Leaders

Nayantara Chatterjee: A Trailblazer Striving Towards Skilling India

Nayantara Chatterjee: A Trailblazer Striving Towards Skilling India

Nayantara Chatterjee
Co-Founder & Director

Over the past several decades, women in the workplace have faced barriers in the form of societal perceptions on how women should act and live. Although there have been significant improvements for women in the workplace, there is still a lot left to be done. According to a study by McKinsey in 2021, there were 86 women for every 100 men promoted to be a manager, which is encouraging. However, striving for a 50-50 gender balance is progressive thinking and the need of the hour. Presence of women in leadership roles, will enhance the gender diversity of an organisation by opening new prospects and further career progression for younger women who enter the workforce. To add to this, a women’s inclination toward a holistic, self-reflective approach could explain why female employees define leadership differently than some men do. One such woman leader who is redefining leadership methods in India is Nayantara Chatterjee, Co-Founder & Director, Vidyadhara Consultancy.

A design graduate from NIFT Delhi, Nayantara has been working in the Indian skill development domain for over a decade now, focusing on skilling and up-skilling programmes in the sectors like Apparel, Textile, Management and Entrepreneurship. She has also specialized in vocational skills training & assessment strategy, pedagogy, content development, assessment design and delivery aligned with the NSQF (National Skills Qualifications Framework). With Vidyadhara Consultancy, her main objective is to provide skill based education across the country.

The following is an excerpt from CEO Insights magazine’s exclusive interaction with Nayantara Chatterjee, Co-Founder & Director, Vidyadhara Consultancy.

Throw Some Light On Your Prior Industry Ex­perience And Expertise That You Bring To The Table.

Before setting up Vidyadhara Consultancy, I had worked for one of the leading names in skill development domain who were working on several projects with the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of textiles and later with NSDC and Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. Post this, I began content development for training of unemployed youth in the country, and then I eventually moved to specializing in vocational skills training delivery and assessments. Since I was also heading knowledge management, in the course of my career, I got the opportunity to work with several skill trainers and assessors directly who played a key role in the skills value chain. Hence, I felt that capacity building of these personnel as well as other professionals working in the skilling sector would be of great benefit to improve the overall quality of the skill development initiatives.

Some of the key projects which I have undertaken include being a Jury Panelist – National level - World Skills Competition for ‘Fashion Technology’; Training of Master Trainers & Trainers for Sector Skill Councils, Training of Assessors, Development of Qualification Packs – National Occupational Standards, NSQF aligned Content Development and more. To add to this, in the skill training arena, I hold certifications from India-EU Skill Development Project of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and international certification as a Trainer from SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority).

What Motivated You To Shift Gears And Move From The Field Of Fashion Designing And Establish A Skill Development Firm? What Was The Underly­ing Idea Behind Starting The Firm?

During the final year of my education as a Design student, I had the chance to decide and work with a fashion designer and complete my final term project with a design collection. However, interestingly the organization for which I was working back then was in search of interns who could develop technical multimedia content for skills training in leather and apparel sector. This project was particularly focused toward training youth from rural background and I immediately felt inspired to be of service in this area. Ever since, I have chosen to actively work in the skill development sector. Over the years, with my work, I have received a global perspective of how skill development works. Via Vidyadhara Consultancy, my vision is to create sustainable models of skill-based education which is not a copy-paste of pre-existing models but something that is relevant for our current times. At the same time, through Vidyadhara I also want to share India’s culture of value-based learning. Being an India based firm, we understand the grass-root reality of our country, we embrace its diversity and want to integrate the ancient wisdom that exists; such as systems of yoga - looking at a holistic growth of individual – physical, mental and spiritual.

Our special soft skills programs are specially designed for professionals to actively practice compassion, kindness and empathy in all that we do, and create leaders who can perceive any situation from a higher perspective not only from a personal/ egoistic view. Therefore, with India’s skill landscape shaping up, I feel it becomes extremely important to not just create mechanical training models, but also systems that integrate human values and attach priority to it. This is why soft skills are so important. Behavioural and attitudinal training is key to employment as we know, it is not just about an education or qualification certificate.

Tell Us More About Vidyadhara Consultancy. What Are The Range Of Services That Vidyadhara Consultancy Specializes In. What Is It That Gives You An Edge Over Other Competitors?

