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“Employees are the primary resource that can steer the company towards success or failure.” with Joyeeta Das and Chaya Weiner

Employees are the company. They are the primary resource that can steer the company towards success or failure. The impact they have on all three mentioned factors is huge. Starting from the health of the employee, I believe happiness can greatly impact overall health and wellbeing. Thanks to meditation, now I can see better how […]

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Employees are the company. They are the primary resource that can steer the company towards success or failure. The impact they have on all three mentioned factors is huge. Starting from the health of the employee, I believe happiness can greatly impact overall health and wellbeing. Thanks to meditation, now I can see better how state of mind and health go hand in hand. Everything else simply follows. Productivity cannot be achieved without happy employees in good health, and profitability is just a consequence of productivity paired with a good product.


As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joyeeta Das, Founder and CEO at Gyana. She holds a degree in Electronic Engineering as well as a degree in Physics and an MBA from Oxford University, where she received the Saïd Scholarship and fellowship for the Entrepreneurship Centre. Joyeeta is also a Tedx speaker and an ambassador for Innovate UK’s “Women In Innovation”. She volunteers with numerous charitable organisations and has been selected to be a diplomatic representative at UK-Brazil/ Canada/USA trade delegations. She received numerous awards, such as “Top 100 techie in UK” by MSDUK 2017, “Top 100 Asian Tech Stars in UK Tech” 2017, “Top 10 Women in IT” 2018.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

After my studies I worked as an engineer and coder at Cisco.

At the time, my plan was to climb the career ladder in technology, but somehow I was bitten by the startup bug. I left Cisco to join a B2B SaaS startup in Bangalore as one of their co-founding members with the task of building their sales teams.

After that, I decided to set up a non-profit — Anahata Life — before returning to Cisco as a program manager and then finally deciding to head for the UK and the University of Oxford University to complete an MBA.

However, even during my time at Oxford I felt my entrepreneurial hunger emerge. That is when the idea of Gyana generated. I always had a passion for patterns, in particular human movements. They can reveal a lot about a place, a business, the whole economy, and possibly even the future. I dedicated most of my time to Gyana during the MBA and the day after finishing I started to work full-time on it with my co-founders. Since then, we grew to a team of more than 20, moved to London and began expanding globally.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

One of the most interesting stories I can think of is this long flight to NY, where the gentleman next to me started talking to me about how he works in Big Data and how I should consider it, because it’s the future. After quite a long monologue that gave me no chances to even tell him what I do, he asked me how my boss was. “I don’t really have one” “Don’t worry! Something great will come along, cheer up!”. Then, after handling me his business card he added: “take this, in case you would like an internship. And just for you to know, I don’t make my interns bring me coffee” and walked away. Interrupted probably more than ten times, I never even had the chance to explain to him what I do. The funniest thing is that he later connected with me on LinkedIn.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Almost all my time is dedicated to Gyana at the moment. We are working on providing a disruptive technology to very conservative sectors, like real estate and financial services. A lot of them are sceptical, mostly because we are coming in with a tool that never existed before. However, many are starting to realise its potential and getting on board. Giving them real life insights about human movement, we are able to empower decision-makers to deleverage risk of their investments.

An exciting initiative that I am working on is Responsible Big Data, with the aim of sensitising companies to use data ethically. People are losing all their trust towards big data, because many companies exploit sensitive information without any regard to individuals privacy. At Gyana we are big believers in ethically sourced and completely anonymous data. We know the huge potential that data has for the society, but we value the individual and their concerns.

In my spare time I try to dedicate myself to mentoring. I try to encourage people, whether it is for a business, whether it’s insecurities about studies, or mentoring women to achieve their goals. I try to inspire everyone to follow their dreams the same way I was inspired to chase mine.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

People like to think otherwise, but it is not always the company that is the direct link to employees’ unhappiness. We live in a society where the younger generations that come into the workforce are very impatient and want to see their work having a huge impact from day one. I have no doubts there are companies out there that actually fail to motivate their employees, but I think that the loss of some virtues is greatly contributing to this unhappiness. Personally, I have found my motivation and happiness in meditation. Every morning I practice meditation and yoga to give me energy and focus for the day. I am not implying that this could suit everybody, but I think we should all be thankful for what we have and find a personal source of motivation to help us achieve what we want in life.

