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If you are ambitious, you will feel alone. Accept that: Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, MD, e2e People Practices

Varsha Adusumilli
posted on 1st December 2013
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yeshasvini (1)Yeshasvini Ramaswamy is the brain behind Satsang, a non-profit initiative, consisting of a group of 15 senior professionals. The idea is to identify struggling entrepreneurs, mentor them, and if necessary, turn the company around and exit it. If their attempts are not successful, they even advise the entrepreneur to look at something else. In 2012, FORTUNE/US Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership selected Yeshasvini to promote women leadership and entrepreneurship in India.

She started her own company called e2e People Practices four years back, and runs it in Bangalore.

A former management consultant at Infosys BPO, Yeshasvini has built her expertise in people management areas such as policy formulations, people structuring and audits, leadership training and interventions, talent acquisition and creating people engagement models to help organizations track their ROI in the areas of retention and business performance. Over the years, she has managed migrations “Build Operate Transfer” models from countries such as USA, Australia and England in the areas of people engagement in the financial, BPO, and IT industry segments.  She has trained more than 3000 people in areas pertaining to leadership principles, self management, managing people in a dynamic environment, personality development, certification awareness programs, etc.

She has been chosen as one of the Program Directors at IIM-B to create an accelerator program for the alumni of all IIMs in India and for the final year graduating students.

She shares her secret sauce with HerStory.

Learning to be independent

I was born in Coimbatore and grew up in Delhi. My father was an IAS officer. My upbringing has been extremely public from a perspective of visiting villages to Rashtrapati Bhavan. I have seen everything from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich. My mother was a gold medalist in Economics. My parents taught me to use computers when I was very young. I was blessed with very forward-thinking parents.

One thing I have learnt from my parents is the importance of honesty and being true to your value system. I have grown up to be a patriot because of my parents and my grandparents. I have learned to be humble, independent and stand up for myself.

Turning entrepreneur

Growing up, I wanted to join the army. I had that dream in me for a long time. I also wanted to become a tennis player, though I ended up becoming an entrepreneur. I come from a family with absolutely no business background. We used to worship Saraswati at home, and never Lakshmi. After 13 years of consulting with organizations like Infosys and Velankani conglomerate, I thought about what next. One of my mentors encouraged me to go down this entrepreneurial path. The main reason why I became an entrepreneur was to add value to the field of consulting. If you look at advice, it was never appreciated in India, because it is available for free everywhere. We have touched over 51 clients over the last four years since I started my company. It has been absolutely worthwhile.

Building network outside work

I started the women’s forum for CIIE. I would love to associate myself with any organization that is doing meaningful work for women. 50% of the population is women, but this segment doesn’t have the much needed voice nor enough platforms to speak up. We have built meaningful workshops for women. For example, we have done numerous finance workshops for women, because we found out from surveys that women kind of shy away from finance. They don’t want to take care of finances, they want to leave it to someone else, and it is not an empowering state to be in. We did a study on culture, we wanted to know how to create an inclusive workplace. What we figured is that in women’s conferences, we only invite women, but women’s inclusion summits should be open to men. I was selected as one of the 25 women from all across the world for a sponsored trip to the US by FORTUNE/US Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. These were all women who have a great future in their own country. We spent a lot of time in Washington. We met many parliamentarians. We looked at what can be done from a policy level and we had dinner with Hillary Clinton. She agreed to mentor us, should we venture into politics. Then we were taken to Silicon Valley, I was mentored by one of the Fortune 500 CEOs. The last week of the trip look us to New York, where we met many bankers and learnt how the financial markets work.

Dream big, aim to grow

If you are ambitious, you will feel alone, you have to come to terms with that. There are always skeptics who will discourage you. For me, the whole US trip was a great morale booster, because I saw ladies across the world who were facing similar issues but were not giving up. Now I have a network of women from across the world who dream big. I have seen women from Afghanistan and Europe who were running businesses, and they face far tougher challenges that we do. It was a huge learning opportunity for me.

I have also started a CEO Satsang, a diverse club of entrepreneurial CEOs. We have classes, group discussions, and we really punch holes into each other’s business plans. We, basically, push them to grow.

My big goal is that I don’t want to compromise with the status quo. I want to become a bigger and better company, I want to become a global company. Also what drives me now is exploring what I can do for my country. The push for me to move out of the country and make it large is huge. But I like making a difference here, even though it makes things tougher for me.

Grow thick-skinned

Earlier you get comfortable with money, the better you are able to channelize resources and run your organization. That is an important basic lesson. The second learning would be to believe in yourself and take advice from others. Never lose touch with people who have been with you come what may. Don’t let success go to your head at all.

If you are a woman, most people think you are not ambitious about growing and scaling your business. They think you are doing it for pocket money and your husband must be supporting you. I am sure they don’t ask these questions to me. Focus on what you do, and consistently deliver value to your customers, and things will change. You should have thick skin in business – that has been my biggest learning. I have learned to develop thick skin over time.

You have to be forthright when it comes to seeking help. I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have, if not for the mentors I had. In the US, they formalize this process. They say if you want to be successful, you have to have a personal board of directors, just like your company has a board. Women seek help less often than men. We too should seek help and advice from outside without any hesitation.

I am also very spiritually inclined because it is a very lonely journey as an entrepreneur.

We are our biggest enemies

 

There are two quotes that I always remember: “We don’t fear failure as much as we fear our own success.”

There are two quotes that I always remember: “We don’t fear failure as much as we fear our own success.”

“Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.”

I think we are our biggest enemies. We set too many limitations for ourselves. To grow big, we need to fight with ourselves. Also I think as a society in India, we carry too much emotional baggage. In the larger scheme of things, many small things don’t matter at all. Live everyday as if you creating your destiny every day and with pride.

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