Sonali Gera –  Internationally Certified Coach and a Global HR practitioner

Sonali Gera –  Internationally Certified Coach and a Global HR practitioner

Sonali Gera - GMI Facilitator

Achieving a state of mindfulness is possibly one of the most revered skills that a great manager can possess. It helps not only perceive one’s life, but also workspace oriented scenarios with clarity and the intent to deliver. 

Sonali has always had “living to life’s fullest” as a motivating factor in her life. Being an outdoorsy person, her biggest source of inspiration is traveling. Experiencing different countries, cuisines, cultures and lifestyles enables a journey of self exploration and reflection. Admittedly, she also loves immersing herself in a variety of sports, especially yoga and swimming.

Sonali graduated from Lady Shri Ram college in Delhi, with an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune. This further gave leeway to her HR career, wherein she worked with some of the biggest global companies such as Mercedes,  EXL Service, Patni Computers and Tata Motors over an expanse of 15 years. 

Being an Internationally Certified Coach and a Global HR practitioner, Sonali works as a leadership facilitator with clients in over 70 countries across the globe. She also runs a consulting practise in the field of Coaching, Training, POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at workplace), Diversity and Inclusion. She specializes in Trauma Informed Coaching and integrates several modalities like Somatic Experiencing,  NVC,mindfulness, Yoga,  Social Presencing Theater in her work. 

Sonali also works with multiple women leaders and coaches from organizations to put into context what feminine leadership brings to the table and how diversity inclusion at workplaces is significant for companies. 

Through self realization and discovery, one can in turn also help others discover themselves. Being in touch with our inner self and knowing how to tap into our potential, is a tool that helps overcome life’s trials and tribunals. It also helps appreciate others who assist or guide us in this journey called life. Sonali continues to inspire and encourage a multitude of people with her positive can do attitude in life. 

“When we become people- leaders, overnight we are expected to develop new skills. CDI gives a simple mantra to become an effective people manager- connect with your team regularly, invest in their growth and appreciate and motivate them often. CDI not only gives what to do but also how to do it.” 

Everything at Great Manager Institute ®  is done keeping the ‘people manager’ at the center. It’s all about impacting lives one leader at a time, and that has been one of my biggest takeaways while working at GMI. According to her, being a great people manager is not rocket science but is about understanding basic human needs at work. It is the need to build connections, the need to feel valued and the need to grow.

When asked about why she loves working with Great Manager Institute®, she says “I love working with GMI because of its youthful vibrant culture. I learn so much from other facilitators and the GMI team.”

In Talks with Gagan Arora – Top 100 Great People Managers in India

In Talks with Gagan Arora – Top 100 Great People Managers in India

3rd time lucky?

Why would an entrepreneur who failed twice start again? If you are an entrepreneur, you know the answer! There are no failures for an entrepreneur, only learning.

“I was trying to do what everyone else is doing, there was no differentiation,” says Gagan.

Gagan Arora, Founder and CEO at Vertex Group, started his career as a telephone sales executive in the operations department of a BPO. In 2015, he took a leap of faith to start a BPO of his own. His first venture failed. He started one more. It didn’t succeed either.

Fast Forward. Vertex today has more than 4000 employees in over 7 countries. It is a “one-stop-shop” for businesses and offers services ranging from brand launch, staffing, call centre, outbound sales, automation and smart IVRs.

“If you have a business model, people leadership is the single biggest factor to your success,” says Gagan.

Big words?

Think again. Which other BPM/technology services company has post-COVID attrition rates in the single digit? Despite hiring 1500 new employees in the last three months, Vertex Group has been able to keep attrition remarkably low in the single digit.

Gagan talks passionately about some of his lessons as a people manager:

People work for reputation more than rewards and punishment:

“Reputation drives people more than rewards and punishment,” says Gagan as he implements this insight into recognition and reinforcement programs at Vertex.

