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Kinkini Sarkar

Kinkini Sarkar

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

Greetings! I am an IT industry leader, working mom and an aspiring writer. In a professional capacity, I enable individuals and organizations to remain authentic to their vision and mission in the face of changing work conditions, markets and competition. I have been offering strategy and business process improvement services to the government contracting companies in the DC metro area for the past 15 years. I believe happy leaders lead happy organizations and as such am keenly interested in studying what drives a culture of the company. My goal is to help optimize and improve performance and quality of professional life through consultation, training and mentoring. I am currently in the process of working on a management model that brings together my philosophy, ideas and tools from the last 15 years of experience in thought leadership, BPM, QA, software development, project management and governance, and change management. I recently started a blog that comprising my thoughts and perspectives on a variety of current and relevant topics.

Outside of work, I am an avid reader and traveler, and love spending time with family and kids. I also volunteer on the board of directors for IDEA - a non-profit organization committed to promoting and enabling the cultural dance forms of India.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I have recently joined Ellevate and hope to make many exciting memories in the coming weeks and months! As a working mom with office and home responsibilities I know firsthand how demanding life can get, and the dire need of balance to be able to keep functioning effectively. I strongly believe women need women to thrive! In addition to learning from the wonderful professional women here at Ellevate, I would also like to be there for those want/need the support – whether it is sharing experiences, be a sounding board for ideas, discussing complex work scenarios or just listening. I have already attended networking sessions and webinars and they have been amazing! I look forward to becoming an active member of this network of strong, smart, successful and empowered women!

How would you define your professional mission?

I want to help individuals and organizations remain authentic to their vision and mission in the face of changing work conditions, markets and competition. I believe happy leaders lead happy organizations and as such am keenly interested in studying what drives a culture of the company. Everybody has leadership potential and I want to work with people to broaden their minds, overcome cognitive bias and other hidden detriments so that they can identify, activate and live their most authentic self - an essential component for happiness.

What are some career challenges on your radar?

During the past year, I have been increasingly pushing my creative and professional boundaries as I get ready for the next phase of my career. I am ready to get out of my comfort zone, and since I have always held a stable job with a consistent paycheck, I foresee the need to be more aware of the financial impact to my family and lifestyle. I also need to work on building my personal brand and identity as an organizational and individual adviser for happy and effective leadership no matter where I work.

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

My career path has been a mix of exploration, soul-searching and making hard decisions (sometimes timely and sometimes not!). I approach my career with an infinite mindset which leaves me open to constantly pushing my boundaries. I did my B.E in Computer Science (Manipal, India) and my M.S. in Information Management (Syracuse University, NY). Over the last 15 years I have been with multiple government contracting companies (both big and small) in the DC metro area. My job positions have covered the whole range of project life cycles and functional titles – from software developer and analyst to test manager to QA and BPM lead and to my current role of Director of Quality. This range has given me hands-on knowledge about all aspects of Delivery & Project Management, and the chance to work with people in different job functions at all levels of the organization. This association with different personalities and work styles over the years has been one of the most valuable aspects of my professional life, and an area that I continue to try to learn and work with more each day.

What is your morning ritual?

I like to get up early so I get a couple of hours to myself before the daily routine starts. A 30 minute yoga and meditation routine followed by a healthy breakfast is usually good enough to helps me sustain the right physical and mental outlook to go through the rest of the day.

What does success look like to you?

I believe success is having helped make someone's life easier, even if by a small amount. In my work with process improvement and organizational change, the KPIs and metrics can show and validate improvements in performance over time – however, what is valuable to me professionally and personally is when I see the positive difference a particular change has brought about in team members and overall culture within an organization. Cultural and behavioral changes are slow and need a lot of variables to align, so I usually need to be very patient and stick around a company for years before I can see these results. As a result, I treasure the moments where I have experienced this over the past decade.

Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

I don't think of it as a "balance", it is more of a work-life "synergy" for me, and it is a work in progress. The reason this particular area is tricky is mainly our expectations and the multiple players (e.g. boss, colleagues, spouse, kids, parents) involved in meeting those expectations - most of which is not always in our control. My approach is periodic self assessment in terms of priorities and expectations and timely communication with relevant stakeholders.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

To be authentic as a person and a professional. I believe it is a cumulative inference from reading a variety of books. I have always presented my perspectives - whether in discussions, debates or my writings, but I used to worry about predicting reactions and appeasing them. While I still continue to do so, these days I prefer presenting my viewpoints with appropriate justifications, but be less apologetic about them. I am open to other perspectives and willing to change mine if it makes sense, but it is important I reflect my belief in what I say or write.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?

Stop selling yourself short or considering yourself as a liability to the organization! One thing to remember is that childbearing and motherhood is a life-altering and profound experience - one that often causes a paradigm shift that gets us very clear about our priorities. So don't be apologetic about asking for adjustments at work - instead do your homework into the company culture, and confidently lay out your requests along with justifications in terms of impact on work and productivity to make this a win-win situation for all.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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