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The Pragati Leadership Inspiring & Successful Leadership Awards 2022 were instituted to recognize today’s leaders whose actions are in tandem with the principles of  Purpose, People, Planet, and Profit, which comprise the four pillars of ‘ Wholesome Leadership’.  For the last three decades, Pragati Leadership has been involved in designing and delivering inspirational leadership training that seeks to ameliorate strategic thinking and promote inspiring leadership.

The winners from the IT industry for this year’s awards were chosen by renowned personalities like Dr. Ganesh Natarajan (Chairman of 5F World, Honeywell Automation India Ltd. & Lighthouse Communities), Dr. Shikha Jain (Director of IMDR), Tarun Sharma (Founder of Yodda, Former CEO at BMC Software India, Board Member of Global Logic India), and Vibhas Joshi (Coach, Author, Facilitator, and Former Board Member at SAS Research & Development, India).

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Ms. Vaishali Raj (Head HR at Godrej Infotech Ltd) was felicitated for her exceptional contribution to the corporate HR ecosystem. Deeply honoured by this recognition of her efforts, she expressed her gratitude to Pragati Leadership, the jury, and her team members. Referring to the pre-Covid and post-Covid periods, she pointed out that the lessons learnt during the pandemic should not be squandered away. Under stress, leaders were forced to adjust and change their way of thinking, so one must not lose sight of the skills so developed.

She went on to elaborate on three leadership skills that she believes leaders should integrate into themselves. These skills are agility, data-driven decision-making, and empathy. She agreed with Mr. Nitin Deshpande’s words that there can be no substitute for empathy which is imparted straight from the heart. Touching upon the learnings from the Covid pandemic, Ms. Raj reiterated that leaders were forced to change their thought processes and to acclimatize quickly. And those who didn’t do it, crumbled. Rules changed, rates changed, boundaries were shut down and we lost access. Those who refused to adjust or think quickly were left behind. Integrating agility into one’s leadership style is what inspirational leaders of today need to do.

Secondly, data-driven decision-making may not have been important in the past but in today’s world with so much data available, our decisions based on data can be both informed and impactful. She accepted that as an HR person, she too shied away from numbers in the past as they reflect facts that may not always be desirable. To be more data-driven, she recommended that leaders pay attention to three factors; technology, people, and process. Companies that started on the path to digital transformation felt it would take years for the process but completed it in a matter of weeks. The best business plans fall into place when there is a perfect combination of these three factors. As leaders, we need to show concern; if we exhibit compassion and consideration, people will feel wanted and taken care of. Having a sense of belonging makes people feel safe and secure. This leads to collaboration among team members, irrespective of their age, experience, background, and gender. She emphasized the significance of empathy as leadership and motivation go hand-in-hand.

She is a great believer in ‘servant leadership’ and gave the example of Mother Teresa, who championed it through her conduct and showed the world that a lot can be achieved through compassion versus coercion.

Having worked with Godrej Infotech Ltd throughout her career, she understands its value system and has imbibed it so well that she completely identifies with it. In her experience she found that when leadership exhibited agility, took data-driven decisions, and expressed empathy, people were ready to take risks, to experiment with new ideas, thereby driving innovation.  She opined that if a leader encourages innovation, his team, his people, and his organization will move forward.

Ms. Raj is one of India’s most inspiring female leaders in business and considers the HR function to be a strategic business partner. She strongly believes in involving teams in the decision-making process and investing in their growth and learning. She joined the Godrej Group as a Management Trainee, then managed Industrial Relations and Human Resources for the Precision Equipment Division of Godrej & Boyce. Thanks to her tenacious and focused approach, she soon became the Head of Recruitment and then Head of HRD for Godrej Infotech. Today, she drives strategy, forecasts the HR roadmap, and implements operational priorities in adherence to organizational needs.

She is an influential and collaborative leader who manages several stakeholders and fosters innovation at work. We are sure that her motivational leadership style is a great inspiration for her team.