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#TheFireInHer - Millennial leaders: breaking the glass
Organizational Cultures

#TheFireInHer - Millennial leaders: breaking the glass

Aishwarya Jain
November 3, 2023

It's Women’s day and we thought we could break some glass. Well, the occasion is to celebrate with a clink of glasses hopefully with champagne but also to tell you the story of how we broke the glass - the one in the ceiling.

Our pedigree, we pursued an education in subjects we were either not really interested in or did not feel the passion for or could not provide us the opportunity of gainful employment to learn and grow, so we went hunting. For something vibrant, exciting, high growth and high reward. To crack the confines of global corporations and to find the one that would trust in us and take the bet. That would line up the opportunity to match our dreams and for us to show what we meant by mettle - our mettle.

Every other company we looked at, the leadership was pretty much cookie-cutter, white-haired men in their 40s and 50s from a label wearing on the lapel pedigree. Stuff made of legends created circa 1998 and not 2018. The world was ours, we had the spirit, we had the grit and the ambition to get out of our confines and define a future.

How millennial leaders are steering a change

We needed a purpose and an opportunity - something to own, someone to support and show us the path when we got lost but someone to trust us and leave us alone to fall, stumble, get up and learn. To grow by learning, to show by doing. Just a chance, a one time break that will set us up on the path to be equal and to prove that we are well worth it. 

And who are we?

We are Nishita and Aishwarya, all just out of college a couple of years back. One of us the traditional engineer (tech of course) but got the shudders sitting down and programming all day, the other a Masters in Biotechnology, tried to remain true to choice but discovered the limits of boredom at 23 doing documentation on lab work in research. We ran from our predestined shelters.

#TheFireInHer - Millennial leaders: breaking the glass | peopleHum

The scent of Coviam

A new age fast-growing dynamic startup. Stumbled upon it. Desperate enough to hunt down the alleys of a fresh start, even the bottom of the stairs was ok, realizing we needed a break. Applied for internship - did not care about lost experience or switching fields - just needing the opportunity to prove, in something we loved - living, working, marketing and selling to people.

We had the stars of travel in our eyes, of a jet-set life but really not the vision of being part of an aircrew. We preferred the world of business and power. To build our own bridges and stand on our own pedestals. To go where we alone could.

Coviam was looking to give freshers a break, since the company was working on something unique, to build global platforms out of India. To go where no other company based out of India has gone before. To take on the global biggies in future age tech platforms. To change the world with the vision of technology. I loved the story. Chose Digital marketing and sales as an internship track and got started. 3 weeks onboarding later, we started working in a small team formulating approach, strategy, and plan for building the stairway. The stairway that would get us to success.

One lesson, pedigree in Sales and Marketing did not count since pedigree was more of a disadvantage. Set notions and successes of the past will become failures of tomorrow if we felt we had arrived, did not need to learn more and had lost our fire and grit. Being newbies helped since most of the millennial leaders like us just needed a purpose. A purpose that we could own, make it a passion and do what it took to succeed. A relentless approach to getting closer and closer to the objective with each passing day.

So what was the journey like?

Hectic, exhilarating, full of new things learned everyday, supportive leaders, open access, the ability to set our own challenges and to achieve them, to celebrate together and mourn together on targets exceeded or missed.

What we learned

Focus your energies on never giving up, showing grit, persisting, learning, never get bogged down and results will start coming in. It took time, a slow grunt, a persistence, let's do this daily and stick with it, breadcrumbs laid out around the internet for customers to follow the trail.

Long hours, late nights, phone calls with clients, perfecting the mock pitch, learning about the platform, changes every day, working with product and tech, getting a feel of the 186 countries we sold to, learning culture and nuances. Never stopping, never pausing.

It started slow but we shadowed people with more experience till we got tired of practicing in the mirror and handled our first call independently. It then started becoming second nature as we talked to customers, showed our product, explained their benefits.

Working closely with senior leaders and our CEO, we kept in close touch on all moving things. Strategy, plan, execution, Voice of Customer, metrics, targets, goals, commissions. Learned everything drinking from a fire hose.

