Nurturing Intellect through Mental Sports

 

Gwendolen Noronha  MD, Child’s Intellectual Academy Pvt. Ltd. (CIA) & National Board Chief for World Mental Sports Olympics Fed (Memoraid) 

Gwendolen Norohna is a multi-faceted and inspiring superwoman who wears several hats — from being the Chief Coach for Mental sports to practicing sports herself, having trained four world record holders in the field of mental calculations,  to running an Event Company and ironing out a social agenda in parallel, she has authored three co-curriculum books. She is also passionate about flying, holds a private pilot licence and loves swimming & jet skiing.

Gwendolen Noronha, MD of Child’s Intellectual Academy (CIA) and Event Director of WizWorld  is a globally acclaimed coach in the field of speed calculations and memory sports, six digit square root, mental eight digit square root, mental ten digit square root, mental multiplications, mental additions and flash anzan. She is also the National Board Chief for World Mental Sports Olympics Federation (Memoraid).

Quoting Napolean, she believes that “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” She established a franchise based educational business set-up which spread across India and moved out to other countries. Learning the Management principles with her father’s business, she holds additional degrees in phonology, graphology, diploma in corporate and criminal law, and currently is studying literature and anthropology from New York. Her campaign Break Free Foundation works towards educating people about chronic depression, dementia, memory loss, math anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and even on women health related to breast cancer, cervical cancer, helps fighting any false criminal allegations on young girls, helps rape victims overcome the ill doing and educate girls on hygiene.

High point in career
“I set goals. Each time I am working towards a goal, it becomes the high point especially when I achieve it but the next very moment, I have another goal set. Basically it has been an on-going process. The most essential element or high point is to see myself and most importantly people around me and who associate with me very happy with the work I do. Being contended has been the highest point and the biggest achievement.”

Most challenging assignment so far
All projects are challenging at the beginning, but I have never succumbed to the pressures. I don’t see how many hours I put in behind an idea to make it happen. I have sometimes worked for days with a couple of hours of sleep. No assignment eventually has felt very challenging because all of them are very realistic and practical. Honestly, the biggest challenge I face is to cater to my family and friends if I am pre-occupied but most of them understand it knowing how passionate I am towards everything that I take up work-wise and at my studies. Although, if I have to specify a project it would be staging the Elimination for the World Mental Sports Olympic Federation and it is not because the project is a challenge. It is the Olympic selection for mental sports but because India’s corporates lacks at understanding anything beyond cricket and coming forward to associate, it leaves me with the choice of making it huge on my own terms most of the times. While currently the work is in progress, I will know where it leads sooner.”

Greatest inspiration
“I have a long list here. I learn from many people around me and each one inspires me differently. To begin with- my parents, they have sheltered me from every storm in the best way possible, given me that wide space to spread my wings and aspire everything I wanted to. I am inspired by them and I know that when I become a parent, I will work towards being the best mother. I have learnt to trust, show empathy and believe in doing great work. The other people who do inspire me are my close friends Sharon, Geeta, Sneha, Tina and Alpa. These girls keep the true self in me alive. Often surrounded by fake, temptations and distractions, these girls let me sail easily over all this. One among them is married and even before they both could even fall in love, they faced so much disturbances but the fact that they believed in staying true to the feeling of liking one another brought them close. So their relationship has inspired me to trust in love and take care of it.”

Most important milestone in life
Being able to find love. As an entrepreneur, life is so busy that we don’t find time for anything other than work. I have been lucky to find love. Who ever thought that miles away on a foreign land while busy discussing a mental sport project love would be found and that it would teach me to be patient, believe in the positive energy of the universe, learn to care for people suffering with Alzheimer’s and majorly because he lost a family member to death because of the disease. I also learnt to forgive people who cause misunderstandings between relationships, learn to be in peace with past storms and moreover learn to never expect and stay strong.

