The world we live in today is extremely complicated to navigate. With the abundance of opportunities around us, also come the endless problems associated with them. Wouldn’t it make things much easier if we had someone to help us through all sorts of problems that come with today’s working culture?
Luckily, we do have Raina Khatri Tandon who is a POSH specialist, an international speaker, a thought leader, a mentor, and a UN Karamveer awardee. Her organization, Right2Rise, which is India’s 1st and only 17024 & 21001 accredited ISO Certified POSH, POSCO company that provides end-to-end solutions into training, certifications, compliance, and auditing.
This is Icy Tales, in a conversation with the self-made and charismatic woman.
Q) How would you describe your journey so far? How has it been like since the very beginning?
Raina Khatri Tandon- I think the first step is to always believe in something that will not allow you to get off track of reaching your goals. For me, it was the faith in myself that I can do it better than anybody else and no one can be the leader of my job except me because I can’t be waiting for a man to handhold my life. I always felt that women have the power to break glass ceilings.
The journey started when I was in school. My father asked me “What do you want to become?”. I said, I want to break the first glass ceiling and get into a job and I want to become an engineer. I said this because we are from a business background. He was perplexed and asked that we are from a well-to-do family, why do you want to get a job? I said that first, I wanted to learn computer engineering, and then I’ll decide what exactly I want to become.
The first breakthrough in my life came when I had to choose between Electronics and Communication Engineering, where I was getting a scholarship, and for Computer Engineering I had to pay to get my seat. The first decision I took was doing Electronic and Communication Engineering which today has made me a more versatile person.
The next step was to go abroad to continue my studies. I studied VLSI design engineering, did research, completed my Master’s, and came out with flying colors as the only Indian woman in my class that year. All of this was a step to understand that, when we allow life to be bountiful when we take that one step out of our comfort zone, that’s when our true leadership comes out, that’s when we realize that we are capable of a lot more.
Q) What led you to create Right2Rise?
Raina Khatri Tandon- Every experience I’ve had has helped me evolve. From a software-hardware engineer to a POSH specialist and eventually, POSH, (Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act) for women at the workplace, became my niche. As a woman, we are always questioned and it is said that we have to be given power. But I say that we have to take power and make something special out of it.
Successful women leaders become successful only because of two reasons- first, they know how to handle their decisions, and second, that they have been equipped with an ecosystem of supportive males who understand that women are equally good at leadership.
My company is working on women and child rights. We do training, awareness programs, certifications, and we work on compliance and auditing of all types of organizations and every workplace where the POSH laws are to be followed.
Q) What is your opinion on the existence of problems like these in modern times. Why do you think we’ve been unable to overcome gender disparities?
Raina Khatri Tandon- Gender equality is okay to think of but it’s a myth. Women can give birth, multi-task, take care of both home and work, which most men can’t. They can’t take care of emotional and financial things together, they are capable of running homes but when it comes to laying back, that’s where we way play a fundamental role. Yes, we need equality in the professional sphere in terms of equal pay, equal leadership opportunities, and everything but in other terms, we have a superior tolerance power and to live in harmony, we just need to create a bridge.
Gender sensitization is something that must be taught to children from a very young age. Because when they grow into adults, you can’t just suddenly expect them to understand this at once. And it’s not just the girls that need to be taught, it’s the boys too. It’s about telling them that even women have an equal stance, and they need to understand it as the youth of today.
Q) What do you like best about what you do? And what is it that you like the least?
Raina Khatri Tandon- What I like the best about my work is that it’s my passion. The most empowering thing for me is when I do good work and people talk- whether it’s about change, whether it’s creating leaders, whether it’s creating an impact. And what doesn’t excite me is when I don’t keep changing.
Change is inevitable but it’s difficult too and it makes you uncomfortable. But unless you’re not comfortable, you will never grow. And today I can say that I have embraced it.
Q) Who has been your constant support and pillar during all this time?
Raina Khatri Tandon- When a person grows, I’m sure there’s not just one ecosystem they have for support. One of my constant inspirations is my parents and my sister because you can always fall back on family and you should never forget your roots.
The second ecosystem is my boys and my husband. When a lady gets married, the person they seek out to is her spouse and their family and they have always been supportive of what I do.
I think it’s just god, nature, and the people around you who build you into a strong person. And of course, throughout these years, I have had many mentors too. A lot of gratitude to my present mentor, Mr. Rahul Raj who has been on this journey for the past 3.5 years.
Q) You have gained your education from a lot of different countries- India, the UK, & even Brazil. How do you think this global educational experience has contributed to your skills and to what you do today?
Raina Khatri Tandon- I’m a North Indian brought up in South India who speaks almost 11-12 languages. As a kid, I was not as confident as I am today. Over some time when you meet a lot of people, you develop a lot of skills. If you are from a culture that says you learn from everybody, then you will learn but if you are from a culture that judges everyone, then you will not learn. We observe people who have both the good and the bad but what matters is how much of that good do you take in your life.
I am very grateful for my global educational experience. Every person that I have met has impacted my life in at least one way; they gave me a different journey and different learning. The inspiration I get from all the people I meet is learning and I want to keep learning.
Q) What are some ways you think that young people can be encouraged to work for a cause that is relevant in today’s day and age?
Raina Khatri Tandon- Today’s youth are very different from what we were. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to do. More so, because we had a very defined and limited set of options. Today, there are so many alternatives to everything that the youth gets overwhelmed and anxious about choosing between them.
I think the best way to make a decision is to define the who, what, when, why, and how of what you’re going to do. If I have a roadmap and vision board in front of me, I would have clarity of purpose. The virtual space has made the youth more impatient and resilient and there’s a new approach we must take when working with them. Instead of imposing what we want them to do, we should allow them to express their opinions and experiment with things they want to.
Q) What advice do you have for young women who are trying to create a mark in this world while simultaneously also battling patriarchy?
Raina Khatri Tandon- Success is all about creating a difference in people’s life. Whatever you do, remember why you started it, and do it with excellence. Also, don’t be scared of failures because they are inevitable.
Let me tell you, female leaders are here to stay so be confident of your voice and your uniqueness. Be confident in yourself and go be the leader of tomorrow.
Q) What are some problems you face in the work you do?
Raina Khatri Tandon- Some of the problems we faced when we were growing is that when you don’t know how to do certain things, you seek people, and finding the right person is not easy. Some people will bog you down, and some will give you the wrong information. Whatever happens, just try to keep striding down and keep taking lessons.
The second thing is that when you’re growing your goals, visions, and finances will keep changing. So balancing finances was very crucial in the beginning.
Third, whenever you achieve a target, your next target is bigger. Sometimes your target can be overwhelming, sometimes it can even be underwhelming. Whatever happens, even if you don’t excel, just believe in yourself.
Q) Would you like to tell us something about your plans ahead, any new projects you’re working on?
Raina Khatri Tandon- There are some new programs we are coming up with. They are good leadership programs for the youth and women and also men who would like to become sustainable leaders. Age is not a bar.
So all that matters is that you take the first step, and we’ll be there to guide and support you.