A people manager is like a good chef:

“Over a period of time, you know who among your clients like which dish and in what way,” says Gagan referring to the colleagues of the people manager. ““You are not a people manager if you do not know the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for your people.”” But doesn’t this take a lot of time? Not according to Gagan. This is a continuous process, formal and informal. Even a three-minute interaction is good enough to know if your colleague is happy with the dish you have cooked for them.

Tips for people managers:

Gagan has three simple tips to share – listen (communicate), act, and recognise and reinforce. Some managers may have doubts if people will be “spoiled” by too much recognition. According to Gagan, there is no such thing as too much recognition, if what is required to be achieved for the next career goal is known. “Recognise every small achievement and right behaviours, reward for achievement of pre-set goals,” says Gagan.

Before you try to manage others, manage yourself:

Ten years ago, Gagan was clinically obese weighing over 100 kg. Today, he is one of the fittest people spending an hour exercising each day. His secret? A little pocket-book! Gagan meticulously notes down everything he did during the day and his key learning from each interaction. And attempts to do slightly better the next day. “The competition for you as a leader is never someone else, it is you! A Great People Manager is not an award or a destination, it is a beautiful journey.”

We, at Great Manager Institute®, are proud to recognise Gagan Arora as one of the Top 100 Great People Managers.

Gagan gives credit to one of his first managers who inspired him to strive to be a good people manager. Would you like to share your stories of managers who could connect, develop, and inspire you?

About the Author:

Prasenjit Bhattacharya is the Co-Founder and CEO of Great Manager Institute®, and Founder Director of Great Place to Work® India. Views are personal.

Vrinda Shinkre – OD Consultant and Coach

Vrinda Shinkre – OD Consultant and Coach

Vrinda Shinkre

The Great Manager Institute ® is thrilled to share the story of Vrinda Shinkre. With her certification from  Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder centered Coaching and the GROW model by Carlton advanced management research, she is a trainer for our Great Manager Certification Program. She has a master’s Degree in economics, a diploma in hospitality and a PG Diploma in Human Resource Management. 

Growing up in multiple places meant meeting new people. It allowed her to experience new cities and acquaint herself with semi-urban India. As a result, she now enjoys working with various professionals across industries today. She finds it easy to see and think from other people’s points of view. Her professional journey was not what she visualised however, she is very happy to have discovered this path and with all she has achieved over the past 25 years.

 This change came about while she was working with an international educational institution.  she began training students in soft skills. It was so enjoyable to see them transform into confident and responsible professionals that it inspired her to train people in behavioural /leadership skills in the corporate world. She moved to Bangalore to explore opportunities in the same sector and since a lot of managers and women leaders started asking for advice post her session, she was encouraged to take up coaching. 

Today, Vrinda works passionately to make a difference to individuals, teams and organisations by working on their attitude, behaviour and role-specific skills. As an Independent consultant, she works with multiple international Training organisations and well-known companies across industries and geographies in the field of Coaching, Leadership Development and behavioural skills. She has also managed strong teams of trainers and sales managers across locations. Having worked with Training and Development as well as sales she has insight into the developmental needs of multiple industries across levels. 

She brings to the table a passion for results and a systematic approach to learning at all levels. Her abilities to talk to a diverse audience, ask the right questions and counselling help her understand needs and get a buy-in from the business. The industries she has worked with are IT, ITES, Banking and Finance, Engineering and Manufacturing, Aviation, Hospitality and others.

She believes in overcoming challenges by changing her perspective, and by looking at them as opportunities to become better and stronger, instead of looking at them as an obstacle or a burden. Besides being an excellent coach and being a pro in her professional life, she has struck an amazing balance by raising two young and confident daughters to be good human beings first and of course, determined professionals. Taking care of family, work and hobbies is a challenge sometimes but working with good people has helped her overcome those and lead a wholesome life.

Why does Vrinday enjoy working at Great Manager Institute®?

Vrinda says “I am very happy to work with GMI. First it’s a place where organizational change or improvement is taken very seriously. I  love the methodology. Also, it’s a place where I can freely express myself in meetings and other conversations. I feel valued and cared for. I also like the way GMI involves us in ideation and content building.”

