DisruptHR Chicago: Interview with Sangita Kasturi

sangitaSangita Kasturi is a dynamic consultant, facilitator and speaker on topics of inclusive leadership, change management and communication. She leverages her cross-functional expertise to speak and lead workshops in North America, Europe and Asia, working with many Fortune 500 companies, as well as mid-size and non-profits.

As founder and CEO of Action Inclusion, she partners closely with organizations to build capacity in leadership, diversity and change, through strategies, workshops, coaching and consulting engagements.

Sangita is adjunct MBA professor at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management where she teaches executive success skills, presentation skills, global diversity and transformational change. She is a consultant to the school and engages with many of their clients in areas of leadership, diversity and change. She has been recognized numerous times for “Contributing to Excellence in Learning”.

Sangita shares with us some insights prior to DisruptHR Chicago, on October 19th, 2016, where she will be speaking.

Editor: Tell us about yourself – your career history and how to came to be at your current role

Sangita: I am a speaker, consultant, artist, writer and MBA professor, still morphing out of my old life as an engineer. I came into my current role after quitting my engineering career, backpacking solo through the Amazon jungle, returning and recasting myself as a journalist (I won an AP award) and then getting my Masters in gender and culture.

I don’t like being “boxed in” and appreciate others who straddle talents in disparate fields. I am equally comfortable leading an audience of 300 toward new thinking on diversity strategies as I am creating paintings of women leading, often bringing them to charities and auctions dedicated to social  advancement. I will forever believe in the infinite creativity and possibilities of people and intend to stay curious and bold for the rest of my life.

Editor: What does your company do? 

Sangita: Action Inclusion Consulting provides strategic consultations and workshops in Inclusive Leadership, Women Leaders and Diversity Strategies. Founder and CEO Sangita Kasturi brings more than 15 years of global experience, catalyzing Fortune 500s, non-profits and academic institutions toward game-changing strategies to unleash the potential of their all employees. She has a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Northwestern University.

Editor: Any upcoming product launches or initiatives you’d like to highlight to our audience? 

Sangita: I am working on a Gender Equality series in partnership with another organization. So far, we have launched 3 summits – Challenging the Status Quo (unconscious bias), Why Women Need More Sponsors and Fewer Mentors and Unpacking the Wage Gap. I have a TED Talk coming up on this theme as well as articles challenging us to rethink the stereotypes we have about men, because gender equality needs to include everyone, not just women.

Editor: What does an average work week look like for you? 

Sangita: Some weeks are lots of lunches and dinners to build business. Other weeks are proposal heavy or I may be immersed in designing or delivering a workshop or speech. Or all of this may be happening at once (it usually is). I love the variety and the ability to influence people’s thinking on gender equality and social change.

Editor: What made you decide to be a speaker at DisruptHR Chicago? 

Sangita: It’s about time we disrupted the tried and not so true practices of HR. Plus I know Nancy Harris, one of the organizers who reached out to me.

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Editor: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR Chicago?

Sangita: I will be asking the question, Where Are All the Disruptive Women? It’s interesting that when it comes to the Next Big Thing, disruption fuels the game changers. Think Uber, iPad, Twitter…But where are the disruptive women? Can we celebrate groundbreaking, risk-taking, innovation in women the way we do in men? We will unleash disruptive women everywhere because as someone once said, “Well-behaved women never made history!”

Editor: What are the major learnings that attendees will take from your session? 

Sangita: Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the gendered filters we apply when judging people. They will be challenged to rethink their assumptions about both genders and anything in between. Women and men are still held to very different standards. Finally, they will leave with a new language that defines gender equality as just that – the shedding of limiting stereotypes for both men and women. After all, you can’t have equality in the boardroom until you have equality in the home.

Editor: You only have 5 minutes to present at DisruptHR Chicago. What unique challenges and opportunities does this format offer? 

Sangita: I love the 5 minute format! It’s a chance to hit hard, with impact and a thirst to want to know more. The challenge, of course, the obvious challenge is to say in 5 minutes what you would normally convey in the course of the 2-day workshop.

Editor: Why does Chicago need an event like DisruptHR?

Sangita: It’s not just Chicago… Most areas with corporations would benefit from rethinking all their HR or people processes in the light of our global economy.

Editor: Are you attending/speaking at any other HR-related events in the next 6-12 months? If so which ones and why?

Sangita: I just finished speaking at SHRM on Cultural Diversity and Global Leadership. I will be speaking at the Schaumburg Business Association on the topic of Voice and Power, particularly for women. And I will be doing a TED Talk on Gender and Culture in December. Those are the big ones.

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Author: Editor

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