Employee wellbeing should be on top of company’s agenda — a healthy, happy person is productive at all times.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Employees are the company. They are the primary resource that can steer the company towards success or failure. The impact they have on all three mentioned factors is huge. Starting from the health of the employee, I believe happiness can greatly impact overall health and wellbeing. Thanks to meditation, now I can see better how state of mind and health go hand in hand. Everything else simply follows. Productivity cannot be achieved without happy employees in good health, and profitability is just a consequence of productivity paired with a good product.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

1) Ensure each employee has a strong sense of purpose. Good corporate culture starts with a motivated team. “If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” Roy T. Bennett.

2) Encourage employees to learn and grow. Employees notice very quickly if the company is willing to invest in them and their future or not. A company cannot achieve great culture without ever-growing employees.

3) The company is made of a fun and friendly team and environment. We spend most of our day working. If it does not involve a bit of fun, is it worth doing? At Gyana we know that we are together for the long run. That is why sometimes we have potlucks, board games, charade night, sci-fi days etc

4) Make sure Company DNA and employees values coincide. Good corporate values are essential and could be sufficient in the short run, but without hiring people with the same values long run success is a utopia. At Gyana we have 5 essential DNA factors, which are at the very core of our culture.

5) Recognition and celebrations cannot be missing. What can bring better culture to a company than celebrating the achievement of small milestones together? Human beings have a need for recognition by nature — it is placed as the second highest need in the Maslow’s pyramid. Bringing in reasons to celebrate small achievements and creating a culture around it is a great call.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

The Forbes study highlighted some important aspects of the situation with the US workforce. I think a lot of answers can be taken from those facts. First of all, Americans tend to get less vacation days than the rest of the world and often don’t even use them. As driven as we can get, we are all humans — at some point we need to recharge our batteries. Nobody is psychologically and physically strong enough not to need time off. I strongly believe in equilibrium. Every person needs to balance their career with rich personal life. Everyone needs to dedicate time to what they really love, whether it is family, hobbies, or volunteering. I am sure there are people who absolutely adore their job, but that does not mean that there shouldn’t be anything else in their lives.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

I like to think about my leadership and management style as adaptive and strength based. I always try to understand as much as possible who the person in front of me is and how to bring out the best of them. Everyone is different and so should be the approach of a manager trying to motivate them. I use the same for myself — I do what I do best and amplify it and hire around me for what I do not do well.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I don’t think I can nominate only one person. In my life there has been so many people who helped me and supported me and continue to do so.

Oxford professors and the dean helped me immensely, even though my academic attendance was less than admirable. Especially when I thought of giving up, they supported me in every way possible and made me carry on.

I also receive a lot of mental support from several entrepreneurs, including the Founder of Twitter Biz Stone and the CEO of Dentsu Aegis, Nigel.

Strangely enough, I also find a lot of inspiration in random people I meet through things like Uber rides and Airbnb stays. Once, an Uber driver told me everything about war in his country, how many close people he lost to war, and how that job helps him stay sane. And when I was about to tear up he just said “don’t cry. Fight.”

Normal people sometimes inspire much more than celebrities.

I cannot leave out my mom, who has always been one of the greatest inspirations for me.

Finally, I find a lot of motivation in my employees. I realise they all have qualities that I don’t, which pushes me to learn from each of them.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

In one way or another, I always try to give back. Many people reach out to me for moral support, mentorship or feedback. Despite my busy schedule, I always give my best to encourage them and direct them towards their life goals. I try to organise meetings and events to make women I know feel more empowered and chase their real dreams. When time will allow it, I would want to dedicate more time to volunteering as well.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“There are some things we can change and somethings we can’t. I hope we have the courage to do the first and the generosity to do the second- but above all may we have the wisdom to recognise the difference”

It’s pretty much true for everything.

I learnt to use this wisely in work, in personal life, everywhere.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I cannot think of a single movement, but I know what I would want to do if I had all the time in the world: encouraging every single child to be who they want to be in every aspect, 100% unconditional. This is my biggest dream. So many things are imposed to us by society, by parents, by role models. I would want every single child to be free to express themselves and chase their real passion, no matter how it is interpreted by society and people around them.

When we release children from pre-conceived notions and expectations — we create a restraint free future. I would like every child born in this world — no matter where — to have equal access to food, medicine, education and unlimited dreams!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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