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Career Launcher's president on the power of daily reflection in the office

Sujatha Kshirsagar speaks about why she sets realistic goals every morning

Sujatha Kshirsagar of Career Launcher.

By Shail Desai

LAST PUBLISHED 19.02.2024  |  01:00 PM IST

After close to two decades in banking, Sujatha Kshirsagar decided to chase a lifelong passion in edtech. She had always realised the power of education, and how it could be a catalyst for personal and societal development “It felt like a natural progression, which aligned my skills and commitment to contribute to the transformative power of technology in education, aiming to enhance learning experiences. This was more than just a career change," recalls Kshirsagar, 51, President and Chief Business Officer at Career Launcher, who prepare students for competitive examinations through over 200 learning centres across India.

Since her days as a student of finance and marketing at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, she has noticed significant changes in the Indian curriculum. It has become more engaging and application oriented, and integrates real world examples to prepare students better. One of the massive shifts is the increase in demand for digital skills and the rise of non-conventional, niche courses that cater to emerging industries.

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“The flexibility in learning provided by EdTech companies is enabling students to access study material anytime and from anywhere. Likewise, artificial influence algorithms are revamping how they learn and are making education personal. There is a growing emphasis on experiential learning that is enabling students to gain hands-on experience and also contributing to their overall readiness for the professional world," she says.

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One of the key focus areas at Career Launcher has been their drive to democratise quality education through collaborations with various state governments across India. They have also consciously addressed the mental health of students who are preparing for competitive exams.

“We follow a holistic preparation journey, offering not just academic support but also counselling sessions, mindfulness exercises and stress management techniques. This helps students openly communicate and handle exam-related stress effectively," she says.

Kshirsagar talks to Lounge about the importance of setting realistic goals at the start of each day.

Who do you consider your mentor?

From my early years in dance and pottery to academic guidance and corporate mentorship, each mentor contributed a unique perspective, fostering creativity, resilience and a multifaceted leadership approach. My mother, an enduring source of inspiration, shaped my values and work ethic with unwavering support and wisdom. In the professional realm, incredible bosses provided valuable insights, challenging me to think strategically and navigate leadership complexities. Simultaneously, my soulmate has been a vital sounding board, offering unique perspectives and unwavering belief in my capabilities, propelling me to new heights.

One major insight you worked on with your mentor’s guidance?

A significant insight that has resonated with me is the understanding that fortune often emerges when opportunity aligns with dedicated efforts. This realisation has reinforced my belief in proactively striving for excellence, as success is not solely about waiting for opportunities but actively working towards creating the opportune moments through persistent and purposeful efforts.

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What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?

Being a mentor is like being the wind beneath someone’s wings - guiding, inspiring and encouraging them to explore on their own. At work, it involves a mix of challenging tasks and providing space for growth. It’s about pushing colleagues to excel, to go beyond limits and breach boundaries in their professional journey.

What’s your morning schedule like?

I dive into a dynamic mix of personal and professional tasks. Taking charge of household matters, I swiftly move on to emails and reports, staying on top of the day’s agenda. Prioritising my well-being, I incorporate a vigorous workout to fuel both body and mind. A refreshing cup of tea marks the transition into the day's activities. Ensuring my kiddo is set for school is a crucial part of my morning. This balanced routine sets the tone for the day.

What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have made your professional and personal life much easier?

First and foremost, effective time management is key. Prioritising tasks, setting realistic goals and maintaining a structured schedule have significantly enhanced my efficiency. Embracing technology to streamline processes and staying organised with digital tools has also played a pivotal role. Regular breaks and moments of mindfulness contribute to sustained focus and creativity, fostering a healthy work-life balance. Open communication and collaboration are non-negotiable. Encouraging a supportive team environment and being receptive to feedback not only boosts productivity but also enhances overall satisfaction. Lastly, the power of continuous learning cannot be overstated. Staying curious, seeking growth opportunities and adapting to new challenges ensures a dynamic and thriving professional and personal life.

What’s the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?

One positive work routine I’ve diligently embraced is the practice of daily strategic reflection. Taking a few moments each morning to assess priorities, set achievable goals and adapt to any unforeseen challenges has been instrumental. This routine not only provides a clear roadmap for the day but also fosters adaptability, resilience and a focused leadership approach in navigating the uncertainties of the business landscape.

Any book or podcast you would recommend about mentorship and growth?

I recommend Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, offering valuable insights into the dynamics of women in leadership. Additionally, Dare to Lead by Brené Brown explores the power of vulnerability in leadership, providing practical wisdom for mentor-mentee relationships. For podcasts, How I Built This by NPR features captivating interviews with entrepreneurs and leaders, sharing inspiring stories on professional growth. For more personalised mentorship experiences, MentorMe podcast offers industry leaders’ insights, guiding listeners through practical advice for navigating their own paths of development.

How do you unwind? Do you pursue any serious hobbies?

Unwinding for me is an artful blend of serenity and passion. Pottery is my therapeutic escape; molding clay is akin to meditation, offering a tranquil space for creative expression. I find solace in the world of music, particularly immersing myself in ghazals, humming along to their melodies and occasionally losing myself in the rhythm. Reading and listening to Urdu poetry is another cherished pastime, offering a profound connection to language and emotion. An occasional round of golf injects a dose of adventure and sport into my routine, while an annual trek provides a rejuvenating communion with nature, a cherished tradition that both challenges and revitalises me.

Monday Motivation is a series in which business leaders and creative individuals discuss their mentors and their work ethics.

Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.

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