As the saying goes, “the first impression is the last impression”. Your body language can speak volumes before you’ve said a single word. How you communicate, groom yourself, your appearance, speech and ethics all contribute towards your executive presence. It has become a crucial part of one’s career growth and a necessity to scale the corporate ladder successfully. And Executive Presence coaches can help you reach the highest levels in your career.
In conversation with TC46, India’s leading Executive Presence Coach for CEOs and bestselling author Shital Kakkar Mehra talks about her experience of over 20 years of personally training thousands of professionals, CEOs and providing cutting-edge expertise that comes from her depth of knowledge and the unique way she blends the Indian corporate ethos, with global best-in-class practices.
1. What’s your educational and professional background?
I have been coaching CXOs in Executive Presence for the past 22 years. I have personally trained over 1,000 CXOs and have conducted workshops for over 70,000 professionals across Asia from leading multi-national and progressive domestic companies. It has been a wonderful and interesting journey as I have seen one generation of Indian professionals create an impact in today’s globalised world.
2. What prompted you to become a personality development coach and a motivational speaker?
In 1998, when I started my coaching/training venture, I felt that Indian professionals were extremely good technically and intellectually but lacked the soft skills needed to succeed at an international level. Indian liberalisation laws were bearing fruit and Indians were constantly communicating and engaging with clients/bosses across the world. My training/coaching helped them present the best version of themselves by upgrading critical leadership skills.
3. What was your first milestone? And how did you get there?
It was not easy. I met over 100 CXOs and it was tough trying to convince them that their teams needed these soft skills and they should view it as an investment instead of an expense. Finally, I got my first workshop to train the top team of a leading pharmaceutical company. At the end of the workshop, the attendees were so impressed that they insisted that the next two levels should be trained by me. There was no looking back.
4. Who, according to you, can benefit from a platform like yours?
Every professional and entrepreneur can benefit from creating a powerful impact in business. Technical and intellectual skills are inadequate for success. Understanding how to communicate, engage, interact and connect with stakeholders is a leadership skill that offers you a competitive edge. Leadership is about communicating effectively and we are not trained on this in our academic system or in the workplace.
5. When creating awareness about what you offer, which platforms have worked best for you in terms of ROI?
Social media is a powerful tool and based on your online presence, people decide to hire, retain or promote you. My simple tip to all professionals – create opaque walls between your personal and professional life and use each platform knowing who is the audience who will be consuming the content you post.
6. What is the monetisation model for your platform?
Our services are not ‘one-size-fits-all and we have to customise. While our online presence helps improve our visibility, our programs are customised and we have to engage with our clients in long discussions to understand their training requirements.
7. How do you market your services?
Word of mouth marketing will always remain the best! If you do a good job, showcase your achievements and highlight your wins in a simple way so that your potential clients can understand what you offer, you have a winning marketing strategy.
8. Do you have any tips for a coach who wants to enter this space? Are there any online or offline courses that you would recommend before entering this space?
Understand your area of expertise – you cannot be everything to everyone. Also, you have to be confident about what you bring to the table and work on your likeability quotient. Finally, make investments in yourself so that you can continue to offer cutting-edge content to your clients.
The world is your oyster! There is tons of information available for free or at minimal cost – keep learning!
9. Which networking groups and showcasing events could help someone in this field generate work opportunities in this field? What are some investments (monetary or otherwise) one should be ready to make when entering this space?
While people join groups, they have no visibility as they make no contributions or even indulge in social listening. Join groups where you can learn something new, engage with people in the same profession or can give back.
Keep learning, connect with people, engage in conversations, at times don’t bother if your conversations don’t convert to money; instead build long-term relationships.
10. What can you tell us about your non-profit venture, Katalyst India?
Started in 2008 with the intent of liberating women from low-income communities through the pursuit of professional education, Katalyst prepares young women for leadership roles, enhancing workplace diversity. We achieve this by supporting women in STEM through our proprietary 600-hour curriculum and a team of dedicated mentors from leading corporations. We are proud to share with you that we have impacted over 1200 women engineers in the past 14 years and are now embarking on a journey to quadruple this impact. This year, Katalyst has been recognised internationally with awards from UK, USA, Australia and Asia.
11. What are some ways a volunteer can support this movement?
You can offer your time as a volunteer or as a mentor to help support a young woman in her corporate journey. Or, as a corporation, you can offer monetary contribution by supporting a young engineer in her 4-year journey at the college. Details are available on the official website.
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