Anasuya Banerjee is the Manager of Learning University- the culture and leadership development center of Pfizer, Inc. She is a leadership coach, mentor & talent performance consultant who has extensive experience in the field across organizations. She had also worked in the capacity of Chief Learning Officer & Director of a not-for-profit organization that aims as nurturing more responsible and conscious future global citizens in India.
She holds a B.Tech in Biotechnology Engineering and a subsequent Post Graduation in Human Resources Management from XLRI Jamshedpur. She intends to build a learning culture in organizations she is associated with, to empower and enhance effectiveness at each career level through behavioral nudges. Living by the values of ‘Integrity, Fairness and Transparency’, her sole purpose in life is to add value to people’s lives and make a difference. Today we got a chance to interview her, let’s know more about her & learn from her inspiring journey.
We hope this can inspire you to become a successful person too! It is worth listening to a successful entrepreneur or to people who share their success stories. We can significantly learn many things from the experiences of them, by listening to their story.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with her:
Q1) Tell us a little bit about your journey, please;
Sure, belonging to a family of conservative achievers from Calcutta, I was brought up with an understanding and expectation that mediocrity had no place in our household. Hailing from a family of doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists, and gold medalists, as a child I was always encouraged to look beyond the obvious, and strive towards surpassing my own boundaries.
I was often told the story of my ancestors who were zamindars of Burdwan, West Bengal, India. These stories of how my family through generations had contributed towards the betterment of society often against challenges and hardships that ensued their noble vision, helped mold my tender mind to possess the courage needed to make a difference.
Hence, I grew up to live by the virtue of integrity, the courage to speak-up where needed, and an inherent urge to help those around me. From a very young age, I had witnessed many family members succumb to terminal illnesses, and the do-gooder in me prompted me to pursue a B.Tech in Biotechnology Engineering, in the search of finding a breakthrough that changes patients’ lives. Due to a few personal challenges, in-spite of every effort, I could not take my interest in research and invention beyond my bachelor’s in biotechnology.
However, my innate urge to help people then prompted me to build a career as a Learning & Development professionals and coach, post an MBA in HR, from XLRI Jamshedpur. This journey which started more than a decade ago is definitely one that I thoroughly enjoy and find immensely fulfilling, each day.
Q2) What inspired you to take an interest in mentoring?
Like I was mentioning, all that I wanted to do during my school and college life was to find a cure for the terminally ill through stem cell therapy. When I couldn’t pursue the doctorate abroad that I received an invitation to, I moved my focus to helping individuals empower themselves and enhance their potential to become a better version of themselves, through people development initiatives.
My approach to making this happen had been through behavioral interventions and experiential learnings, across industries and organizations that I have worked for. As a Leader Development coach, I find each day at work, extremely energizing, backed by a team of equally enthusiastic L&D professionals at my workplace.
Q3) Tell me how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work.
The good old ‘Urgent & Important’ categorization of tasks, coupled with the outcome in focus and the impact that it will create for my stakeholders and the business.
Q4) Which leadership skills were the most difficult to develop?
In the Indian context, I would say the most difficult skill to instill in learners is the ‘nurturing of a growth mindset’. Of course one would see the transition when we deal with learners from metropolitan cities, with higher exposure. But for the majority of the population that India is, impacting those young minds to be more ‘conscious’, ‘responsible’, and ‘hungry to learn and grow when not forced to’, is something I see as a big concern.
Among the leadership, resilience and flexibility to adapt to change is another point that needs to change. It will help India to grow beyond who we are today.
Q5) Think back to five years ago. Did you envision your career as it is today?
Just five years ago? ..I would say ‘Yes’, may be with a little more international and cross-cultural experience.
Q6) How many hours a day do you work on average & can you describe/outline your typical day?
I usually work for around 10 hours a day. Of course, there are days when it extends beyond that, and a few comparatively lighter days at work, as well. Holding a managerial position, and possessing a forward-looking leadership vision, it is often difficult for me to accommodate and nurture thoughts around the strategic direction during the course of a busy day. I also end up designing a lot of behavioral learning content, which demand their own quiet time. Hence those couple of added hours, later in the evening.
Q7) Do you have any quick tips for re-energizing an overworked team?
I think the best re-energizer is one’s own thoughts. If the individual is driven enough, has visions and goals to achieve, nothing can really act as a barrier. Since most people lose focus on what they really want to do with their lives, I think, it is the responsibility of their manager to instill that motivation in them by encouraging their work and pushing them forward whenever needed.
Q8) What practices can you recommend for dealing with nervousness when speaking to groups?
Start by practicing speaking in front of a mirror. There are multiple VR/AR tools nowadays to simulate an auditorium full of audiences, which individuals can subscribe to. Also joining public speaking training forums like ‘Toastmasters’ helps to a good extent.
Q9) What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs??
Always have the courage to pursue what you aim for. There will be hurdles, there will be moments when you feel like giving up but remember, these are the very moments that make you stronger. Get up, dress up, and show up, always!
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