Empathy and clear communication are key to succeed in a fast-paced environment, believes Kyndryl’s Kush Mahajan

Kush shares her two-decade-long journey of working with companies, employees and leaders, and helping them understand the value of being empathetic, bold, straightforward, and crisp in their communication to succeed in the corporate world.

Committed, resilient, and honest - that’s how Kush Mahajan, HR leader - Domestic Business, Kyndryl likes to describe herself as she recalls her wish to become an entrepreneur.

“As my father was the only earning member in the family, I didn’t want to depend on anyone, and I realised I had to build things for myself and my family. That’s how my entrepreneurial mindset came into being,” Kush tells YourStory.

Belonging to a middle-class family, Kush had to pursue MBA on her parents’ insistence because pursuing her ambitions of starting a business looked difficult at a stage when the family had limited resources. “I remember expressing my strong displeasure to my parents about my disinterest in the field,” she adds.

Kush’s story falls under the ‘Lead like her’ series that shines the spotlight on women leadership at Kyndryl. In a candid interview with YourStory, Kush speaks about her journey, her entrepreneurial mindset, her accomplishments in the corporate world, and more.

Venturing into the corporate world

Kush is no believer of big plans, and is of the view that one must always experiment with new assignments and roles. That’s how she also ventured into HR, a territory she had never dreamt of.

“I still remember the day I appeared for CAT. I scored a gold medal in MBA in HR. Post that, I picked up some freelancing projects, worked with a few startups, did a lot of work around recruitment, HR services, talent, and payroll, and there has been no looking back ever since,” she shares.

In her 20-year-long professional journey, Kush has always been fortunate to have supportive mentors and leaders. “I have also received a great deal of physical, mental and emotional support from my parents, husband, son, in-laws at every step of the way,” adds Kush.

Journey at Kyndryl

While she cherishes all her professional experiences, Kush believes that her current role has offered her a 360-degree view.

“You can't stay at 30,000 feet and talk about things. When you go deeper, you learn things and you make mistakes. But you learn and do not repeat mistakes, and that’s something that I live by. Each day, I am learning something new and adding value to my own life as well as in the lives of my colleagues,” she adds.

Her time at Kyndryl has also helped her develop a deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion, making her strive towards building an inclusive work culture. She also recounts her experiences of never feeling being ‘left out’ because of her gender. “In fact, I was eight months pregnant and I received a promotion. As an organisation, Kyndryl is culturally strong and does not believe in any disparity or stereotypes,” she says.

Kush believes that it is critical for leaders to be bold and have clarity in their thoughts if they want to break stereotypes and build inclusive culture. It is also essential to be crisp and clear in your communication, so that the person on the other side understands the expectations well.

“You have to be straightforward, firm, clear, and transparent. You don’t have to bring out a separate version of yourself in such conversations,” says Kush.

Reiterating the strong culture followed at Kyndryl, she adds, “We are a group of restless people, who want to dive into any idea that can positively impact our clients. We are devoted to every task that we do and every challenge we undertake. Empathy is at the centre of everything that we do, while we deliver fast-paced solutions for our clients or employees,” she shares.

Enabling the next generation

Kush believes that one has to step into the shoes of employees to create true on-ground impact.

“Never lose your human angle. Try to be empathetic and respond to their issues accordingly. It’s important not to follow a paintbrush approach. Everyone is unique, so you need to delve deeper to understand pain points and come up with a solution,” she shares.

For Kush, a strong and fit body is the foundation for better thinking and reasoning. For over a year and a half, she has been practising a healthy lifestyle that has made a remarkable difference in her life.

“My advice to aspiring professionals – eat, work, sleep and repeat, but also pursue hobbies, work out, read and live your life. It's easy to get caught up worrying about the future or regretting the past. Instead, focus on appreciating the present. Everything that has happened in the past has led you to become who you are today,” she concludes.


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