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Dr Shubhalaxmi Acharya is Redefining Personality Test Through COBS

An Interview with Dr. Shubhalaxmi Acharya who is a Behavioral Scientist, Founder – Mind Elements (, Creator of COBS, Core Mindset Mapping © behavioral test, Author of Core Mindsets @ Work. She writes on “Talent and Behaviour” for various Chamber of Commerce magazines and is on Expert Panels for Leadership Audit
Dr Shubhalaxmi Acharya is Redefining Personality Test Through COBS

How did you get the idea of COBS? What were the key problems that moved you to arrive at this?

During my tenure as a Talent Sourcing Head, where I got exposed to the world of people, profession, roles and responsibilities, career aspirations I found every other individual working in an SME / large Corporate looking for a job change. This intrigued me. Of the many umpteen reasons some were due to low remuneration, incompatibility with seniors, lack of facilities, non-favourable working conditions, late hours, no family life etc.

My ultimate aim of fulfilling client’s manpower requirements and at the same time assuring happiness of candidates was challenging. Some of the candidates would come back disappointed with the job offer and would look for immediate job change. Repeat occurrences of this behaviour was the triggering point.

It was unethical to shift candidates from one organization to another due to a great rapport maintained with my esteemed clients. This was critical and I was looking out for a solution. I went into deep research on human behaviour at the workplace and found that mismatch of mindset of the candidates to their job profile was one of the critical reasons for job attrition.

I read the works of various psychologists from the past and was impressed by their studies and theories. By then I had already interviewed over 2000 candidates personally and had an eye for details for observing their behaviour closely.

During this time, Core Mindset Mapping ©, behavioural test tool using the COBS formula was developed after deep research and understanding of behaviour patterns that existed in Human Beings. As I probe deeper every individual is exceptional and has a set of characteristics, which differ from the others. Just like the finger print or the retina where everyone has an individual specific characteristic similarly behaviour too has a similar set of characteristics. They have all the elements of COBS but in different proportion which makes them unique. I was able to capture the fine elements which differentiated people on the basis of their behaviour. This made me dive deeper into understanding and analysing human beings and finding out how they could match their behaviour to their work profile, career and the industry to which they belong.

Understanding the mindset is a crucial aspect which each individual should undertake especially when he or she is involved /associated with an organization, institute or a family.

What have been your past experiences? Have they mattered in coming up with COBS ?

Yes, ofcourse ! My past experience was to deal with people at the Operational level, Business level, professional level and student level. As we have entered the digital economy with e-commerce setting in the way of businesses across the globe are changing. These changes are throwing multiple challenges to people across the ages who occupy positions in the workplace. I was constantly on the look out of how harmony could be established amongst teams and how inner happiness could be achieved by the individual who is out to spend 1/3rd of his active life working or pursuing a business. This led to the creation of COBS

Dr Shubhalaxmi Acharya is Redefining Personality Test Through COBS
Pic: Presentation on Talent Sourcing for MSME Growth at Golden Maharashtra Manufacturing Summit 2015

What motivated you to take up the journey of Entrepreneurship?

I always had a dream to have my own firm while pursuing graduation in textiles at Nirmala Niketan, College of Home Science, Mumbai. I had become an entrepreneur at the age of 22 and alongwith with my batchmate created our own range of textile hand dyed fabrics and macramé handicrafts and would enthusiastically sell them during exhibitions and various events. Initial investment in business was with the support of our families. Though my father was a businessman, he wanted me to experience life’s struggle and find my way of generating income and investment in the business. Manufacturing products is a different ball game and constantly needs funds for creating, and manufacturing new products, marketing, branding and ultimately selling to the end customers. I had to fulfil my wish and hence in the process got my first job as a Merchandiser at Burlingtons’ Exports. I was happy to understand garment manufacturing and export business. I worked very hard for nearly 6 years in the Operations domain in four different companies.

The transition from my earlier entrepreneurial days to being a salaried employee was due to the eco system not present to support Entrepreneurship and that too woman entrepreneurship. Then I migrated to the world of Human Resource and Talent.

I landed in a Human Resource Consulting firm and here I met my tough mentor.

I was assigned to independently handle Talent Sourcing that empowered me as an individual to communicate with Business Owners of multinational companies while handling their manpower requirements. Having been part of the corporate world for nearly 13 years now with dual experiences of Operations and Human Resource and seeing confusion in the minds of people with respect to their careers and education forced me to go deep into research of human behavioral sciences and finally create the COBS test. A thought always overcame me how could I contribute to build a better place where human beings could live in harmony and hence Mind Elements was born.

Did you feel prepared to start the venture at the time you started it?

Yes, absolutely, I was very confident of my Core Mindset Mapping © behavioural test tool. I had by then got the experience of handling various assignments pertaining to Talent Sourcing, Employee Audit, Student Audit, Faculty Audit, Leadership Audit in major industry segments, where my Core Mindset Mapping © behavioural test was being successfully used. Moreover I had also written a book “Core Mindsets@ Work” which highlights real life experiences of employee behaviour in different work environments. The findings in my years of involvement in my profession helped me to articulate incidences and present them in a manner where the reader can easily integrate it to his or her own very experiences. It took nearly two years to complete the book before it was launched in 2016 at the Somaiya Campus, Mumbai amidst various dignitaries, professionals and students.

5. 'COBS’ is a very unique name, how did you come up with it?

The original name was “AGPL” used in my book highlighting 11 types of mindsets which got published. For Copyrighting, an unpublished version of the test had to be submitted due to which I had to change the name. On further research, the name was changed to “CSOB” which highlights 17 types of mindsets in the entire human spectrum.

