Shivangi Walke leveraged her deep understanding of organizational change to begin her own firm, ‘Xponential’, which provides soft-skills leadership programs to individuals and organizations. Taking forward her passion for mentoring and developing women leaders, she has also founded the women-mentoring non-profit, ‘Thrive with Mentoring’.
“Just as teaching another person is the best way to learn, developing another person is the best way to develop”, is a maxim that Shivangi embodies. With a career spanning almost 2 decades as an adult learning and development professional, this entrepreneur, and mother of two is adept at bringing both the soft (purpose, people, process) and hard (strategy, structure, systems) perspectives together to address real business needs.
Charting a career across India and Switzerland
Shivangi is a Swiss citizen of Indian origin, having moved 18 years ago, to Switzerland from India, after her marriage. Now a mother of two boys, ages 10 and 6, Shivangi originally studied to become a Biomedical Engineer. She then pursued her Masters in Human Resources with TISS* in Mumbai.
She worked in the corporate world for several years in the field of leadership and talent management, in India and then in Switzerland. Shivangi reflects on her early years in Switzerland, “Now, having seen the number of highly professional women who have either followed their spouses or moved here for other reasons and not having a fulfilling career in Switzerland, makes me believe that I was in the right place at the right time”.
After her move to Switzerland, she joined Swiss Reinsurance as a Training & Development Manager, based in Rüschlikon. For someone fairly new to the country, Shivangi is ever grateful to her first manager who recognized her potential and entrusted her with delivering high-budget projects. Shivangi has held leadership roles in Talent management and Organization Development in organizations such as Novo Nordisk, Amcor, and Syngenta.
From career woman to entrepreneur
Shivangi established herself as an independent Leadership Development consultant four years ago and armed herself with a Masters in Organisational Development from Middlesex University (London). Early this year, she ventured into entrepreneurship and co-founded, Xponential GmbH (www.xponential.live), which focuses on bringing award-winning soft skills leadership programs to Swiss workplaces. Some of the programs, such as its flagship program, Crucial Conversations, focuses on effective communications in high stakes relationships. Shivangi wholeheartedly believes in the power of effective communication, “Crucial conversations have the capacity to transform relationships. The more leaders can master crucial conversations, the more sustained their business successes will be”, she says.
The foundational goal of Xponential is to become a trusted partner for individuals and organizations for deep and transformational learning.
The genesis of ‘Thrive with Mentoring’
Launched in December 2017, ‘Thrive with mentoring’ is a not-for-profit initiative, which Shivangi considers to be a “classic example of life happening when you make other plans”.
Through her professional roles, Shivangi experienced that there are few women in senior-most roles in organizations, and even those few women who have managed to break the ‘glass ceiling’ are not necessarily nominated as mentors. “There is both a conscious and an unconscious bias in the system, against having women as mentors”, she says. ‘Thrive’ was born out of an effort to democratize mentoring and give many women the opportunity to be mentors. The program brings together senior professional women together with emerging women leaders in a mentoring relationship. The program starts with a high-energy launch event where the mentors and mentees who are pre-matched based on their profile, strengths, and needs respectively can meet each other in person. They are trained in how a mentoring relationship can be developed and sustained.
Shivangi considers herself fortunate to have been joined from early-on by excellent women in Switzerland who backed this cause. She then took the program to Mumbai in January 2018, and the initiative took wings! ‘Thrive with Mentoring’ is now present in 10 cities and 4 countries in Europe & Asia, and continues to grow. In October 2018, Thrive will be launching the program in Johannesburg, South Africa. Today there are 400 plus women who are in mentoring relationships fostered through ‘Thrive’, undoubtedly an accomplishment for an organization less than a year old.
Pursuing your passion
Most of us aim to achieve a balance when we set out on a journey of personal growth. Shivangi has an extremely supportive husband Rajesh, whom she considers being an active partner in all her endeavors. When asked to share a few words of wisdom on juggling career and a family, she speaks about how we should accept and embrace the imbalance that comes with pursuing one’s passions. She says, “I have a slightly controversial view on this. When everything is balanced, you are able to do things in moderation – which is a choice that you can choose to make, and I respect that. My experience is that when you are passionate about something, your life will get unbalanced. When something truly drives you, and fuels you, the chances that you will make a real difference in the society increase dramatically.”
Finally, Shivangi quotes Howard Thurman, noted civil rights activist who expressed this notion of pursuing your passion powerfully, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
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