We are working with a vision to provide excellence in skills and education and build a culture of unfettered freedom of thought, deep-rooted respect for teachers and extraordinary discipline for continuous growth. Backed by a team of TVET professionals, educationists and skill development experts, Vidyadhara Consultancy is committed towards enhancing the quality of vocational skills and education globally. Our firm draws its inspiration from India’s rich heritage of value-based learning and an all-round approach towards individual’s growth. Vidyadhara Consultancy aims to contribute towards building sustainable models of outcome-based learning for individuals, universities and corporates through its specialized training and assessment services.

Some of the new age skills that we emphasize on include Design Thinking, Soft Skills for Students & Professionals, Business Communication, Entrepreneurship, Training Skills – Trainers and Master trainers – how to conduct competency based training, and Assessment Skills – For Assessors and lead assessors – conducting outcome based or competency based assessments. To meet our objectives we take Learner-centric approach, our focus is on Understanding of both the national and international standards and contextualizing training to meet specific needs. We also have hybrid model – trainer led as well as self-learning opportunities. Our network of training professionals are spread pan- India who are specially trained by Vidyadhara on its value system, to add to this, our training is outcome based.

Highlight On The Various Roles & Responsibilities That You Currently Shoulder At Vidyadhara Consultancy. What Are The Significant Mile­stones That You Have Achieved So Far?

Being the co-founder and director of Vidyadhara Consultancy, I’m directly responsible for defining new goals, building sustainable models of business, selection of projects, implementation and monitoring. I enjoy the freedom to experiment with new programs and observe its impact, studying what worked what didn’t, and keep improving upon every aspect to provide quality service to our partners.

As an entrepreneur there are numerous challenges that we come across, major ones being findingthe right people and organizations to collaborate with, for certain projects; as we must agree on not just the financial aspects but also the long-term vision, values and ethics. Hence, we always strive to scale up without losing the core essence of Vidyadhara in all its internal and external activities. We keep the inspiration and driveand attempt to be consistent in that. Not losing focus on what we set out to do and meditating regularly are crucial factors.

Some of the crucial milestones I have achieved so far includes Capacity building of 3000+ trainers in Skill Development Sector for platform & technical skills, Development of 80+ National Occupational Standards for job roles in Apparel, textile and management sectors, Developing online ToT (Training of Trainers) &ToA (Training of Assessors) models which have been implemented nationally for platform skills and Apparel sector skills and participating in World skills Competition India as a jury panelist for fashion technology 2021-22, 2018-19.

How Do You Keep Yourself Well Aligned With The Changes In The Industry?

At Vidyadhara we have our own tech-based initiatives such as regular polls, quizzes and interactive webinars through which we observe the changing trends. Post pandemic, there has been a greater focus on online programs and implementation to the extent possible. In my view, doing regular programs that connect people from all parts of the country and the world is one of the best ways to get first hand understanding of the situation and experience. Apart from that, being part of TVET forums where one gets regular updates on the changing scenario, policies etc.

What Has Been Your Success Mantra Behind Your Successful Stint As An Entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur, I am driven by Purpose – to contribute meaningfully towards human development through skills and education. It is essential to have clarity of one’s own life purpose and do work which expands and uplifts one’s consciousness. I believe success can be defined in various ways however, one important factor is having a sense of inner fulfillment and joy. The attitude with which one chooses to do any work makes a lot of difference in both one’s internal state of being and the outcome of the external activity.

Through Vidyadhara, I wish to facilitate this process of self-discovery, development and continuous growth of individuals with a strong foundation of value system in place. All the programs offered online & offline contribute to this directly or indirectly. One guiding leadership philosophy that I practice myself is to see calmly and clearly what is needed in a situation rather than what 'i' (my ego-self) wants. At the organization level as well, we operate with the objective and attitude of how best an enterprise can serve and add value in a given sector for any project.

What Would Be Your Advice To Future Business Leaders And Entrepreneurs In The Future?

To the budding leaders and entrepreneurs, I would like to say, Meditate on your life purpose, Align your work vision with your life purpose – it is the key to sustaining the inspiration and drive, Think holistically about yourself and where you wish to contribute meaningfully, pursue skill sets that can be developed – Do Not limit yourself only to what you know now, Think sustainability – People, Planet, Profit and lastly, Be flexible as needed, but be firm in your values – personal and professional!