What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
Professional titles for me are what they are – sometimes you just don’t get a say in how it all sounds and / or comes together. So for me the most important piece is being clear on my purpose. Which are one to catalyse the corporate world by having them understand the value and importance of having “well” employees and two to really have a positive impact on the world around me by supporting people from every walk of life with their constant transformations, no matter what that means for them.
I have spent about 15 years in professional services. Qualifying first as a Chartered Accountant in Audit at PwC, then moving into Financial Advisory and into Consulting at Deloitte where I have spent the last decade. I have lived out of a suitcase for most of my professional career, travelled the world, experienced a working life where burn out was the norm and realised the value of being well and what that could be mean for your career and all round success and resilience.
My current role as head of wellness at Deloitte Consulting in the UK allows me to pair all the lessons, experiences and knowledge I have of the business and working environment with my passion for wellness and health. I am so excited by the current career I have and the side hustle of coaching that I am starting to grow.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
I wanted to be a doctor – specifically an obstetrician. But then when I was in high school I watched the birthing video (with no edits!) and well that view of the world quickly changed. I also dreamt of being the first Indian version of Barbara Walters. I loved her ability to interact with people and get to the heart of stories that touched the world. She was fascinating to watch. I never really got into the TV world, but I did grow this vision out through blogging whether through old blogs I had, linked in articles and the current column I have on this platform. I think it is the form of expression that writing allows me that links to those exact traits I saw in Barbara.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
To be curious and intentional with the things you do, while making time for reflection periodically to allow for adjustments in what you are doing.
It is so easy to get lost in the day to day of a corporate career and just have years pass you by without looking up to even ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Therefore, by using the advice I have been given I am constantly reflecting on the things I am doing and how they relate to my goals / objectives and the grand scheme of things. I also am committed to not putting pressure on how things pan out so I can constantly be in a flow of following my curiosity freely.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
Outside the fact that I am living my dream job. I would have to say it is the fact that I have flexibility and autonomy when it comes to how and when I work – this empowers me to not only work harder but also to work smarter so that I can live a more balanced existence.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
As a chief wellness officer for a big corporate, with a thriving coaching business and a constant spot on a schedule at some big gym teaching spin. All of course would not be complete without living happily with my husband in our house in Wimbledon with a child or two
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
There are so many great charities and organisations that are doing so many things out there. It would hard to just name one. But a recent and budding organisation that I am obsessed with is “opaque”.
Opaque has been started by one of my coaching clients and is a women’s clothing brand focused on empowering the women of today / tomorrow through structured, bright and meaningful statement pieces. Part of the brands’ sales are donated to a charity that provides microfinancing loans to women in Africa, which just adds to the impact and story that it stands for.
However outside of all things that the brand stand for, the reason I am so obsessed with it is because of the name behind the brand. Ayo, who is the brand’s founder represents the millennial woman of today – she entered into a career by chance, has taken it by storm and taken it for what it is, but has allowed herself to explore her creativity even if that meant spending months being lost and confused at what that even was. She has grown alongside the brand and in developing its concept has come to embody what she aspires to be, all while not even recognising it. Even in its “start-up form” you can see the impact she will have for years to come and I love that.
What drives you?
The ability to have a positive impact and influence on the world around me, as well as growth not only within myself but also within those around me.
Along my corporate career journey, I knew I was always doing something that had a positive impact on various organisations, but it was hard to really understand it and / or see it in the day to day. I constantly found myself searching for confirmations of the impact I was having and questioning whether that was the impact I really cared about having. I mean I was growing and I was growing those around me but I just felt like I was selling myself too short on the impact front.
Now in all aspects of the career I have – whether in my corporate day job or my side hustle life – I am constantly growing myself, those around me and having the impact I want to see. My drive is on an ultimate high, but I had to search and work through lots of hoops to get here. So while what drives me wasn’t always showing up in my day to day, in certainly acted as a motivator to build the life I have now.
Any final comments?
