Jul 09, 2020
Fresh out of university and working in an IT firm, Sucharita would often pass by the tall gates of the under-construction ISB campus at Gachibowli, Hyderabad. She would look at the gates longingly and wonder Wow! Only if I could get a chance to study here. Two decades later, the dream was realized. For a person who considers learning to be a continuous journey and an imperative in life, there's wasn't a better choice than ISB (Indian School of Business). Sucharita Singh, Co '19, is an HR director responsible for India and Australia at Electronic Arts, a gaming company.
'I see myself as a different person than I was before I graduated from ISB. It changed my world and world view. People who know me can make out the stark difference in how I have begun to communicate and process thoughts.'
While Sucharita was passionate about her work and enjoyed it, the need for a better understanding of an organization's business nuances grew stronger with time. She needed to get a holistic understanding of the HR cog in the wheels of business. 'I could feel a gap somewhere. I felt the need to evolve my perspective. I needed an edge vis-à-vis other contenders nursing a similar ambition. This is where the need to invest in learning arose.' Sucharita searched for options and advice from a colleague, a PGPMAX alumnus, who came in handy. A world-class institute was in the neighborhood.
'ISB is well suited for executives. It has such an amazing array of world-class faculty having varied experiences. The campus, the library, all of it gave me a sense of upliftment.' What once seemed like a drudgery became a pleasurable experience, she says about case studies. 'Reading a case study but was never a joy to me, but I soon began enjoying it because of how it connected with the topic.' The diverse experience of her peers, their diversity of thoughts expanded her horizon. 'All of that gave me a different perspective and taught me that the ability to handle diversity was important as a leader. One must not be limited to just their own limited thoughts and learning. Situation in the class was a simulation of the real-world—circumstances which required a diversity of thoughts to negotiate strategy, employee etc.' Getting a grasp of different situations, different people, and the ways to deal with them was valuable learning for her.
'Finance was not my strength. I could barely make sense of a balance sheet for the complications it entailed. But now I understand the key data points and how they tie up to the bigger picture. The subject became interesting the way the professors drove the curriculum.' At her level of operation, getting a bigger picture is essential without getting into the nitty-gritty. 'I should be able to pick up the key things when the data is presented. Now when I build a plan or a strategy, I first see the financials and how I am adding dollar value and making money for the stakeholder.' HR is not only about people engagement, but it is also about aligning the objectives with the value one delivers. That's the change in perspectives ISB has brought about, she muses.
According to Sucharita, a leader must have three important leadership qualities—empathy, leveraging team members' strengths, and constant evolution by investing in lifelong learning. 'As a leader, I must show in my actions the values at work. I should set the culture. I should not lose sight of values such as ethics, integrity, honesty, and beingful leadership, irrespective of where I go or how much money I make. The message for me is that I should not forget my higher calling. I should continuously build my skills of beingful leadership in the organizations and as an individual.' These things got reinforced in her listening to the several eminent speakers and distinguished corporate leaders that visited the campus.
'As a person, I am optimistic, and I think it is important to show my positivity irrespective of the situation because my team is looking up to me. How you show up at work determines the mood of your team.' In the current situation that is freighted with anxiety and ambiguity due to the pandemic, she, as an HR personnel, has to make sure people see an upside. She has to help them wade their way through challenging times and find a positive way forward. 'Being positive and energetic, no matter how challenging the situation is setting up a positive culture. If I, as a leader, demonstrate positivity and empathy and show the right skills to the team's people, they will be more open and will be happier.' She encourages her team to indulge in mental wellness activities to cope with the change the current situation has brought about.
Sucharita is a strong and independent individual and comes from a multicultural family. The pandemic has provided her a wonderful opportunity to indulge in her hobbies of oil painting, reading books, and photography. Besides, she is exercising and exploring meditation to see through the tough times.
Being an ISB alumnus gives her access to different types of people in various vocations. According to her, it's easy to establish contact with fellow alumnus and reach out for help with a little introduction.
She says one must enjoy the ISB journey, cherish the memories, and leave no room for regret because it is short. 'Garner whatever learning you can from your peers and the faculty. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, and these times will never return.'