Since the time I have found love, which indeed is one milestone especially with the candid life I have, I have seen myself more motivated towards work, more satisfied with what I have achieved, more established, more patient and I have the capacity to fall in love with absolutely anything and everything around me which makes me a very happy person.

A good friend of mine and a great motivator, Phill Ash keeps me strong, lectures me when I lose hope. Having found love in the most unexpected time and having found real good friends is a milestone too. In my opinion, no true vibe that two people feel for each other can ever fail, it is only that the fragile ego comes our way that doesn’t let us stick to this vibe and gives space to misunderstandings. Overcoming such fragile ego and learning to stay strong has been the other milestone. I have grown as a better human and I am happy about it.”

Women are the better halves. What does it mean?
“It symbolises a huge responsibility. Being able to contribute to society, economic growth, to the man of your life, to every relationship around us, would make us the better halves. While women are slowly striving to prove the saying, it is also important that men let the other half be better. What I see today is that our generation gives equal importance and the men do believe that how much they contribute in terms of work and personal objectives, so do the women. When such balanced thought will progress among everyone, then definitely this old proverb will hoist high.”

Your experiences on being a woman entrepreneur
“I have found no difference and because I don’t know how it is for men who are entrepreneurs, for obvious reasons. I was supported by my father at my initial steps. He saw no difference in putting me ahead in the business world because he simply didn’t think there was any gender differences. I have enjoyed working and getting showcased as a business person today. I have seen the entire business industry treat me well and have faced no indifference anywhere. The world has evolved and I stepped into an era where being a man or a woman professional didn’t really matter. I believe that if you have a strong support back home from parents, friends and your love, you can dilute all the negative effects on your mind and head back to work with zest.”

Did you believe in making dreams come true?
“I am a dreamer. I dream for real and work towards it. If I wouldn’t dream, I just couldn’t have got where I am today and neither I would be able to head towards the next goal. My goals are very focused, big yet obtainable and are aligned to my strengths. I know what I am capable of and will invest all of my efforts in it, avoiding my weaknesses.”

Challenges faced
“Being able to work in an environment where you probably don’t like some people or share some bad space with them. Although I like to maintain a calm vibe around me, many times it is disturbed by vibrations of the other. I have seen that sometimes personal relationship stress, be in family or others too fall on work and visa-versa. It took me a good amount of time to filter the two parameters and build a bridge in between.”

Setbacks and Lessons learnt
“Surprisingly not much. Having had a controversial situation at the onset of my career, I thought I was getting nowhere but family and friends played a vital role. I was blessed to always find support. Therefore even when I had people frame me in situations I didn’t belong, I could easily walk out and the result is in front of you. I also learnt that getting into a problem is not something bad, but not knowing how to come out of it is the bad side. At the end of the day, we all want to achieve to see ourselves and our loved ones happy and even if any set back comes my way, I have learnt to push it aside and walk. I am willing to learn from each failure and I don’t give up after failing at something especially when I know my decisions are right. I persevere.”

 

Grandmaster at making deft moves

Kruttika Nadig — Founder, Idea Mil

Being a former Chess Grandmaster surely teaches you to make the right moves in the most appropriate situation. And thats what Kruttika Nadig has been doing over the last few years.  For somebody who launched her first entrepreneurial venture Idea Mil in 2015, Kruttika has practically led a consciously entrepeneurial life herself so far.

A journalist by profession, a budding entrepreneur, traveller, a writer and an explorer at heart Kruttika has won three national chess championships, several international medals and represented India for several years. Kruttika was the winner of India’s premier national women’s chess championship and won the title of Woman Grandmaster in 2009.

Her school and college years were devoted to playing professional chess and only after winning the title of Woman Grandmaster that Kruttika felt somewhat satisfied and began to look at other careers. Coincidentally, she had just finished her under-graduation in Economics so the time was ripe for her to transition onto another path. Her love for reading and asking questions led her to the Asian College of Journalism and she has been writing for several publications since.