I would love to leave everyone with a piece from the Michelle Obama book Becoming, which I COULD NOT recommend more than ever! The last bit of the book really resonated with me and is likely a reflection on what I stand for and try to inspire in others. We are constantly changing and transforming, which is an uncomfortable thought to have. We seek comfort and happiness and transformations can be scary and unnerving. But by accepting that we are all works in progress we can take the pressure off this need to be perfect and place solace in knowing it will continue to evolve.
“It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There is a power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there is grace in being willing to know and hear others. This for me, is how we become.” And to add in my own antidote to this – this is also how we embrace the fact that we are constantly transforming.
What does a normal day look like for you?
I am a professional services junkie and part of the reason I selected the industry was because no day is the same – which makes this a bit hard to answer, but I will try. As an overview….
My days usually start off with an alarm (aka my husband) waking me up a 530AM (some days it is earlier than that), which roles into a routine of 15 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of meditation, time with my hubby, a work out (duration is dependent on the day) and some wellness focused podcast to get me through my morning commute. Once I get to the office the days vary with tasks that look like:
Supporting people with their mental health challenges
Looking at ways the firm can adopt new practices / policies that enforce this idea of taking the wellness of their employees seriously and pushing these changes through with leadership and various supportive operational groups
Holding a variety of wellness focused events for our people
Coaching Junior Talent
Facilitating sessions with our various project teams that centre around wellness and how as teams they can alter practices and day to day operations to support one another from a wellness stand point
Meeting with clients who are growing their wellness initiatives
Constantly replying to emails and organising meetings
Loads of calls with both people within the business and outside the business
Meeting with loads of new vendors and offerings in the wellness space
When the work day is done I will commute home, have dinner with the hubby and some quality time, while then cracking into the side hustle life, which includes studying various coaching methodologies, holding client sessions, networking and looking at ways to grow my business.
Sleep has become one of my most favourite and important things to do, so I am usually in bed by 10PM surrounded by smells of lavender and good book.
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
My whole motto in life is that you have to celebrate even the tiniest of achievements – even if that means something as simple as making it to the gym in the morning. But if I had to pick the thing I am most proud of I would say this exact moment. There was a time in my life where I didn’t even know how I could get through the day ahead, let alone get to a point where I am living a life and a career that I am obsessed with so this moment I would say is pretty epic and worth celebrating.
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
She has been the most incredible pillar of strength in my life and my best friend. She has also continued to encourage me to keep moving, never settle and strive for greatness, all while making time for the important things like family and having beautiful meals together.
What was your biggest failure?
Does eating all the sweats this past week while away on a course count? I am not a huge believer in the word failure. For me failures are about opportunities that are created for ourselves. And therefore I have been blessed with LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES that look like this. But, if I had to pick one out of all the ones I have had I would say not getting through a promotion cycle when I was trying to go for an early promotion a couple of years ago. And the reason I say that is because it was the catalyst to get me to stop and re-evaluate my career which resulted on getting me on the path I am now on.
What do you like most about yourself?
My ability to have no filter – I mean it may get me into trouble but at least it keeps me honest and authentic. I spent a lot of my younger years being very shy and timid and therefore not having a voice for myself. But as I have gotten older and come into my own, my confidence in my freedom of speech has been a key driver to helping me open up and get comfortable in my own skin.
As a complete side note, I am also obsessed with my eyelashes.
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
By losing the idea of judgment and this idea that things have to sound, look or feel a certain way. When we are able to just live freely and accept others for doing the same we allow our guards and stigma’s to fade.
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
Some of the big ones for me along this journey have been…
The ability to be curious and not put so much pressure on the outcomes of the things I am doing
Mindfulness – in whatever form it takes depending on the day (but to do it every day)
Discipline – sticking to the things I want and say I will do and holding myself accountable (I schedule everything in my life and my diary becomes that source of accountability on most days)
The ability to trust in the universe and the idea that everything that happens means something in the bigger picture (not always easy to do – especially when life doesn’t go to plan but I am turning this into a bit of a mantra)
Staying hungry (and I don’t mean in the context of food!!) – meaning always striving for more, realising that there is more to learn and continuing to fight for the vision I see
Self-Love – likely the one I have focused on most as of late, but this has been about understanding the power of slowing down, taking care of me, recharging and changing the voices in my head