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7 Questions on Leadership with Girija Gopinath

Name: Girija Gopinath

Title: ECCE Project Operations

Organisation: Ampersand Group

Born and brought up in a close knit matriarchal and professional family, Girija Gopinath is a deep thinker and ardent learner right from the start. Post her Masters she got into a Canadian Multinational (Bell Canada Inc.) in 1995 where she carved a niche in Relationship Management and Service. Her thirst for learning and growing made her pursue MBA from NMIMS.

She has rich and diverse experience of 17+ years in various industries like Advertising, Express, Health-care, Security, FMCG etc. where she set-up “Care and Touch-point Departments” raising the bar in “Total Customer Experience” there-by bringing about a cultural change in people and organization's towards creating value to business and customers.

In 2014 “Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd” gave her a perfect opportunity to pursue something she was passionate about "Learning and Education" In her role of managing Franchise Business and Partner Relations, she was managing 100+ preschools and 29 K12 schools in India, Maldives, Dubai and Qatar. She ensured partners were happily retained by streamlining the “Process”, and increasing the “Service Levels and Satisfaction Quotient” of the Franchise Partners in the system.

She presently works with Ampersand Group (Vibgyor Group of Schools) managing Govt Projects. Last 2 years she has set-up 700 Balwadi’s for MCGM and currently setting up 83 Smart Creche for Karnataka Govt. Her interest in the workings of the human brain and its connections to human behavior made her pursue Transactional Analysis in 2015, which then led her to deep dive into Yoga, Meditation and finally Mindfulness.

She is an ardent practitioner of mindful-living and just being. She firmly believes that this world can be made a better place if human mind can be at peace with a knowing that there is a definitive place for everyone under the sun.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Keeping everyone on the same energy level at all times.

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

I think I was always a leader right from childhood. Though I was a bossy leader as a child. As I started my work I was a task master. I focused only on the numbers and never understood the importance of feelings, emotions and how it impacts the thinking and outcome of an individual. One my mentor for whom I have great respect, had a nice little chat with me. He said its never about the outcomes. You may be a great productive one but that does not make you a leader.

That just makes you a pushy boss. He said that when you realise that you are not this designation but much more than that, thats when you will impact people from within. He advised me to do some deep down reflection. And I guess I decided to take on some EQ sessions to change the way I lead my team. Now I can safely say I am a Mindful Leader.

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

I get up by 5.30 am, do my basics. Have a cup of tea and then meditate for 30 mins in a day. I then go over my TO-DO list on 5 task that need absolute focus while doing the list of regular task. Then I have my morning routine. Reach my workspace @ 8.30am. Read my emails for an hour. Have a morning huddle with Team on the days agenda. I then listen to a Tedtalk for about 15-20 mins while having a cup of green tea.

Then I crack my escalation calls. Close shop by 4.30 pm. Back home, I sit quietly for sometime while sipping my tea, go thru a bit of digital. Have a shower, early dinner by 7.00pm, a bit of Netflix, Meditate and switch off by 09.30pm. This my regular day when I am not travelling for work/pleasure. I like a schedule and follow it on regular work days.

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

I have learnt that work is not the only thing in life that needs attention. People have priorities and its important to be clear about ones priorities in life. And we need to do a job that fulfills us and makes us getup in the morning and go for it.

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?

Power of Now. I realised that I need to be mindfully available to team mates. I also realised that individually we may not have the power but together we can achieve everything we chart out to achieve as long as we get a buy-in from each person on the role they will play to make the goal happen.

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

Be humble during your best days and have belief in yourself during all days

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

The way I impacted a person's belief about self. I had a team player who had self-regulation issues. I realised that rather than giving up I can make a difference in the persons life. I decided to be a behavioral coach to this person. I shared a few mindfulness techniques and tracked the persons progress. Today I can surely say the person has developed self-regulation capabilities and maintains calm despite situational triggers.

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