Snehal Ponde: Life and Career Coach, HR Professional and Trainer

Snehal Ponde: Life and Career Coach, HR Professional and Trainer

Snehal Ponde

Ambrose Redmoon once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

Great leadership comes first and foremost from great courage. Even in the most dismal turn of events that life throws at people, standing strong and weathering in the storm is what defines them as leaders.

When Snehal was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, she was facing perhaps one of the most dreaded situations a person could ever be in. What followed were days of perseverance and determination that tested her physical and emotional strength. However, bravery and an iron will is always rewarded by success. 

Snehal is from Singapore and is a mother to a beautiful 18-month-old. It is safe to say that she’s rocking  motherhood and being a trainer at GMI ® among her other professional commitments. Snehal is an engineer by profession with an MBA in HR. She has also been active in other areas like real estate, communications, NBFC and consulting. With over 13 years of corporate experience, she has worked with multiple leadership teams and managers to create robust talent strategies. After completing her Coaching certification (ACC-ICF) and  NLP (Neuroleadership Programming) certification, Snehal began working with family members or people diagnosed with critical illnesses. She is  an active breast cancer awareness advocate in Singapore and India. 

In 2020, Snehal’s life changed after being diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a new low, one which  could destory all her dreams. It brought fear, dependency and hopelessness about her future. However,  she took this as an oppurtunity to build herself up and come out of it as a much stronger person. It transformed for her the meaning of living itself. She rebuilt her life, put herself out there and took control of her life.

Snehal now works to spread awareness about breast cancer, interacts with people and is a guiding light to those going through a similar situation. She has made it her life’s mission to let many know that they are not alone, and with the right support system and attitude they can overcome  the toughest of situations. 

She is a source of inspiration to many through her work, go-getter attitude and self belief. Along with being a forward and intrepid leader, she also focuses on what new she can bring to the table and learn herself. 

Sacrificing what one loves in the  face of fear only delays the many wonderful experiences that await them. Snehal’s story is one that reflects on how a strong resolve allows people to have a more positive perspective and give them hope to overcome their trials. 

“Coaching excites me. It has given me a goal and a purpose. I love to help people get clarity about their lives,” says Snehal, who coaches individuals on career changes, transitions or personal growth. “I coach during the weeks, when the side effects of chemotherapy have subsided. I never feel tired when I coach. It energises me.”

Everything at Great Manager Institute ®  is done keeping the ‘people manager’ at the centre. It’s all about impacting lives one leader at a time, and that has been one of my biggest takeaways while working at GMI. She feels  that being a great people manager is not rocket science but is all about understanding some basic human needs at work? The need to build connections, the need to feel valued and the need to grow.

Dr Deepika Dabke – Academician, Consulting Psychologist and Trainer

Dr Deepika Dabke – Academician, Consulting Psychologist and Trainer

Deepika Dabke

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Organisational Behavior Studies,learning and development enthusiast, diversity and inclusion expert and corporate trainer who also  the designed the initiative  that enable people like an Electric Distribution company that won the ASTD awards, authoring and presented award-winning papers at national and international conferences,  and a huge influence on young minds, having Dr Deepika Dabke at Great Manager Institute ® as a trainer is another feather in our cap. As a seasoned trainer , she has created excellent designs and has implemented behavioural training programmes that focus on improving employee performance, work quality and team productivity. She has introduced practices which encourage open and clear communication and has developed excellent leadership styles and management abilities. 

Dr Dabke describes herself as an introspective person not very talkative, but curious and is an easy person to talk to. She enjoys learning new things and analysing them, it’s a major part of who she is. Engaging with people and contributing to their well-being coupled with her reliable and trustworthy characteristics is what makes her such a great trainer. If you ask her to describe her professional journey in one word, she would use the word “serendipity”. She studied to be a Psychologist and started her career as a therapist. She is drawn to the field of Learning and Development and considers herself fortunate to be able to take up independent work across various industries at an early age.

