Meenalochani Kumar, Sr.Director & Global Design Lead – Leadership and Executive Development – Sutherland
“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them, I have believed in this mantra since early in my career”, says Meena. Fulfilling and complete are two words which describe her career. She has held leadership positions in areas of organization development, mentoring, leadership development, learning, talent management and business HR. She has enjoyed leading transformations at individual and organizational levels. She believes that HR as a function has a role in touching; impacting and enabling teams develop in an environment of trust. Humaneness and humility are two behaviours she has always strived to incorporate in her career and life.
Her core interest is in leadership development architecture and effectively using the power of mentoring and coaching in developing leaders. Being a coach and mentor to many women, she also enjoys being a continuous learner, writer, learning from unusual sources and from everyone.
Below are some more insights from her journey, shared with team ABT.
Who has been your biggest inspiration and Why?
Personally, my father has been my biggest inspiration. He was an eternal optimist, resilient and more than anything, He knew how to be happy through the crests and troughs of life. Professionally, my biggest inspiration has been Mr. Anant Talaulicar, an Indian Industry leader. A man of few words, and high ideals, I experienced an authentic leader in him. He stood for the values of the organization and truly was, is and will be my role model. A few other mentors who have shaped my career have been Ravishankar and Sujitha.
What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Keeping teams motivated, engaged and committed on an ongoing basis is challenging in the world we live in today. In a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous and digitized world, crunched loyalty, progressive demands, and shorter attention spans across the workforce, it’s a juggle for any HR professional. Rather than calling it a challenge, I would say it is yet another learning lesson in my career journey.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I practice collaborative leadership and believe in involving teams, stake holders in the journey. In terms of leadership personality, am a combination of reflective, authentic, and resilient leadership
Tell us about your most cherished milestone.
There are three milestones I would like to share: First was when I fought cancer and went back to work, it was my first milestone. The second one was when I was nominated to be on the Board of the International Mentoring Association, I was the only Indian woman there. It was a moment of pride and it was my second milestone.
And the third was when I won the Femina Woman Leader award in the World Women Congress in 2017, it was my third milestone. I have won several awards, this one seems precious though.
Share your reflections on your professional career.
I have had the opportunity of working in small, medium and large organizations. Have worn multiple hats and have accepted different roles that came my way. It has been wonderful working with thought leaders in my career journey. They taught me to think, and were so rational that the quality of being logical and not doing something for fad got ingrained in me over time.
My career has been about connecting the dots, learning, unlearning and learning how to learn all along. Our experiences define who we are ultimately. Mine has been a mixed bag of experiences, good, not so good and bad at times. The reality is the learning that has emerged each time. When I reflect, certain experiences have taught me to be compassionate, others have made me resilient, a few more have intrigued and made me curious about human behaviours.
Throughout my career, I have seen teams, leadership and organisations change. What should remain constant in my view is our ability to accept and adapt quickly. Many experiences have taught me the importance of being able to think on my feet, be conscious and self-aware in difficult situations but the icing on my cake has been how my career has taught me the art of navigating in organizations and being savvy, both of these came in the latter part of my career, but are strategic skills for a Leader apart from the several other skills required.
What would you like to achieve in the coming years?
I would like to author a book on the nuances of mentoring, a topic so close to my heart. I would like to give back to the society some things I have been blessed with. I would like to spend more time with women needing career support or guidance. If I am able to help even 100 women in this process, for a start, that would be a significant step for me. I would to like to work towards creating a workforce of women who are professionally successful, at the same time, personally are happy and peaceful in life.