How this Woman Leader Mastered the Art of Career Pivots
By: WE Staff | Thursday, 8 February 2024
Dr Vani Sud Dhindsa, is a qualified dentist, an experienced teacher and an author. Armed with a Master’s from XLRI Jamshedpur, Dr Vani has previously worked with Vedantu. She currently leads India operations for new-age social media platform Wildr.
Dr Vani speaks to Women Entrepreneur India about her unusual career journey and women in leadership. She believes that employers can do a lot to boost women’s representation in India’s business landscape. Here are choice excerpts from the conversation.
Your career trajectory has been quite unusual. You studied to become a dentist, transitioned into becoming a passionate teacher and are now heading an innovative startup in the Internet space. Can you briefly take us through this journey and your thought process behind picking each of your professional endeavours?
Transition is an important part of our development – our growth, age and career are constantly evolving. If there is one thing that I have always tried to follow in my life it has been not letting myself feel stuck. I am a firm believer in consistently innovating, improvising, and the ability to constantly work towards a future that I envision for myself. I have seen a lot of people who are very content being where they are and not challenging the status quo. That is something that I have always done. I have endeavored to work towards self-improvement. I believe opportunities will come your way. Look for them and seize them. Most importantly, continuously upskilling yourself so that when the opportunity arrives, you are ready for it.
To answer your specific question about what has been my thought process behind picking each of these professional endeavors: to be honest, I recently read an interesting sentence from Steve Jobs, ‘the dots connect only in hindsight’. In every phase of my life, I have endeavored for constant progress towards broadening my horizons, financial gains for myself and my family, learning about where the world is moving with technology and Infrastructure. Thus, leading me to where I am today. Being the Country Head of Wildr, my mission is to make social networking a meaningful, safe, authentic, and valuable space on the internet where people learn to be a better version of themselves and are able to express themselves freely – resonating with what Wildr stands for.
Tell us about the early years of your life. What were some of the key influences that shaped you into becoming who you are today?
I had the most beautiful childhood, absolutely idyllic, tucked away in a small defence Cantonment of the country. It is so important for a child to have enough and yet not have an excess because my typical middle-class upbringing is something that kept me in very good stead, throughout life. This not only made me extremely ambitious, but in so many ways it defined how much of a risk taker I become, how it kept me grounded, and how it’s shaped so many favorable decisions in my life, especially when it comes to working for the greater good of the society.
You are a highly passionate educator and have also authored a book for NEET aspirants. What about being an educator excites you? Also tell us about the impact that you wish to create through your work as an educator?
I firmly opine that India has great potential, because we are a young nation with a million dreams. Therefore, it becomes critical that we guide our youth well. Neet educator was just another way of bringing that paradigm shift in the consciousness of the children of our country to think about nationalism, our rich and varied culture, reinstate that pride in our civilization, and at the same time make them think like 21st-century global citizens. This is the impact I believe I have created in helping to raise a more progressive, aware, and vocal generation and this is what I want to keep doing manifold with Wildr.
Career pivots are not always easy. However, you have mastered this art. Drawing from your personal experience what are some key pointers that women professionals must keep in mind while planning a career pivot?
Career pivots are never easy as they always come with some degree of self-doubt, stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and a wrong decision at times. However, I feel women would make informed decisions backed by strong financial fundamentals, if they tend to develop a good sounding board and mentors on the way. Furthermore, investing in networking and upskilling, women can not only plan but ace career pivots. I have seen women undersell themselves, feel incapable of leadership roles, and hold themselves back even when they are the best amongst their workforce. We should get out of this mindset.
Women’s representation in the workforce and in leadership roles has gradually been inching higher across all industries. However, women continue to face societal and system challenges that deter them from building successful careers. With respect to that, can you highlight some of the most prevalent challenges that India women face currently?
The inherent desire to manage it all, home and office and to ace it is the biggest roadblock to a sense of freedom and fulfilment. It is acceptable to not be the best in everything you choose to do and women must get over the innate sense of guilt they have when they don’t ace any one thing in their life. As women forge ahead in many a male bastion, they will face biases and will have to challenge the status quo. Moreover, get rid of self-doubt. Though I believe, we stand very strong and proud on the shoulders of countless women who have sacrificed a lot for us to be where we are and I also feel this is the best time to be born a woman.
In your opinion how can women professionals over the aforementioned career challenges? In what ways can employers help female employees build a successful and long-lasting career?
Companies can do a lot.
To begin with, companies should ensure women have leadership roles. I have seen a few truly women-led organizations, one of them being Wildr. The ecosystem of having a woman lead can be inspirational and have an overall positive influence on countless women around. I question why in today's day and age we sometimes still have to ask for pay parity, maternity leaves, and crèches for children. These should be things of the past in today’s workforce.
As 2024 unfolds, what is your wish and hope for women’s empowerment and their inclusion in the workforce. What advice would you like to give to aspiring women leaders?
Why are we still questioning ‘can women have it all’? To all the women: I want to say that women can have it all, if not now. When? Focus on your strengths, do what you love doing and you will have the determination to ‘have it all’ and create the right balance.