Suman Nair: Treading the Path Less Travelled

Suman Nair,Managing Director

Suman Nair

Managing Director

A significant portion of industries in India remains patriarchal to this day. Though progress has been made in some areas, leadership training and consultant space has seen few or no women pioneers. Suman Nair (Managing Director, Atiitya Training & HR Consultancy) is one of those few Indian women who are active in the international leadership training space. She had to battle stereotypes and patriarchal elements on the way to her present day success. As an instance of her entrepreneurial success as well as one of her diligent approaches as a woman, Suman has a story to relate where she was the only woman and the last person among several other male representatives to pitch for a business opportunity with a bank. However, she managed to bag the project as she stood out with her experience, conviction and complete understanding of the customer need. she was able to capture the chairman’s attention, though she was given only five minutes to make the presentation.. “It’s not easy, if I have survived 13 years doing a great job, I think I have put in good amount of effort,” says Suman.

The recession in the IT sector during 2004 had incentivized Suman, then leading the HR department of an IT company in Mumbai, to untangle from the onuses of a corporate job and pursue what she valued. Enthusiastic about training and learning facilitation, she hired and assembled trainers & facilitators, and garnered credibility & acclaim for her works. Before long, she started acquiring overseas clients and assisting global consulting firms to execute their projects in Asia. This immensely fruitful learning experience gave her insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the global consulting space. At present, her journey has taken her to a point where she is coaching senior
leaders, CXOs, and MDs of companies on strategic leadership, a feat that she is proud of, aided by numerous certifications.

Being able to sense the development needs in Leadership, Suman offers practical solutions as opposed to theoretical steps and enables her clients to experience the transformation

Practical approach
Suman utilizes her experience in the key positions of various roles she has played in the past companies she was employed with , to learn the intricacies of a leadership position and only then does she coach others on leadership strategies. Having handled different positions in her career that spans more than two decades, the broad experience helps her to comprehend the pain-points of her clients. Being able to sense the development needs in Leadership, she offers practical solutions as opposed to theoretical steps and enables her clients to experience the transformation. Upholding values through out, Suman develops training modules from scratch without appropriation from any other sources. She is also a certified Enneagram coach, assisting her clients to optimize their strengths and develop, enhance, smoothen, sharpen - their weaknesses leveraging the system for transformation.

No Shortcut to Success
In the beginning of the entrepreneurial journey, considerable amount of risk was taken by Suman, having little or no resources; but hard work, commitment, continued learning and integrity has paved the way for the company to stay active for the last thirteen years with occasional stumbles that accompanied introduction of new initiatives. The company has also faced a few financial hits and setbacks which were eventually over come by determination, though Suman could have easily chosen a painless path to traverse. Suman’s love for her work offsets the strain and burn-out that the work burdens her with. She has learnt that there is
no room for complacency for a business person and she has to stay active with ideas to enter the market and educate the clients. Her enterprise is also on the process of discovering ways to retain committed employees.

Knowing Suman
Family has been over whelmingly supportive of Suman. Her father, the role model from whom she has inherited people connect, has influenced Suman to tread a similar path through his involvement in the community. Suman’s husband has made sacrifices of his own and has quit his job to accompany her in her journey, and she considers him to be an integral part of her success and growth. Suman spends quality time with her two daughters by engaging in activities of their preference like visiting a mall or chatting over a cup of coffee.

Suman’s day begins with a walk. Though she is as busy , she finds time to play cricket and table tennis. Cooking, singing, reading and writing are also activities that she finds herself interested in. She is also a trained radio jockey who has hosted chat shows in the past. Goa is Suman’s favorite destination which she visits at least twice a year with her family.She gets highly inspired by the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a movie that Suman believes enthuses people to discover themselves and embark on challenging pursuits.

Keen observation and intuition helps Suman assimilate and retain information. She considers her inability to decline her clients’ extended requests to be an area she needs to explore for development. as this seems to put pressure on the delivery infrastructure. She is now aiming high to build better visibility for her company in the future. Advising the budding entrepreneurs, Suman quotes, “If you feel passionate about something, just go for it”. She also exhorts them to follow their passion without compromising their values, and to be steady in the turbulent waters to achieve what they set out for since only the turbulent waters help find newer destinations. Suman believes that when things are going best, disrupt it to create/build something new or better!