For the past three years, Kruttika has been exploring India and the world and writing travelogues for Lonely Planet Magazine India. Inspite of the excitement that these assignments brought along, she still felt the need to do something more and build something useful on her own.

It was in 2015, she started educating herself about business and startups and then launched Idea Mil, a fully equipped co-working space for entrepreneurs and freelancers in her hometown, Pune (www.ideamil.in).

The aim behind this was to create a space where individuals like herself can work side by side and exchange ideas in a calm, conducive environment. She bootstrapped the venture with her personal funds, hired two people to help out, and advertised it on various social media channels. Idea Mil is now five months old and has 70% occupancy. Kruttika believes it is just the beginning!

High point in career

“There have been more than one – when I won the under-19 national chess championship at the age of 16, when I was hired by The Economic Times on the first day of campus placements, and when I announced the launch of Idea Mil after months of planning and preparation.”

Most challenging assignment so far

“A couple of years ago I was sent to Northeast India for two weeks to experience the terrain and local culture and write about it. That trip consisted of super-early mornings, nerve-wracking road journeys, long treks and frigid campsites. But what I saw there opened my eyes to an entirely new side of India and I came away with some great insights and memories.”

Greatest inspiration

“I’ve never idolised the top achievers in my field though I admire them. My family inspires me. I’m lucky to belong to a family of highly educated achievers in various fields, and I get my values from them.”

Most important milestone in life

“Having made the switch from chess to journalism. Had that not happened, I might have never broadened my horizons and become an entrepreneur.”

Women are the better halves. Have we moved beyond this?

“In my opinion, that’s quite a sexist statement. I believe men and women are equal, which means that they can be equally good or bad!”

Driving excellence at work place

Ashwani Nandini — Vice President, GlobalLogic

With over two decades of experience in the field of Product Engineering Services, Ashwani Nandini is the Vice President — Delivery at GlobalLogic, a ‘leader in experience design and digital product development space (www.globallogic.com). With expertise in people management, establishing and nurturing competencies and capabilities and ensuring delivery excellence, Nandini started at GlobalLogic with three projects and about 50 people. Today, after eight years in the organisation, she is managing the Noida engineering centre that has 1200 plus employees.

Nandini pursued her B.Sc. in Mathematics and passed out a topper after which she did her MCA from Delhi University. She is also a frequent speaker at the technology conferences hosted by thought leadership groups such as NASSCOM, Times Group, and Silicon India.

Her interests are reading about latest trends in tech and business, mentoring and grooming her teams, promoting innovation in her delivery center and watching movies.

High point in career

“My high point would be when the GlobalLogic executive leadership found me worthy enough to be the delivery head of Noida engineering center in 2012. Prior to that, the delivery organization was aligned with the business units, resulting in delivery organization operating in silos. This move was needed as the delivery organization needed to collaborate better as the organization was scaling. It was a challenge to begin with to bring the various disparate units together and it took a lot of work to unite everyone together. Nevertheless, it has been exciting and definitely a high point in my career.”

Most challenging assignment so far

“The high point in my career would also be my most challenging assignment till date, heading the GlobalLogic delivery center and there were two reasons for the same – The delivery center was aligned to the business units and the task was to bring together various disparate units, which required a lot of patience and hard work, therefore was challenging. I also worked very hard to understand the capabilities of the individual delivery units separately, understood all the partner engagements and came up with the center’s capabilities and competencies. Noida delivery center’s capabilities and competencies were harnessed, nurtured over a period of time, and it started making a huge impact and being known for those competencies and capabilities by everyone at GlobalLogic globally, that was a huge sense of achievement for me. Today, right from mobility to big data to cloud to IoT to design. We are experts and have case studies for pretty much every industry and every domain.”

