For many, the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown have disrupted life and work in the most unimaginable ways. But others have seen this period as an exciting opportunity to get cracking on projects that they’ve always dreamt of. Harappa faculty Shilpa Limsay, an executive and leadership coach, belongs to the second category. A trained behavior scientist, psychotherapist, and coach, she is also the founder and CEO of Sunbeam India, a training and development organization. In the ninth of our series of interviews with Harappa faculty, we asked her about her biggest learnings from this period. She tells us how she used this period to work on a project that was always close to her heart, and how we can use different skills to find opportunities for growth and success in the pandemic. Read on.

The Importance Of Collaboration

We asked Shilpa which Harappa Habit—Think, Solve, Communicate, Collaborate, Lead—she has relied most on in this lockdown period. She said she has used the Collaborate habit a lot as she has been working closely with others to create a new program for professionals. 

This period has helped her realize that she doesn’t need to do it all alone and there are people around her who she can collaborate with and rely on as well. So she has been making it a point to reach out to people when she needs them.

Shilpa believes young professionals should hone their ability to ask for help in this period. Everyone doesn’t have to do everything. She feels that young professionals need to understand that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Sometimes someone else may be better at doing something. She says, “Don’t try to be Superman or Superwoman.”

Finding Opportunities During These Times

Shilpa—who has over a decade of experience in leadership development, facilitation, and coaching—has used this time to introspect and reflect on her life and work. She said she has been evaluating her priorities and figuring out her next steps. She has also been practicing staying in the moment and paying attention to her thoughts and emotions. This has helped her feel more centered during these tumultuous times. 

Has the lockdown provided her an opportunity to do something she always wanted? Shilpa said that she is excited about designing a new program called ‘Reset Your Life’, a program she never had the time or bandwidth for until the lockdown. She has reinvented herself professionally several times and is excited about helping others do the same through this initiative.

The world of work today is more focused on lifelong learning, unlearning, and relearning as people and organizations embrace change. We asked Shilpa what her top learnings have been in this period, and what she has unlearned and had to relearn. Shilpa says, “I had to relearn marketing, both soft and not-so-soft marketing.” 

Though she has had roles in sales and marketing early in her career, she shifted tracks a long time ago to leadership development. She added that though she doesn’t particularly enjoy marketing, she has had to relearn how to do it for the new program she has launched. 

The Transition To Work From Home

We asked Shilpa if she faced any setbacks working remotely during the lockdown, and how she overcome them. She says her back began hurting when she started working from home. “I realized I wasn’t sitting in the right position. So I decided to pay attention to ergonomics and changed my chair. It made a huge difference,” she says.

Apart from that, she has realized that she is working much more than usual during this work-from-home period. She has been working through lunch breaks, into the evenings, and even on Sundays. This has been exhausting. So she is trying to understand when and how to take breaks.

The Future Of Work 

One big change her organization has made is that it is conducting its leadership training and coaching programs online now. She says she never imagined it would be an easy transition, but it has worked out well for her.

Shilpa says that there was a myth that professionals in her line of work believed in— that behavior change takes place only in face-to-face sessions. 

That has been disproved during the lockdown. She feels that going forward, people will do more training and coaching online. 

Shilpa says she sees massive shifts that are transforming the world of work. Citing the example of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), she says, “Look at TCS—75% of employees will work from home for a year.” 

Eventually, she believes, not everyone will go back to the office every day. This means a lot of offices may shut down and move to virtual offices. According to her, work will become hybrid—a combination of virtual and in-person. People will become more comfortable with working remotely. 

Read the other blogs in this series here and here.

Learn to build trust-rich work relationships with the Establishing Trust course from Harappa Education. Foster strong trust-based relationships at work with our Online Courses to make your world of work better.

Shilpa was interviewed by Sanjay Deshpande who is a Senior Specialist in the Curriculum Team at Harappa Education.

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