Pubali Chakravorty-Campbell, 2020 Outstanding Woman in Business
The former owner of a yoga studio, Pubali Chakravorty-Campbell made the transition to HR five years ago, and found that people regularly underestimated her ability to translate her past experiences to this new field.
They didn’t see the connection that was clear to Chakravorty-Campbell — that helping people achieve the best version of themselves leads a business to reach its fullest potential. And they didn’t know the entrepreneurial and executive coaching experience behind her youthful countenance.
Still, she worked hard for her reputation and made her own seat at the table in the business community. By taking initiative, Chakravorty-Campbell has distinguished herself as an insightful professional to which businesses can turn to for advice.
Q. What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome?
A. I immediately think of my days as a young woman in the physical fitness/whole health industry wanting to be recognized not by what I sold (yoga) but by being an exceptional businessperson. In my experience, people have preset definitions of what is correct when it comes to words like “entrepreneur,” “businessperson” or “worthy.” While many immediately looked at WHO I was, a select few looked at WHAT I was. Trying to make my way among the WHO-lookers meant being reduced and marginalized. It was the WHAT-lookers that supported, enabled and believed in me.
Q. What is your leadership style?
A. In short, I lead how I like to be led. I like leaders for whom leading is the happy outcome of being ambitious, trusting, empathetic, curious and a lover of people. I despise autocratic leaders who look at people as equipment. Those leaders only use people to get what they alone want.
Q. Have you had a mentor?
A. I am blessed to have had many, many mentors. Some who were in my life for just hours and others who have been in my life for years. My mentors have always guided my behavior and thinking more than they guided my actual business and career actions. They — many of whom are previous Outstanding Women award winners — have mentored through action and embodiment.
Q. Have you experienced discrimination because of your gender?
A. I can tell you stories that will curl your hair. I have faced age discrimination, gender discrimination and race discrimination. I have had people question everything from why I have “a funny name but no accent” to whether I am “a dot or feather Indian.” I have had people question everything and anything about me citing that “someone like me cannot possibly …” This is why I am such a huge advocate for equal rights. That said, I view my experiences as treasures. Each one strengthens and affirms my choices and values.
Q. What advice do you have for young women just starting their careers?
A. To not focus on your differences from others but your similarities. As a young person — man or woman — you are going to compete with a large and diverse group of people. Noting and discussing similarities is how you build rapport and relationships. Once that foundation is in place, you can tackle other, heavier challenges. Yes, you will notice that someone is a different gender, sexual orientation or age. Yes, you will notice that some have less experience while others have more. What’s most important is to not let that information and knowledge become a weakness or a distraction. Use it to build common ground.
Q. How do you balance your personal and professional lives?
A. I don’t! Really, it’s not easy, and it’s actually a fool’s errand to think that anyone can balance the two. To me it’s a question of smoothing, not balancing. There are days, sometimes a week at a time, when I am living a life not as a mother, wife, daughter or friend but as an HR professional, mentor, board member or colleague. The following week, I will smooth it so that I can focus on the mother, wife, daughter and friend piece. Balancing implies an equal load on each side, and for someone like me, that equal load simply isn’t a reality. Smoothing, on the other hand, is.