Greatest inspiration

“I am hugely inspired by Chanda Kochhar, who in spite of not having a famous surname has worked hard to be where she wanted to be. Everything right from her self-belief, her perseverance and her leadership qualities inspire me a lot. She is a huge inspiration not only for what she has achieved in her professional life but also for having a fulfilling family life and showing the women of the world that we can have it all. I also love her sense of dressing in beautiful sarees as she presents a picture of Indianness.”

Most important milestone in life

“I set short term targets for myself- both in personal as well as professional life and I feel very happy when I achieve them. I set targets to say read a particular book, read about a particular trend, work on creating a particular strategy — feel happy when I achieve what I was set out to.

The bigger milestone is to grow continuously and evolve as a person and a professional with every passing quarter and year. I am happy when I look over the last three years that I managed to put the GlobalLogic Noida center in the right track and the stage is set beautifully and Noida engineering delivery center is poised for big growth in the coming years — the vision of Noida delivery center in the future makes me very happy and makes me set bigger milestones for myself.”

Women are the better halves. What does it mean?

“I truly believe that challenges in the professional life are similar for men and women although both might handle those challenges in different ways. Numerous studies have shown that women excel at collaborating, building relationships, nurturing talent which not only helps in their professional life but also helps them to manage their personal lives.

Expectation of the society towards women even in this time and date given the region we are in, is high as it is believed that women can manage both professional and personal life well at the same time. And it is correct, women can prioritize and manage their time well.  We, women very well know how to prioritize our lives based on the phase of life we are in and do this effortlessly. All of these qualities in women I believe make them the better halves.” 

Digital strategist who also dined with Obama

Raina Kumra — Co-Founder, Mavin

Not every day you get to read or meet people who have dined with President Barack Obama. Somebody who lists a pedigree of universities on their profile, like Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University and New York University. Raina Kumra co-founder of Mavin, a mobile startup focused on affordable internet access, is one such unique person.

Raina Kumra is also the CEO of Juggernaut, an agency focused on digital, design and disruption through behavioral & brand strategy. It boasts of clients like, The Knight Foundation, The Walt Disney Company, & the Federal Government. Also, Gigato, Mavin’s first product is India’s first net neutral sponsored data platform and user engagement tool that benefits both end users and developers. 

Raina Kumra previously served as Co-Director of Innovation at the BBG, the world’s largest international media organization. The new leadership team advanced the BBG’s mission to reach global audiences & protect journalists and brought in agile development, public-private partnerships and innovation under the Obama Administration.

Prior to that she was the Senior New Media Advisor in the State Department’s Office of e-Diplomacy. She also founded & advised several NGOs focused on international development. Previously, Raina led the conversion of Wieden+Kennedy New York to a full-service digital agency in her role as Director of Digital Strategies & spent a decade in digital advertising.

Raina was also the founder of Light up Malawi – a venture to bring renewable energy to the country of Malawi through policy reform, job creation and the creation of a sanctioned pilot program for all manufacturers of solar, biomass, and wind energy products.

Raina holds a B.S. in Film Production from Boston University, an M.A. in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU’s ITP program and an M.Des.S. in Design Studies for Digital Applications in Urban Planning and Architecture from Harvard University. Currently, she is also a member of The Council on Foreign Relations.

She says, “My father was a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and always encouraged us to pursue as much education as we could.”

High point in career

“I hope I have not hit it yet! But I have had a lot of fun in all my careers – I enjoyed  my work in the advertising industry and being a government innovator – State Department, Broadcasting Board of Governors – all high points, meeting and having dinner with President Obama and him thanking me for my contribution,  a huge high point.”

Most challenging assignment so far

“Fundraising for a startup can be very challenging.”

Greatest inspiration  

“I have so many women and men I look up to for different reasons – I’ve never had just one inspiration as it is always changing. Right now I really think some of my friends are the most inspiring people to me.”

Most important milestone in life

“My son of course!”

Women are the better halves. What does it mean?

“It means that you’re only as good as the partnership you’ve entered into — my husband makes everything in my career possible and I support him in his goals and growth too. We’re each other’s better halves.”