Leading in the current dynamic trends : 'You need to Win their Hearts!'- Vaishali Kasture

Meet the lady who, at the corporate has earned her recognition through her work in the banking and finance sector for more than 20 years! Along with the corporate knowledge, her experience as a marathoner is no less. Read on.
IJ Kavyashree
Published on: 30th December 2015
Having spent a total of nearly two decades in the banking sector, she has been there and seen the emerging trends at senior management levels. Her journey as an assistant vice president at Citibank, SBU Head, Banking and capital markets at Infosys BPO, Managing Director & COO - India at Fulcrum Group and recently as the Managing Director - India at Goldman Sachs has not only elevated her knowledge and perceptions, but also the lives of many. Let’s learn from Vaishali Kasture, 45, who has not just led minds at the corporate, but has also been a vivid marathoner who has inspired a lot of new generation people to pursue their hobbies or passion, along with profession.
Vaishali Kasture
IJ Kavyashree: A lot of women are rising to top positions in the world today like Nanda Kochhar or Indra Nooyi or yourself. So, is the scene changing for working women in the so called all man's world?

Vaishali Kasture: The scene is definitely changing! There are more women who are now going to schools. 10-15 years down the line, they disappear from work. At the grassroots level, more women are doing exceptionally well. They are not staying back in the workforce for several reasons. Either because of the way the organizations are dealing with the women, or the personal considerations or as a factor of both, the women drop out of the workforce.

 IJ: Team building is the key to build a big business system. What's your message to other company leaders trying to build big teams?

Vaishali: For the employee to stay in the company for a longer period of time, they need to enjoy working with you as a person. You need to win their hearts. It is easy to hire, but hard to retain them. If you really want to build a successful company, you need to first focus on your people. You don’t have to be nice, but you have to be honest. when you hire a college graduate for a company, he does not know who the CEO of the company is. He knows the manager and if he likes working for the manager, he will stay back. So, I feel it is important to first understand and cultivate people, genuinely care for them, and put their interest as the topmost priority, to see successful results for the company.

IJ: How do you strike work-life balance with such packed list of priorities?

Vaishali: If someone is really passionate about what they do, they do it at any cost. If you are doing job only for the sake of money, you will not really be interested. Work-life balance becomes a struggle for those who hate their job. If the same person really finds something that he loves doing, he will not have a problem balancing work and life. So, there are days when job demands more time and sometimes personal life demands more time or sometimes, the other passion you want to follow might need time, but if you enjoy what you are doing, then the balancing becomes easier.

IJ: Unlimited inspiration comes when we learn from leaders like yourself about what kept you going in worst/tough times. So, could you share about the two most tough situations/phases of your life and what was most instrumental to get you sailing?
Vaishali Kasture
Vaishali: It was in September 2008 that the biggest worldwide financial crisis had to be faced. I worked in a firm where we had just then, acquired a company. Just before 24 hours of us paying to buy the company, the entire financial market collapsed. We had put a lot of money in the company and hence had to extract value out of it. The second challenge was that, I was responsible for more than 500 people who were seeing what was happening and the team in India was new. Two most important actions at such situations would be, to be responsible for people around you and to ensure that their career does not go down. Being responsible to the company was equally important. Action-plan of three or more years had to be implemented within a year. Managing the situation at home when my son was 7 months old, the company’s financials and the people who worked for me was not at all easy. I had to take decisions to lay off people in the company and also be responsible to help them get a job in the market, to help settle well.

The solution is to break big problems into smaller ones. Prioritizing one after the other and solving it, without putting it in one big picture is important. We need not worry about the whole world, but worry only about what’s on the table and what matters to us.

IJ: Everyone knows India has the highest population of youth but, there are quite a few, not growing to what they can actually grow to be. What's your take on the Indian youth's employability standards and a general message for them?

Vaishali: The youth are way beyond today because of the internet. If they want to change their job, they have the courage and the support of parents. My advice is to experiment until they find their inner calling, find what they are passionate about. It cannot just happen easily. You cannot say that you have changed 2 jobs and have still not found your passion. It takes a while to really figure out what you really like.

Secondly, youth need to have patience. They should not change job every few months saying that they have not found their passion. It needs to be given sometime. Passion is not obvious to oneself. So it’s important to have patience to find your passion

IJ: Just off the business, but very important for readers, you are frequent at adventure events. what is your view on importance of adventure or travel in a person's life?

Vaishali: I run at marathons and ultra marathons quite regularly. I am the first Indian woman to qualify for the Boston marathon. I like running for various aspects. First, it’s a great physical activity and I am in a job providing international services. There’s a lot of stress, desk-work for long hours. There is no time. Our bodies tend not to get enough exercise. I run for 30-45 minutes and that’s a lot of exercise to help me stay fit. Second, fitness can make your brain lot more sharper. Third, I go through ups and downs at work and home. For me , running is more meditative and it makes me feel good. Running is the food for my soul. I do marathons since I, anyways do a lot of running. People who have more physical activities are well grounded and are more confident of their abilities. People who play team sports, make great team managers over time. People who  do endurance sports, have the ability to stay back in tough situations because of their mental strength. So, getting the culture of sports ingrained in our  lives will make us better corporate employees.
Vaishali Kasture
It is very important to travel. We need not spend money on acquiring things but, on experiences. Travel the world, travel to build new experiences, you become a lot wiser. The biggest disrespect one can do to his money is to spend unwantedly and not using it for experiences. Coming out of comfort zone is most important.

IJ: You have also been a part of the fundraiser events like the Oxfam Trailwalker. How important is it for anyone to involve himself/herself in helping the downtrodden part of the society?

Vaishali: Corporates do their bit through CSR activities. Youth of today are so obsessed with themselves that, they don’t know what’s on the other side.

It’s great to be focused on oneself, but by imbibing such a culture, the urban youth are losing out what real India is like. The real India is 70% of the space, which is a few kilometers away from the city. By staying connected with the bigger part of the country and aware of what is happening in the world, one could be a more sorted person, and will be a better human being, at home and at work.

Age doesn’t matter for someone to find passion. Like Vaishali, who found her passion to run, at the age of 30, seems to be more successful than many at the corporate. She has not only set an example for employees at the senior management levels of the companies, but is also an example who proves what it means to be entrepreneurial. According to the CNN Money analysis, women hold only 14.2%  of the top leadership positions at the companies in the S&P 500. Vaishali’s journey is surely a trigger for a lot of women and is bound to increase the percentage of women who shall come out of their boxes to create revolutions. Vaishali moves ahead with bigger dreams and will be taking up a new role soon. The world looks forward to know her upcoming ventures, while IUeMagazine wishes her good luck for the journey ahead!
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