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7 Questions on Leadership with Gita Krishna Raj

Name: Gita Krishna Raj

Title: CEO

Organisation: Maverick Group of Companies

Gita Krishna Raj, has combined her academic background of a Global MBA in Innovation & Technology Management from the London School of Business & Finance; a certification in Design Thinking from MIT, and several international certifications on fitness and yoga, with her creative expressions evolved as a professional classical dancer, inspiring actor, published writer, award winning director and innovative educator over several decades of professional work, to create India’s First Physical Literacy informed PE curriculum in schools - Maverick Fit Kids.

Today, as a pioneer presenting holistic health solutions through her company Maverick since 2003, she is a sought after advocate for the cause of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. She is the Director - school program for the SPEFL skills council of India and India Ambassador for the International physical literacy Association UK.

Her initiative, Maverick Fit Kids, is the only entity to represent the Government of India in promoting holistic physical education programs in schools.

Visit to know more. She can be reached at [email protected].

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Gita's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Each person we interact with is unique. The greatest challenge is to remember to balance between the action that needs to be done and the person assigned to do it. While the former needs to be perfected the latter is dynamically changing and needs constant renewal of perception. Every execution is therefore pursuit of excellence through managing these two aspects - objectives and people.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I started in media as a professional classical dancer, writer, actor and editor, went on the become a director of television serials winning several awards and accolades in each of my chosen fields of expression. However, life had other plans.

In 2003, after 12 years in media, I switched careers to the health and fitness industry as an entrepreneur and administrator - setting up Maverick fitness studios with my husband R.Krishnaraj.

While my initial role was only management, situations prompted me to dive into studying and certifying as a fitness professional, taking charge of the company as CEO in 2010. In 2013, as we celebrated our 10th anniversary, Krishnaraj & I decided to create an avenue to address the well-being of children. With the background of my vast experiences in the varied fields, I created Maverick Fit Kids as a physical literacy curriculum for classes KG to 12 in schools.

Today, 2023, Maverick is India’s first physical literacy informed PE curriculum in India; the only entity to represent the Government of India as the implementation partners of Sports, physical education, fitness & leisure skills council of India (SPEFL); and the only private entity in India to have an MoU with the International Physical Literacy association (IPLA) to advocate physical literacy in India.

Personally, my life’s work is validated by every trainer I have taught, every child we have impacted and every individual who understands the importance of physical literacy. As Director, school program for SPEFL & as India Ambassador for IPLA, my role today as Managing director and CEO of Maverick is more impactful and purposeful.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I am an early riser. I am generally up between 4 and 4.30 am - without the need for any wake up call. I begin my day with meditation followed by some creative work - new lesson plans, editing a music etc.

I invest 45 minutes on my personal fitness regime every morning from 8.30 am - more often doing yoga these days, strength training twice a week, sometimes a swim or indoor cycling. After an hour for personal grooming and brunch at 10, I have a packed day - sometimes visiting schools, sometimes meeting with people, very often using technology to connect or update flow of data.

I have created 3 apps for Maverick and personally use them to keep abreast with all the sessions that are conducted in schools and the gyms that are operating across India. Family time is generally during meals and after 7 pm. My daughter and I work out together. My lights are out by 9 pm! I don’t make sense after that!

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Over the last twenty years, every department that I was in charge of, I had created the protocols and processes. However, as the company grew, I restricted myself to be updated only a few key areas, assuming that those in-charge will follow the processes in other departments.

As a key function was suddenly vacated, I went back to hands-on experiencing the same and realised that some of the protocols which were being followed were redundant, and a few others that were crucial had not been followed.

It has been a reawakening that despite presenting processes, even the most basic management department needs a revisit to fine tune, revise, tweak and adapt to the changing needs of a growing business.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I recently read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. While the entire book is very inspiring, my first key take away was in chapter 13 - the two minute rule. Quoting Twyla Tharp, the author states how the first ritual is crucial to stop procrastination.

She says (as quoted) “The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.”

I realised that in order to get my team to stick to something they are not yet tuned for, it is important to give the first ritual - simply login or press this key. All other steps can follow. This simple but profound reminder helps me to identify and create the first ritual in so many aspects of both my life and my team.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

E-commerce is not about everything revolving around technology. It is about commerce presented using technology. Somehow the buzz of technical feasibility has stopped people from realising the physical aspect of anything.

It’s not about a virtual call, it is about connecting with people. It is not about having a template, it is about understanding when and how to use it. It is not about a virtual game but about being able to move your body in physically appropriate and healthy ways.

The ends don’t justify the means. But neither can the means define where you want it to go. When lost, ask for directions. Don’t let circumstances choose your destination.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Aged about 22, I had to let go of a team member in my first job. The decision was not mine, but neither was it caused by any incident or defaults. It was simply that the organisation no longer needed those services. I found it very difficult to do it.

A few months later, when I chanced upon him, he seemed to be doing very well. I thought no more about it. Unfortunately, within a few months after the meeting, he committed suicide.

The lesson was too painful. I realised, if I was to create an organisation, I should be capable of looking after the people who joined it. And in the event of someone leaving the organisation, on their own or because we chose to let him/her go, I still had to ensure they were stable enough to proceed with their life, capable of making positive choices.

People matter. I firmly believe that if I am in their life, I should positively contribute to their emotional stability and support their growth and maturity.

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