With 17+ years of experience in delivering language instruction and developing courseware in English and Mandarin, Poonam Dadlani (EMBA 2014), is an English language trainer and an entrepreneur in the education sector. She is also an active investor and loves to indulge in volunteering activities. Currently, she works as a corporate coach and trainer-team leader at a German MNC.
Poonam is presently the President of the Singapore Alumni Chapter at SP Jain Global, where she previously held other prestigious roles such as Head of Communications and Vice-President. She enjoys collaboration, bringing people together over fulfilling activities and is fascinated by how each person learns in unique ways.
We caught up with Poonam over a quick interview to learn more about her incredible entrepreneurial journey.
Q. You have 17+ years of experience and are currently a coach and team leader. Did you face any gender bias as you went up the hierarchy in the workplace? If yes, how did you fight the prejudice and come up on top?
Biases are inherent and something that we are all constantly fighting against. Indeed, even you and I have it — we all have it! It’s the nature of human beings to be tribal and seek out safety in groups. The problem is when the group becomes powerful and seeks to keep a monopoly on power and privilege to the extent that it becomes detrimental to society’s growth, development, and evolution.
Of course, as a woman, especially a woman from a minority community, it is a struggle to even stand in one place. Bias is something that cuts across race, gender, and economic class.
There is no point fighting the bias because this is a constant work in progress, and my approach is to connect with people and groups from whom I can find allies. Sometimes I am the one at the receiving end of someone standing in solidarity with me, and sometimes it is the other way around, with me standing for someone less privileged than me.
Q. What are some of the noteworthy takeaways from these experiences?
Life is a constant hustle, and the sooner we get used to changing and the fact that nothing and no situation – no matter how good or bad – is permanent, the more comfortable reality is.
Q. What management style do you adopt when working with your team?
I start by getting to know my team. I believe in ‘no agenda’ agenda meetings to come together as human beings (good food often helps here). We relax and are at ease by just ‘being’ in each other’s presence, crack a few jokes and laugh together, and also listen to each other. There isn’t a term to describe this, but this is essential.
Next comes defining our collective values, and finally, the activities that fulfil these collective values.
Q. What advice do you have for women looking to become entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs? Seek out a mentor for knowledge and skills. Sponsors will be willing to put your name forward when suitable opportunities arise. Please pay it forward by lifting others with you too. Keep learning constantly, but at the same time, also hone your gut instincts which will become more accurate over time.
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