In our pursuit to assist the youth to make the Right Academic/Career Choices, we have interviewed several successful individuals.
This interview is with Sonali Damle – Management Consultant, Director Bain Capability Center.
Sonali has an MBA in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School; Master of Science from Washington University, Bachelor of Architecture from Pune.
She is highly qualified with a rich and varied experience in the industry in the US and India.
Straddling between Strategic thinking and Detail orientation, Thinking out of the box, Strong Goal Orientation and Vision have been key to her success.
Sonali studied Architecture up to the Master’s degree and practiced the profession before choosing to move to Business and then to Business Administration.
We believe that this interview will be insightful, motivating and will give direction to people who are trying to make Career Choices or switch to a different career!
Read on to find what she has to share about her earlier and current profession….
CB5: Please share some detail about your current professional activities. What do you do?
Sonali: I have over 15 years’ experience in the offshoring industry as a consultant focused on banking process offshoring; an entrepreneur through a start-up in New York in the data and information mapping space and most recently as a business leader with Bain.
Currently, as Director, Bain Capability Center, I am responsible for spearheading “Centers of Expertise” that could augment the standard consulting lifecycle. As part of this role, I have the overall responsibility for the Bain Capability Center (BCC) which is based in India.
CB5: Your formal education and your professional career have different tracks…How did you decide on the line for the formal education? What made you select this line of study?
Sonali: When I was in my XI standard we were visiting our family friend who was a “Brick and Mortar” Architect. I was impressed and inspired by the potential to build “castles” as a young girl and so decided to become a student of Architecture in Pune where I graduated summa cum laude and went on to pursue a Masters Degree in the US.
Thereafter, I got an opportunity to work at the National University of Singapore and soon realized that it was really the virtual world that interested me more. I moved back to the US and set up my own business in Computer Graphics in the US. In the late 90s developing intelligence systems for construction was unique. It was new and fascinating. It was also intellectually rewarding due to the unique combination of Design and Math in ways that engaged both the right and left brain.
My husband and I ran the business for 3 years and realized that a Formal Business Education and Network was necessary to scale a business. I decided to go back to school for an MBA at the Wharton Business School.
CB5: When and How did you get into your current area of work? What were/are your motivators? What made you change your career path as defined by your formal education?
Sonali: The move from Architecture was part circumstance and part a realization of a keen interest in understanding business. In 1999, I co-founded Intercorp Inc. in New York. This was a great opportunity to combine my education and interest. The company was primarily focused on geospatial mapping of the survey and aerial photography data to inform construction at major infrastructure hubs such as ports.
I exited the company with a sale to an engineering firm to get an MBA and broaden my business skills.
Consulting came as a natural next step, as it is a field that exposes you to work in the most nebulous questions for a business and has fast track learning and exposure across many different industries. This exposure also comes with great responsibility and impact. A consultant’s advice can influence the direction that companies take and can have a long-lasting impact on the overall business and industry. That is both, highly energizing as well as challenging. The variety of experience across industries, geographies, and capabilities develops acute business acumen. It attracts the smartest minds who have the ability to synthesize multi-dimensional issues through intellectual curiosity, analytical rigor, creativity, and practicality. Working with such people is rewarding on many levels.
CB5: What do you enjoy most about your current profession?
Sonali: People: Motivated, hardworking and smart colleagues with a passion for solving problems and an amazing ‘can do attitude’ .. what more could one ask for. You are challenged everyday to be a better version of yourself!
Opportunity to innovate, be entrepreneurial and create broad and lasting influence in the consulting industry based on understanding a deep customer need and solving for it
Intellectual fulfillment: cracking diverse set of questions, exposure to different industries, analytical outlook backed by facts and data
From thinking about which country a cement manufacturer should expand in, to what the customer preference for a particular brand of say a gaming console – Xbox, Nintendo could be or is it “back to the desktop” – a trend we have going on now — there’s never a dull moment!
CB5: In your opinion what are your success factors? What elements about your personality help in this success?
Sonali: Straddling between Strategic thinking and detail orientation; Ability to envision out of the box solutions to problems while ensuring implementation; Strong goal orientation; Vision; Hard work.
CB5: What are the significant achievements in your present career that you would like our readers to know?
Sonali: I was the Gold Medalist for BArch, Pune University;
I completed a 2 year Masters program in 1 year;
Starting a Business at a young age;
Successfully balancing work and home;
Currently, I have the big role and responsibility of nurturing the next generation and at the same time upholding world standards.
CB5: What were some of the sacrifices you had to make to reach the level of success that you have achieved?
Sonali: Undivided attention and stress-free time with family.
CB5: Would you have any advice for the younger generation, especially someone who is at crossroads trying to select an education path, say someone between ages 14-21 years?
Sonali: Be honest about why you want in a particular career. Find what you will enjoy doing even when things are not going well. Research your options by talking to people from those professions, asking them what a day in their life looks like; what is the hardest part of their job. What companies you will work with etc. if you chose a particular profession. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes and know what you are getting into to see if it fits with your idea of an ideal career choice.
Be willing to roll up your sleeves to get into new things; go deep and work hard
Beyond baseline capability, if you are a self-starter; can work with ambiguity; like “figuring things out” and are a motivated person, that is what will make you successful in this changing world.
CB5: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Sonali: Work hard, Stay motivated, Ask questions, along with IQ and EQ, CQ- Curiosity Quotient is very important. Don’t forget to Have fun!
CB5: Thank you so much for giving us your valuable time. We really appreciate it. We are sure our readers will be inspired and successful in their careers after reading about successful people like yourself!
Until our next Blog on another interesting profession…
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