Harpreet Chana- My formula for success
By Fati Gorezi
Harpreet Chana is a qualified pharmacist, PRINCE2 Project Manager, a member of the Worldwide Association of Female Professionals and is now an international speaker who is completing her training to be an ICF accredited executive coach, as well as running her own consultancy business.She is now working towards becoming a certified executive coach, helping other professional women achieve their goals and ambitions but with optimal balance in their lives.
Harpreet is a massive advocate of openly discussing and promoting women’s mental health, something which is sadly still heavily stigmatised and regarded as a taboo subject.
How would you describe your early life?
Growing up, life wasn’t always easy. Born into a family of five siblings and as a first generation British Asian with very traditional Indian immigrant parents, I always struggled to balance the two cultures effectively and my parents resisted the intrusion of this new alien culture massively. I never forgot where I was from (I wasn’t allowed to!) but I also never forgot where I was born and I wanted to take the best parts of both cultures on my journey into adulthood.
I battled daily against the confines of my religion and culture and its arcane, outdated and prejudiced views of women. I suffered in silence with bullying and abuse as a young child because of fear that I would be judged and blamed by family /the wider community for what had happened to me (which was something I had little or no control over).
I was lucky enough to have 3 elder sisters who nurtured my natural aptitude for learning and I harnessed all of my anger into refusing to let my perpetrators get the better of me. Instead, I focused all of my efforts on becoming a successful professional in my own right.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I reached the top of my sector at the age of 30 and held a senior national role yet was still really unfulfilled. I knew deep down that I wasn’t really living my life’s true purpose and then, I had a child and that was it. I came back to work full time once my son was 8 months old and Iike many other women in my position, as the main breadwinner and working in a very niche specialism, I felt trapped. I was unable to leave as I would have found it very hard to find another equivalent senior role, I couldn’t afford to retrain in another field and besides, who would want to hire a new mother?! So, I carried on with the monotony of full time work in a role where I had been stripped of the tasks I had enjoyed as I had ‘left’ to have my baby along with a long daily commute, bullying comments about my lifestyle from management and a lack of support with childcare on top of juggling an incredibly demanding child and needless other demands (including that of being an Indian daughter in law which in itself is hugely difficult). I ended up being diagnosed with depression in April 2016 but still carried on being the dutiful wife, mother,daughter and employee even through my husband’s redundancy and 2 very close deaths. And then in February 2017, I walked into my first coaching event (held by the world’s Number 1 Wealth Coach, JT Foxx) and I haven’t looked back since. Coaching was the one thing that helped me to turn my life around. It gave me a sense of purpose and allowed me to make the most of my specialist skills/knowledge and take the leap into consultancy. And now, following guidance from my own personal coach (and the Director of Global Woman Johannesburg), Rooksana Modan, I am working towards accreditation as a coach myself and have launched my executive coaching business (www.vikaracoaching.com).
What are your secrets in terms of motivating people?
I understand that every person is unique and what may work well for one person does not work well for the next. You have to learn what makes people tick, what their values are and what’s important to them. Only through that do you get engagement/buy-in and really after that, motivation is a foregone conclusion! For success in the workplace it’s crucial to invest the time in getting to understand your people as it will pay dividends in the future. As Richard Branson famously said, “if you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers.”
I also have an incredible sense of fun and like to bring that to the workplace! Life is too short to be serious all the time and we all spend far too much time working for it not to be enjoyable!
If you could describe your life journey in a sentence what it would be?
Life’s struggles have made me stronger and more thankful for all I have; always aim high and keep your eye on the prize but, make sure to look back down from where you came from too…humility, grace and excellence are the cornerstones of my life.
What are three steps for a woman to overcome self criticism or the judgment of society?
– Don’t waste precious time and energy worrying over those things that are outside of your control, people will always judge you. The only thing we can truly control in life is our response to things so focus on that instead as you will never please everyone.
– Accept that all you do is all you are able to do in that particular scenario, you can ‘should have/would have/could have’ for hours after the event but trust in your judgment and don’t waste time raking over what has already happened, focus on how you can change in the future.
– Be open and honest; we are none of us perfect and we all struggle daily with the demands both we and society place on ourselves and it’s OKAY. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Never give up, it is a hard and sometimes lonely journey into entrepreneurship but if it were easy, everyone would do it! Have clear, set goals and employ a coach to hold you accountable in achieving your targets. Start to mix with other like-minded people, they help to keep you motivated and you never know when an opportunity will present itself.
What are your future plans?
I am due to receive my accreditation as a certified professional coach in Autumn 2018 and will use the core energy coaching methodology to catapult my coaching and consulting business, Vikara Coaching into the stratosphere! I will focus on helping other female senior executives to overcome barriers and smash through their perceived glass ceilings to become THE leaders of the 21st century. I am passionate about working with businesses to address gender inequality at senior levels of management and to support women in taking giant leaps forward whilst still achieving work-life balance. Who says that women can’t have it all?
I will also be running a series of self help workshops and seminars for senior level professionals/entrepreneurs on such crucial topics such as; building confidence, increasing motivation, effective goal setting, time management and to offer the opportunity of having accountability partners to ensure actions are delivered.