubt, but I remind myself of the importance of women being present, heard, and respected, and that keeps me forging ahead. I want my two daughters to know that they can be anything they want to be, and no one can tell them otherwise."

Anjali Chitre is Managing Director & Senior Counsel, North American Investment Law at John Hancock