The pronunciation of the term CSOB is longer and there could be difficulty in remembering this formula, hence it was finally changed to “COBS” on the suggestion given by Mr. Sujit Lalwani, CEO of Simus Ventures, over a cup of coffee during his recent visit to Mumbai. It did not take more than a second to agree on COBS. It could also be addressed as “Identify the COBwebs(short form COBS) in an individual to know his mindset”

How is ‘COBS’ different from other Personality tests?

The beauty of COBS is that one can precisely understand the behavioral nature of an individual thereby giving him / her the most correct direction in choosing a career or defining a role of responsibility. Once the individual at the behavioral level is aligned to his work profile, he/ she feels very much at ease, thereby is able to remove/reduce the stress that comes in working in an enterprise. Work then becomes a hobby and the individual is able to excel and evolve thereby contributing a lot.

Another area of uniqueness that lies with COBS is that it able to identify a Leader from a Performer. And this feature directly helps in succession planning and performance appraisal process. It also gives a graphical representation of the leadership quotient which is not provided by other tests.

To whom do you recommend taking up this test & how will it benefit them?

The COBS test is useful for/in:

Professionals / Business Owners to “Know their Business Mind”

Start-Up entrepreneurs to Know their Business & Entrepreneurial Mind

Students -To Know themselves in order to choose the right education stream and career

Employee Audit Process - To know the inner/ Professional Mind of the employees and linking it to their job roles and responsibilities

Leadership Audit Process - to identify the Leader from the Performer for succession planning

Benefits of the COBS test

  • Gives insights on Leadership Potential
  • Identifies the Leader from the Performer
  • Creates long term sustainable teams
  • Brings about Compatibility amongst people in Enterprises
  • Brings in Clarity to choose the right career/profession.

Could you highlight 3 most prominent case studies of Impact on the Individuals post the Test?

The COBS test has impacted business owners, professionals as well as students.

Some Prominent case studies of Impact are mentioned below:

An IIT’ian gold medallist and a start-up Entrepreneur is into execution of Strategic Analytical Research activities to support the Scientific Community across the World. Though their core activity segment remains Pharmaceuticals, they wish to be global player in Scientific Innovations. The COBS test helped him understand his Business Mind and gave him the confidence after knowing himself so thoroughly. He sincerely worked towards eliminating his drawbacks and focussing on his excellent areas. He also took the Suggestions for Improvement seriously and worked on them. He recently set-up a 5000 sq. ft. area laboratory space in Vashi, Navi Mumbai.

Dr Shubhalaxmi Acharya is Redefining Personality Test Through COBS

Pic: Presenting the book to Dr.Eduard Muller - Founder, President of University for International Cooperation -Costa Rica

Secondly, the Director of a renowned legacy driven company into optical business had issues with their business development manager who was irregular since 4 months. His COBS test revealed his mindset being of a complicated one, which is rare in existence. He sometimes displayed activeness and sometimes irregular, slow and lazy. People around would get confused with this behavior and praised him at one moment but also ridiculed him the other moment. When he understood the COBS tool and the reasons behind his behaviour, it was easier to bring about the change in him. He started to work upon himself and bringing discipline in life and expressed his desire to improve upon his weak areas and not give anyone an opportunity for future complaints. The Director has seen him change drastically for good and is happy with his performance post the COBS test and Counseling.

Thirdly, a student who scored 90% in 10th Std but fails to sincerely study in 12th Std is a matter of concern especially for working parents...I was approached by one such parent 45 days before the 12th board exam and the first and foremost thing was to know the mindset of the student through the COBS test. On knowing her behavioural mindset it was clear on how to get her aligned to focus and clear her exams. Regular mentoring sessions and follow-up helped and finally she scored a distinction. Today she is happy pursing her 1st year graduation in KC college and intends to pursue Psychology as a major. Her double dose of Creative quotient and motivation of being a part of the NSS, won her 3rd prize in the street play titled "Say No to Plastic" and was featured in the Hindustan Times newspaper mentioning her name. Parents are proud of her.

What were your Goals when you started and have, they evolved in the course of the Journey?

My goal was to connect Focus to Fortune by making as many individuals undergo the COBS behavior test so that there is Clarity in Purpose and Commitment to pursue their dreams. The test is now LIVE and I wish the COBS test reaches out to atleast 10,000 people, benefitting them in their daily work and making them understand themselves better, thereby creating a better planet.

Dr Shubhalaxmi Acharya is Redefining Personality Test Through COBS

Pic: Certificate of Excellence award for IMC RBNQA Award cycle 2013 receiving from Mr. Rana kapur Founder & MD Yes bank

What is your Vision with COBS? What impact you envision it would create in the world in next 10 years?

In a fiercely technological driven world, it is the machines and robots that will replace the mundane activities of human beings. Just mechanical transactions or repetitive work handled by human beings will soon find themselves redundant and replaced by fast computers.

However, against this background it is the human mind which will create and administer the future with Innovation and Creativity of the human race. As we evolve and become the people force, we need to have Behavior of the Self known so that we can adjust and align with the turbulent times ahead.

Leadership and Performance linked to attitude and behavior will surface as one of the predominant factors required in running future enterprises. This is where the COBS, Core Mindset Mapping behavioral test will come into handy and build up organizations based on behavioral insights.Knowing themselves at the behavioral level, will bring in Clarity which will inturn give confidence to commit and achieve their aspirations.
Getting people Committed is a challenge faced by organizations at large and hence “Knowing Oneself’ will surely break this barrier in the long run.
If you think you must understand yourself better and get yourself onto the best or most suitable path in your career, go ahead and take the COBS test on the website.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 22nd January 2019.

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