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“Spend quality time with your family and value it.” With Penny Bauder & Anushka Verghese

Spend quality time with your family and value it. Make the best use of any situation as long as it lasts. All these years my studies and career have left me no time to value the simpler and meaningful things in life. Appreciate that and be grateful that you are around family you genuinely love […]

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Spend quality time with your family and value it. Make the best use of any situation as long as it lasts. All these years my studies and career have left me no time to value the simpler and meaningful things in life. Appreciate that and be grateful that you are around family you genuinely love — sanity will come in naturally.


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of my series about how women leaders in tech and STEM are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anushka Verghese an extremely versatile entrepreneur who has conceptualized and designed over 20 successful software product lines in a year used by more than 30 global clients — many being a part of the Fortune 500 companies. Her latest product has gained significant demand as it enables the current and the new normal of the workplace to become secure, organized, compliant, and comforting to all commercial real estate space providers and consumers. Anushka has done her Masters from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and Strategy from the Indian Institute of Management and has played strategic roles in Cisco, NTTDATA and Mphasis.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Itis a pleasure being here, thank you for the opportunity! My career path has been on a steady learning trajectory since its inception in 2010. I started with the hotel industry and embarked onto deep tech. It was about 2 years into my career that I began to understand the illimitable potential of technology. I realized that a blend of management and technology could work wonders in any space and hence perused my higher studies. Here, I focused on strategy and entrepreneurship which landed me a role as the youngest member of the Cisco India and SAARC leadership team and after that — there was no turning back. Today, not a day goes by that I don’t come up with at least one idea that could make life much easier!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

So many to choose from! The life of an entrepreneur is nothing but exciting. Well, there was a point in time where we (the founders) were not left with much of a runway — something all entrepreneurs deal with at some point of time. The only thing that drove me was not letting our employees down — this not only meant a product revamp but a fine balance between team motivation and an outcome-driven competitive pulse. In 6 months, we not only evolved our offering and messaging but also the entire platform hosting over 30 microservices! We made it just in time! We have a list of happy customers and a product they will vouch for! Reward? 12M funding in Nov 2019. This has given us all the firepower to tackle these unprecedented times with passion, clarity, and innovation.

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

We are working on numerous ways to tackle the challenges being faced by real estate owners and enterprises. Our product offering spans from comprehensive space optimization AI-driven recommendations to temperature reading/self — assessment to ensure the workforce stays protected. Employee safety is of utmost importance followed by the sustenance of the business — after all it is the people that make the company! Over the last 3 years we have understood that genuine need quite thoroughly. Today what employees need more than ever is a sense of security. Is my workplace complaint with all government policies? Are my colleagues and visitors assessed before entry? Are processes made as contactless as possible? Who can I reach out to in case of an emergency? Are my workstations and meeting rooms sanitized regularly? Jumpree Worksafe is a simple 10-step response technology solution for employee safety and Covid-19 compliance at the workplace. We have built a comprehensive AI-driven space management tool that not only recommends the best way to optimize space and cost, but also help managers manage their teams while they work out of home.

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 couldn’t agree more and thank you for asking this question! I would always be grateful to my Co-founder — Dinesh Malkani. I was quite a shy girl when I joined Cisco, but with big dreams. I learned how to think outside the box and most importantly, the true power of relationships. How you treat people matters the most. He has been through every step of the journey no matter how challenging, and that has guided me through while building this company.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family-related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?

I guess the biggest family-related challenge is ensuring our home is safe. I guess we have taken so many things for granted that it takes a conscious effort to remind ourselves of how a simple task needs to be taken up with 100% attentiveness. Many of us have elders at home — one honest mistake could lead to the biggest problems.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I ensure standard safety protocol is followed like the house is thoroughly cleaned daily. Parcels are sanitized and untouched for a few days if it’s non-perishable. While meeting the elders, I ensure high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a safe distance. If I return home after running errands — I set the clothes aside for a wash and immediately have a shower.

Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?

I am fortunate to be in a place to help people and businesses during these unprecedented times. This has doubled my workload but my responsibilities at home have also significantly increased. I guess balancing work and home is the biggest challenge.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I am never afraid to ask for help. I maintain more or less the same routine pre covid — given I do save a lot of travel time, I put it to better use. When I need help at home, I do have my family that splits a lot of that responsibility.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Treat your work hours like you are actually in office- do not break that routine. This will keep you motivated. If possible, multi-tasking and planning go a long way — once everyone in the house has a set routine and responsibilities — it makes things much easier.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place for long periods with your family?

Spend quality time with your family and value it. Make the best use of any situation as long as it lasts. All these years my studies and career have left me no time to value the simpler and meaningful things in life. Appreciate that and be grateful that you are around family you genuinely love — sanity will come in naturally.

Many people have become anxious about the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Gratitude

Post this pandemic people will appreciate the smaller things we used to take for granted. I doubt people sitting in a restaurant will complain about the food — they will enjoy the ambiance and company which is an equally important part of the experience.

Climate Change

Pollution and greenhouse emissions have significantly dropped across continents. In China, emissions fell by approximately 25%, and in Europe, Spain, and the UK, satellite images show nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions are fading away — we are breathing cleaner air!

Animal Love

People are increasingly appreciating the company and the lives of animals — adoptions have gone up. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) saw an estimated 70% increase in animals going to foster care as compared to last year, giving equally important beings a better life.

Humanity

We always come together during trying times to help the less fortunate. Covid-19 has taught us the importance of giving and how a small contribution can save lives. This perspective is here to stay post covid. I have seen people risk their lives to feed the poor and animals — Selfless actions are a testament to humanity. Donations across the globe from people like us and leading tech companies have increased tremendously. Google for instance, donated about 900 million US dollars to support businesses, organizations, and healthcare workers.

Discipline

The importance of healthy eating and exercise is a great learning in such times. The focus has been on boosting immunity and stamina. Post covid-19, we should see healthier people around us. Personally I have eaten more at home in these 2 months than I did for years!

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

It is very important to stay positive — stress will not make anyone feel better. Eat healthy and exercise regularly. Ensure social distancing is maintained. We are experiencing something that happens once in 100 years. Though it might seem challenging today, tomorrow is a brand new day.

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

“Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you”.

I believe this quote is most relevant to not only me but all of us — if we can spot opportunities amid challenges — we can always change our perspective. Today, the world is dealing with a pandemic. For me, it is a chance for me to take a leap of faith to do something impactful and different.

How can our readers follow you online?

I am on Linkedin — linkedin.com/in/anushka-verghese-73700a87

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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