Hopscotch Heroes – Dr. Tanvi Gautam
5-min read. Dr. Tanvi Gautam is an award-winning keynote speaker and consultant on leadership in the age of disruption. Winner of the Game Changer award by Workforce Magazine (USA), she is also one of the top 10 HR influencers on social media. A best-selling author as well as the founder and current director of Asia's first Global Women and Leadership Programme at Singapore Management University (Executive Development), Tanvi is on the board of the Asian Region Training and Development Organisation and her ideas have been quoted and published in forums such as Forbes.com, Harvard Business Review, Economic Times and more.
Here’s a look at how this Hopscotch Hero owns the many imbalances in her life and stays on top of it all.
Hopscotch: Tell us about what you do and what this looks like on a daily basis.
Tanvi: I help individuals and organisations become more than they thought they could be. This is done through what I call transformational intelligence – the ability to transform oneself and one's situation to emerge stronger than before. This takes the form of keynotes, teaching at the University, coaching, workshops, writing books, online courses, conference speaking and more. As for my day, pick any three from the list above and you'll get an idea. Each day is different. The only thing common from one day to another is that I love what I do! The day that stops, then everything will change.
H: What is your family background or current situation and how has this influenced your life today?
Tanvi: Interesting you ask! My family has very strong academic roots across many generations and so, obviously, I thought I had to earn a PhD (even though no one said I had to) and I thought I was destined to be in academia. But fate had other plans. I got disrupted with a move to Singapore. This allowed me take another look at my career and think about a life that lay beyond what I had imagined. Today I have my own consulting practice where I am able to apply so much of my skills from my past life to the current one. Nothing is ever lost. One needs to look at repurposing our journey to create a life we may never have imagined.
H: How do you keep work and family life balanced? What are your ‘go to’ coping strategies?
Tanvi: There is no balance. There is always a state of imbalance. Sometimes work has more of me, sometimes family has more of me. And that is to be expected. I do strive for a blend where I am not too leaned in on one side at the expense of the other. It sometimes takes small rituals to makes sure the blend is palatable. For instance, I try and do a screen-free Sunday in our house, so we all get more time together. I travel a fair bit and I do on-location videos of where I am and send it to my son, so he always feels connected. He is older now and following me on Instagram, so while I love the connect, I now have to be careful about what I say.
Time spent with my husband is a priority and so we will say no to invites if we find that our time together will be impacted. We love watching our favourite shows like Madam Secretary together, and so, it is the little rituals that keep the alignment going. But more than anything else, I guard my 'me time' carefully – be that through meditation or annual retreats I take by myself. That core of who you are must always be filled and protected so you can be who you want to be in every other arena of life.
H: What does women’s empowerment mean to you?
Tanvi: I am really passionate about this topic. I started the Women and Leadership Programme for executive women at the Singapore Management University, and today it is a global programme. The women who walk in on day one are not the same as the women who walk out on day three.
It is driven by a very simple principle – women don't need any more empowerment than self-empowerment. You light that spark and watch a woman set the world on fire. I have patience to wait for society and institutions to catch up. That change is coming, slowly and surely. Meanwhile, I have talented, hardworking women who need to own their potential and navigate the work and life scenario with a sense of confidence and can-do attitude – goes back to the transformational intelligence I mentioned earlier.
H: What keeps you moving forward and what threatens to hold you back?
Tanvi: What keeps me moving forward is the power of transformation. When I see the people and firms I work with changed for the better, it is a high like no other. My family’s unconditional support in all my ventures is the rock of what I do. I have been in the trenches; like so many other people I have faced my own share of darkness and struggle. But to rise through those times, having a group of people who believe in you is what allows you to stand up and keep going.
As to what will hold me back, it will surely be my impatience to see the changes I want take place. Transformation is a seductive call to action, but you can't speed up the process – it takes time. Learning to give myself and others that space to evolve at a natural pace has always been a challenge. I am far ahead of where I used to be, but still way off from where I should be. Then again, it is fantastic when I am joined by other impatient leaders because then magic gets accelerated.
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