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Once a Transformer, Always a Transformer

Shikha shares how her participation in our executive leadership program kick-started her journey of ‘unlearning’ and transforming.

Shikha Bajaj
Shikha Bajaj

What is the Fellowship in Transformation Leadership (FiTL) Program and why was it created?

The Fellowship in Transformation Leadership is an executive MBA-caliber program, ideated and incubated by senior leaders of Publicis Sapient. The program equips our Nextgen leaders to steward clients through the Digital Business Transformation lifecycle.

 

Why, in your mind, is it called Fellowship in Transformation leadership?

To me, this was far more than an eMBA program. I daresay, this has been the best learning and growth experience for me in my 10+ years at Publicis Sapient. Let me break it down for you:

  • Fellowship – It helped foster relationships, based on mutual respect and friendship with some of our best senior leaders in the as cohort as well as stewards who formed the program committee, faculty, coaches and professors.

  • Transformation – It enabled a journey of mindset and behavioral change at an individual level. This was facilitated with a curriculum that was the best of contemporary thinking, administered by word-class leaders, and emphasized on experiential practice and real-life application.

  • Leadership – The challenges faced by today’s businesses require transformational leadership. This program guided leaders on how to navigate the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, and influence clients and teams to partner in a journey to shape and create the future.

 

Tell us a little bit about the selection process for this program?

It was a tough, Ivy league type of selection process that included a comprehensive application, video submission, references from colleagues, industry lead and clients. Once shortlisted, a deeper-dive applicant interview and client 1:1 interview were conducted by the program committee.

This program made me realize that “First step in transformation is self”. Nothing happens without personal transformation and that if you want to change the world, first change yourself.

What was unique about the transformational program?

This was a program like none other for a variety of reasons.

  1. Publicis Sapient sought to create an inclusive and diverse cohort by selecting leaders across capability, industry, geography and gender. The company demonstrated their commitment to gender diversity by ensuring that 50% of the chosen cohort was women leaders for the first time ever in P.S history.

  2. Enlisted many Subject matter experts who delivered the programming included PS leaders who had delivered transformational outcomes for our clients, experts from world’s top business schools and renowned training providers in the fields of transformation and presentation.

  3. Organized Four in-person “intensive” workshops that took place in different Publicis Sapient offices around the world to facilitate networking with leaders across Publicis Sapient.

  4. The curriculum stretched each member of the cohort outside of their comfort zone. It was intense, comprehensive and varied – Yoga, Raspberry Pi programming and Company-valuation were some of the modules of note.

 

Tell us about your experience from the program?

This program made me realize that “First step in transformation is self”. Nothing happens without personal transformation and that if you want to change the world, first change yourself. I committed to personal transformation (my whole self – mind, body and soul) all year through and have continued on this journey ever since. As I look back on what I have achieved post-FiTL, there is a LOT to be proud of and I owe it to this amazing program. Let me share a few of my accomplishments:

  1. I learnt the art of introspection and deep reflection, which has helped me connect with my true self, values and purpose.

  2. Helped me realize that I get joy in “giving” and “growing others” and hence conceptualized and launched our first-ever “North America Mentorship Program for Women Leaders” that has been helping support women leaders and their transformation.

  3. I lost 55 pounds and have, now, kept that off for 6+ months and have a new-found appreciation for eating and staying healthy. My personal physical transformation has also inspired many friends and family.

  4. I took on a role in a completely new domain with an extremely challenging client and was able to change that sceptic to a fanatical advocate of P.S that has enabled transformation of the client, their customers and, also, resulted in growth for PS and our people.

 

What are your key takeaways from the program?

  1. “Transformation is more about unlearning than learning”. It is important to unlearn old limits and change our mindset.

  2. “Go with the flow”. Trust and enjoy the process, embrace uncertainty and you will figure it out. Afterall, transformation has no set recipe.

  3. “Unlearn, Learn and Re-learn”. Learning is a never-ending journey and you are never too old to learn.

  4. Last but not the least, we all have a gift to give. It is important to focus on our unique strengths (our gifts) a LOT more than our deltas to make this world a better place.

 

Any last words as we wrap up?

Napoleon rightly said: “Our only limitations are the ones we set in our own minds”. I am proud to be a Transformer who loves being a change agent for clients and teams, and a Multiplier who derives joy by mentoring and coaching others. I am enjoying this journey of lifelong learning and transforming myself as well as the world around me for better. I owe my transformation to the brilliant leadership of the FiTL Committee (Sheldon Monterio, Alyssa Altman, Magnus Fitchett, Eddie Gleeson, Scott Petry, Laura Sawyer) who worked as hard (if not harder) than each of us in the cohort and my amazing cohort.

Words might fall short in expressing my deepest gratitude, but I’ll end with….. “Thank you! Cheers to the journey ahead. The best is yet to be!”

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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