Bharat to India Inc. - Stories of Grit
Every month we honor achievers from India Inc. These go getters are people who have risen from the hinterlands of Bharat. They have overcome the language and cultural barriers to rise to top echelons of business, government, education, sports or arts . Their stories of grit and determination are the exact tonic to motivate you to dream big and achieve your dreams.
Dr. Pooja Devi
Senior Scientist, CSIO, Govt. of India
An interview with the Science Superwoman who stumbled on the English barrier and then overcame it. “The main problem is that English is not taught as a language in most schools, it is taught as a subject”, said Dr Pooja Devi. This was by far the most thought-provoking expression of the issue I have been working on for the last decade or so. While I was surprised that she could put it across so succinctly (Most of us who have come from the other side of the English divide struggle to express ourselves succinctly in English), I should have known better. After all, Dr Devi’s rapid rise to the enviable position that she is in today in the world of science and technology research is largely due to her ability to distil the available information, cut out the noise and focus on the real issue. Dr Devi hails from a small village in Haryana and is among the first generation of her family to complete schooling and attend college. With the odds stacked against her as far as her dream of becoming a top scientist was concerned, she had two blessings from the almighty. One was her intellect and the second was her father who did not leave any stone unturned to set her up for success. She topped her school in the village and then joined the school in the nearby city with the hope to get access to the best opportunities. Unfortunately, her performance plunged. Her father saw her struggling. He made two decisions (Watch the interview video to know what he did) that helped Dr Devi get a grip on her new environment and finally pass out of the school with flying colours. There was no looking back for her. She went from one achievement to another in the field of scientific research. She says, even though almost 20 years have passed since then and she has realized her dream of becoming a top scientist (Dr Devi is counted among the top young scientists in the country today) she still makes it a point to keep working on her ability to communicate effectively in English. The reason is that the world of science and research is highly globalised and English is the only common language connecting scientists and their research across the world.
Dr. Milind Darda
Founder and CEO 32 Smiles Dental Clinics
The incredible journey from an inferiority complex due to not speaking in English to becoming a celebrated doctor entrepreneur and a motivational speaker Established first as “The New English School” in 1880, Fergusson college in Pune is counted among the first institutions in India to work on the English medium western education system. Now imagine landing up in this haloed institution with hardly any ability to speak English. This is what Dr Milind Darda’s encountered. Milind was academically a star. His hard work and intellect ensured that he got a seat at one of India’s best colleges. He had barely enjoyed the warm glow of his accomplishment when reality hit him hard. He found himself surrounded by young achievers from all around the city and even some from other parts of the country. These young guns were not just good at their studies, they also spoke confidently in English. Milind recounts: At Fergusson, we were divided by a language barrier. There was only a handful of us Marathi medium boys and we used to be aloof from the mainstream English speaking student body. We were always eating and hanging out within our small bunch. Slowly, I started developing an inferiority complex. I used to tell myself “Milind, you can’t speak English like them so they are better than you.” Without having gone through the experience, nobody can fully appreciate the mental scars that can result from the day-to-day struggles of being caught in a situation where your English is considered a proxy for your abilities. You are looked down upon, day in and day out, because of your poor English. These scars can last a lifetime in some cases. Milind further describes: Whether it was the feeling of embarrassment when I wanted to speak to any of the girls and I couldn’t continue the conversation due to poor English or my inability to make my presence felt during any group activities, my self-confidence took such a hit that I started doubting my abilities. I started feeling maybe I am not good enough. From this low point, Dr Milind Darda has traversed a fantastic journey of self-transformation. He is today a sought-after trainer in the Dental Medicine field. He travels around the country to give lectures and holds seminars leaving the audience enthralled by his panache. Not just this, he is also the founder of 32 smiles chain of dental clinics in Pune where he leads a team of more than 30 doctors and medical support staff. How did he achieve this transformation? How did he improve his English communication skills? He shares his 3-point formula in the interview video. Please watch the video and also share it with others who need encouragement to overcome their own struggle with English.
Group Technical Product Manager, GE Health
An interview with the cutting-edge IT professional, entrepreneur, adept problem solver, passionate communicator and much more, who began with extremely humble beginnings accompanied by the English Language barrier and then overcame it. “Communication is not only what you say, it is also about how you say it.“ With the help of a couple of day to day examples Shweta puts across the importance of having the right communication skills. With effective communication, the thought process behind what you say becomes so much more clear and gives so much more confidence to your stakeholder. So it's 100% true that communication is language plus the thought process that you bring with you to the table. These are some of the most pertinent points shared by Shweta during the interview when I asked her what exactly she thinks about the importance of communication skills. “When I say communicate, it does not mean you use big words. You don't have to use very complex English language words. It is how effectively and to the point you communicate what you're doing or what you want to do that gives you immense confidence and helps you grow faster as well. In the IT industry, effective communication is key to your success and definitely good vocabulary plays an important role”. This was what she said when I asked her - “So why should anybody who's a software developer or a product manager even bother about communication skills?” “Storytelling is the buzzword in business communication these days. It is the narrative that is really important in mid-senior leadership roles. One needs to translate vision into something tangible for your team to work on and achieve milestones. So, creating a suitable narrative for your team and then also communicating it further with the leadership, is the key to good storytelling. I mean, storytelling is really important, more so when you are in a leadership role, mid-senior roles like me. You need to relate to what the company is aiming at. Leadership has already put up a strategy for you. You need to put it across to your team in smaller modules for them to relate to it and understand it. This also helps to motivate them and tell them that everything they do is going to add value to the entire project. Lots of one level below and one level up communication is happening on a daily basis.”
CA, Finance Manager, Wipro Ltd.
An interview with a dynamic Chartered Accountant, Finance Manager at WIPRO, passionate learner, super mom and much more. Shreepada started her life with extremely humble beginnings from a village near Jajpur in Orissa. Her sincere desire from childhood was to be fluent in English. See the entire video to know more about how she was plagued by the English Language barrier and how she overcame it. “I always wanted to study in an English medium school and college. I had never even seen an English newspaper in my life.“ This is how Shreepada begins the conversation. Having studied in Ravenshaw University at Cuttack, Orissa and then moving to Chennai to do her CA articleship, she talks about the various occasions at different stages of her life, where she struggled to communicate due lack of fluency in the English language. “Along with thorough technical knowledge it is also important to have the right communication skills. Being technically sound is important, and when working in a team effective communication is extremely important to get the job done efficiently, otherwise incorrect communication will defeat the entire purpose. Also, people tend to lose interest in your efforts if there is no clarity in your communication. Confidence comes with a good command over your language.” These are some of the most pertinent points shared by Shreepada during the interview when I asked her what exactly she thinks about the importance of English Language in the IT Industry.
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