Getting her doctorate has been one of her greatest dreams and her proudest moment, especially because she resumed studying after a break of 10 years with a daughter and family to care for.  Her area of research was Emotional Intelligence and Leadership, she sought to enrich her understanding of the role of Leadership in Organisational Effectiveness. Dr Dabke is also passionate about Diversity Equity and Inclusion. Dr Dabke completed a certification in the area to enhance her understanding of the subject. 

Her take on CDI i.e Connect-Develop-Inspire is the perfect recipe for engaging and energising your teams. Connect is about knowing your team members beyond work and is a great tool for creating Psychological safety to help people bring all to work. Development is about valuing teams by believing in their ability to grow and nurturing their potential to the fullest. Inspiration is about creating a sense of ownership and belongingness. It is about creating a culture of gratitude and appreciation and acknowledging the goodness of each and every team member. 

She has also completed her Coaching certification and is looking forward to partnering with leaders and helping them achieve their goals.

Rajagopalan Sreekumar – A Storyteller and Listener

Rajagopalan Sreekumar – A Storyteller and Listener

Rajagopalan Sreekumar

Rajagopalan Sreekumar is one of the trainers at GMI’s Great Manager Certification Program. He started conducting training sessions in the year 2000 and has certifications from renowned organisations such as Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, NLP Masters and Enneagram Master Coach from the Makani Academy and has been awarded the Leadership in Holistic Transformation award by the International Coach and Trainers Association in 2019. He was also shortlisted for the Swami Vivekananda National Best Trainer Award by the ISTD in 2010. While working with us he has received excellent feedback from our clients, ranging from 4.6 – 5/5. He is grounded, curious, fatalistic, experimental and community oriented. His way of working is slightly unconventional but he enjoys learning new things and experimenting and blending different approaches. He uses the best of eastern, western, ancient and modern practices.

He has a bachelor’s degree in science and a first-class master’s degree in law from Delhi University and has completed an in-person specialist course in human rights from the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, England. His career is dynamic; the paths he took ranged from working for human rights, prison reform and restorative justice to working for the Chief Justice of India and the National Judicial Academy of India, financial services, entrepreneurial, university teaching, and helping with alcohol de-addiction and corporate training sectors.

His clients call him a story vault, as he continuously picks up and curates stories. His interest in movies sometimes leads to sessions like movies with moments of laughter, tears and moments of quiet profoundness. Creatively inclined since childhood, he enjoys making customised gifts and studying advertisements and branding. He’s an explorer, trekking, spending quiet time in nature and meditating regularly. He conducts a listening practice called ‘Listening Hearts’ and also practises a daily spiritual practice which is a blend of messages from Kabir, Rumi, a quote by Sam Keen and a Swedish proverb. He loves to find reasons to laugh and share a good laugh with others. He believes in spreading laughter as one of his life missions. He hopes to one day practise his version of medical clowning in the geriatric and paediatric wards of hospitals and hospices.

Rajagopalan Sreekumar has co-authored a book and wrote another book on prisons which got re-printed in Hindi and Telugu. The National Human Rights Commission ordered 50 copies of the book at the time of the first print run to include it as a takeaway gift for visiting delegations. He is in the process of writing his third book now.

Through his prison reform initiatives, he won the trust of the otherwise closed-off and cynical prison staff and was invited to conduct training sessions in prisons. The final highlight for him was when he got the corporate manager-participants to call their team members and appreciate them for at least one of the behaviours they had voluntarily demonstrated from a list of behaviours the managers wanted to see. That had a profound impact on the frayed relationship that many managers had with their team members.

Learning from GMI’s experience

We have great people managers around us; we just need to bring out their stories during the GMI workshops and connect the participants to the latent greatness in them, as well as connect them to the role model managers that are already around us and them. He also defines our framework as ‘The power of Connection before Correction and Inspiration.