Eventually, we were given a chance to lead our own teams - starting small but as growth flooded in, growing our teams to a size we would have never imagined in our professional lives. We now interview, select, assign, onboard, track, measure and grow our own teams. All within 2 years of joining. Our market? 186 countries. Customers we have sold to? Exceeding 20,000 worldwide.

What role did the company culture play in our growth?

The right company and the right people with the right environment and culture, combined with the inclusivity and support that is provided - if you have this recipe, grab with both hands, don't dream of anything else and dig your heels in. Such opportunities do not come by in a lifetime. Work the role, the responsibility, ask questions, be vocal, take on challenges, keep a smile, the floodgate will start opening. The positive “can do” energy will be recognized. 

Open leaders will support, coach, mentor and provide for. They will help you decide at first and then let you decide the future of your team and function. Be there to serve you and support and clear the thorns so you can move ahead with speed. 

Such companies, cultures, and leaders are difficult to come by? You betcha. If you are looking for such an environment and people to learn and grow with, then give us a holler we would love to talk to you. Join our teams and set sail on an adventure with 25 others embarked on the same. We are looking to grow to a 100 in Mumbai so we would love to talk and chalk out.

An open culture, free food, a young dynamic environment, ambitious team, learning environment, growth opportunities galore, global platforms - we even sold in Papua New Guinea and Azerbaijan among the 186 countries, growing at 300% in 60 days, AI, automation and conversational intelligence driven state of the art platforms, a company with 540+ people across 6 countries doubling every year and we chart our own destiny. Building products of the future that seem to instantly become hits and climb the charts into award winning ones (peopleHum won the award for the 2019 global product of the year at the Codie Awards in San Francisco last year and Engati is already ensconced as a top 5 platform globally). 

Come chase the excitement that is Engati - the conversational intelligence and customer experience platform of the future for businesses and peopleHum - the employee experience platform

Leadership with a change

We were mentored personally by our CEO. And not in a directive way but more in a collaborative way, with observations, feedback, inputs, conversations that delved into topics of our choice. The mentoring provided us with a strong basis of support for our careers and also bridged our personal lives with growth, confidence, a boosted self-esteem, and learnings that help us make the right choices on a daily basis. 

We still learn and work together, seek help and support, make mistakes, fall down but get up and learn from them, discuss them, share learnings, compare notes and though we lead 2 different products for business development, we work together as one team, sharing contacts, pursuing cross product opportunities and co-opting to get and gain the best for our teams and for our company.

The leaders open themselves up to share their own stories and experiences, tell us about the approach, the framework we can think to tackle, share their views on situations and experiences, are always connected just 3 feet away to help - advise us on watch-outs and how to research customers, show us how to pitch and weave a story. The humility and the purpose that drives them to do something innovative and ensure that the globe wants and uses our platforms and the trust and faith they put in millennial leaders like us. Their oft repeated statement, the world of tomorrow belongs to you, let people like us not define it or we will end up creating 2011 in 2021. Something we truly admire about and respect in the founders and the other peer leaders that surround us.

Lessons learnt

Many and still adding to the list daily. The motto we work with is “Show up and don't give up”.  The focus, on us learning everything to become polyglots. To enhance our intelligence in all directions be it IQ, EQ or social, creative intelligence. 

Our work and environment teaches us grit, of achievements, of celebrating successes and openly talking about failures. We sit together, eat together, laugh together, party together and commiserate together. It is a life we have chosen for ourselves, leaving our past personas far behind and we won't be changing any of what we have to switch for anything else. 

We have found our calling, it fills us with satisfaction, a sense of challenge, a spring in our step, a reason to roll out of bed, a purpose, a target, a goal and more importantly a belief. The confidence to achieve the purpose is filled by a very supportive leadership, a team that is highly talented and a gratitude in our hearts for having come across an opportunity that we could not have dreamt of at our level of experience and age. 

So thank you everyone who has been part of our journey or who will be. We are thrilled to talk to everyone about our work, our careers, our products and what we can do for you. 

Come sense the excitement. Talk to us or apply for a career here. Your life will never be the same again. We would love to share our stories with you. 

- Nishita G (Engati) and Aishwarya J (peopleHum)

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