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Meet Shikha: A multiplier who is enabling others' potential

Shikha is the pathfinder and founder of the first-ever North American Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) mentorship program. Learn about her journey that led to creation of this transformational program.

Shikha Bajaj
Shikha Bajaj

 

You were instrumental in launching the mentorship pilot program as part of the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN). Please introduce the program, what it does, and who it targets.

Our current program is aimed at employees in career stages of Manager and above with the goal of retaining, advancing, and supporting our women leaders. We launched in August 2020 in select cities throughout North America and have seen the value of mentorship in bringing people together during this difficult year. In addition to the logistical support of managing 85 mentor/mentee relationships, we host monthly mentorship events in order to foster connections, networking, and learning amongst participants. In Q2 2021, we plan to expand this mentorship program to PS women leaders across North America!

 

What made you decide to launch the program?

As leaders, I believe that we are all responsible for growing and nurturing our people. I personally am passionate about mentoring others and helping them to realize their own potential, especially women leaders.

In 2019, I participated in the first-ever Fellowship in Transformational Leadership (FiTL), a global PS executive leadership program that consciously selected equitable gender percentages for its cohort. The fellowship follows the rigor of an executive MBA-style program to enable participants to become Digital Business Transformation (DBT) leaders. Our diverse cohort aligned on the need to scale diversity and promote women leadership beyond the FiTL program. Soon after our year-long program ended, COVID-19 hit which escalated the need even further. I knew from my first-hand experience that our women leaders needed support and mentorship to tide over these tough times, now more than ever. I chose to see the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to be the pathfinder and created a vision for the program.

 

"We seek to tap into collective wisdom, experience, and insights of high performing leaders by getting active commitment and support from senior women leaders and male allies."

 

What was your vision for this program?

My vision was to create a mentorship program that can support women leaders with the goal of retaining, advancing, and supporting them. We seek to tap into the collective wisdom, experience, and insights of high-performing women leaders and male allies by getting their commitment and support. We all need allies and there is an ever-increasing need to leverage their perspectives and experience.

 

How did you translate your vision to execute a successful pilot program?

After researching the impact of mentorship programs for employees and their organization, I reached out to our leaders (Alyssa Altman, Geraldine White, Lou-Ann Paton, Denise Antinori, Kate Turner and Laurie Jadick) to share my vision for the program. They were fully supportive and applauded my passion to pioneer this pilot program for North America. And the rest, as people say, is history.

We aligned on the target population (our managers and above) for a select number of cities (prioritizing those with the highest employee headcount) with plans to test and learn from tangible feedback early on. I then assembled a core team of passionate individuals from those select cities to rally around my vision as we formed a core execution committee. We worked to design this program from scratch – including applications, surveys, and thoughtfully designed content and events. The pilot has been hugely successful with 82% of participants sharing that it was the best thing that happened to them during COVID-19, and vocalizing how much their mentor/mentee relationship is helping them to navigate these tough times. Given the impact, we have decided to extend this program for existing participants and actively working to expand the offering across all women leaders and male allies in North America.

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What are your hopes for the future of this program?

I hope that by expanding our program audience, we will continue our progress towards making PS the best place to work for women leaders. I am a big proponent of diversity and mentorship. My hope is that this program will create a multiplier-effect wherein others start paying it forward. This “movement” will help promote diverse leadership at Publicis Sapient which will have a long-lasting impact on our success as an organization. I also hope this demonstrates to senior women job seekers how PS leadership is committed to women in leadership and will look to join our company and this mentorship program to enable their potential and others.

Learn more about the importance of women’s mentorship programs here.

Shikha Bajaj
Shikha Bajaj
Senior Director, Agile Program Management
Shikha takes pride in being a change agent and a leader who creates multipliers. She believes that gratitude is the best attitude. Outside of work, you can find her volunteering for boy scouts, school and community fundraisers. She loves spending time with her family and enjoys outdoors hiking, biking, kayaking and skydiving.

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