Recently shortlisted as a Rising Star in the Tech industry by WeAreTheCity, and recent graduate of Leading From Within, Arka Raina shares her experience of how She Leads Change is teaching her to lead bidirectionally…

At the start of lockdown last year, I knew – like everyone else – that I wanted to make quarantine count. I was fortunate enough to keep my job and work as usual, just remotely from home, and I was no longer traveling to client offices for consulting work. This meant I could take time to stop, breathe and reflect and attain the idyllic work-life balance that is so often touted in leadership and career publications.

Or so I thought.

My journey was not as easy as that. Faced with blurred boundaries between work and personal time coupled with screen fatigue, I began to feel lost and stuck in a downward spiral. I needed to identify my values and goals, find my inner voice and make a shift forwards.

I therefore signed up to attend a leadership programme with She Leads Change, a non-profit organisation that aims to develop female leaders by unlocking their potential to become change makers. This programme helped me to understand myself from two vantage points: from the ‘inside-out’ by reflecting on my past experiences and achievements to inform my future aspirations, and from the ‘outside-in’ by putting myself in another person’s shoes and thinking about their goals and needs. By strengthening these foundations and improving my self-awareness, I would then be able to continue to lead others.

It has often been during conflict that I have found it the most difficult to have candid conversations. Fraught with negativity, tension and stress, these moments previously dampened my voice – particularly where unconscious bias was also a factor.

From the She Leads Change sessions, I was able to learn how to navigate conflict artfully by using compassionate communication that transmits my desired message without making the other person feel blamed, misunderstood or judged.

In fact, following on from them, I purchased the book ‘Nonviolent Communication’ to hone this skill further.

We find the strength to continue with the help of our community, and my community formed from the friendships that I made with other participants in my cohort. We are a diverse group from different ages, backgrounds, countries, incomes and religions. United by our passion to spark change that the world needs, we have accelerated each other’s journeys by swapping stories, podcast and book recommendations and life advice, to name a few! These have molded me into a more resilient and transparent leader who is comfortable with vulnerability. After all, it is easy to lead during a time when things go right, but the true mark of a leader is how they pull themselves and their team through adversity, particularly when no one is watching.

If you are looking to grow yourself into a change maker, then look no further with the amazing She Leads Change team, led by Nicola, Sati and Holly! 

Curious about how Leading from Within can impact you and your world?  Explore our programme here

Written by Arka Raina 

Arka RainaArka Raina is a Design Consultant who designs and delivers inclusive products/services through Agile and human-centred design methodologies across multiple industries. She graduated from University College London with a degree in French and Spanish, and she combines her love of tech, design, culture and social impact by contributing to ‘Tech for Good’ hackathons and other volunteer projects. Her goal is to change current systems and create new ones that cater to everyone for a truly just society. She has an interest in psychology, intersectional inequalities, holistic health/wellbeing, art and communication.

She was also named a Rising Star in the Tech industry by WeAreTheCity, a female leadership talent firm. Outside of work, she has enjoyed facilitating equitable access to opportunity for people from underrepresented groups, through helping companies hire global talent with AIESEC, teaching women to code and participating in hackathons with Code First Girls, mentoring designers from around the world with, and creating content with Like Minded Females (LMF Network) CIC. She hopes to continue driving Tech for Good to uplift others and ensure a just digital world for all!

The public vote is now open until 30th April; if you have a few minutes free, please your support by sharing this post and voting for her in the link below, clicking the ‘Cast your vote’ button’ and selecting her name from the dropdown menu.

View Arka’s individual entry and vote here: