“Be the CEO of your own life” Reena Dayal, Leadership Accelerator, The Collaborators (UK) Ltd

Reena Dayal is an entrepreneur who set up her own coaching and mentoring organisation after 22 years of corporate life.

“I didn’t experience many barriers when I began my career in India. Race and gender became more of an issue when I moved to the UK mid-career.

I would categorise these barriers in two ways. The first is ‘micro aggression’ whereby people don’t give you a voice or ignore what you are saying, but then might later credit this idea to someone else. This undermines your confidence and creates doubts around your own ability. Now when I train around diversity, we talk about intention and effect. People may not intend to be offensive, but they should be conscious of the effect they are having.

The second kind of barrier is more insidious and can occur when your values do not align with the people you are working alongside. This has led to inappropriate advances which I found shocking. The consequence can be that opportunities are blocked and the glass ceiling comes into play. These barriers might prevent you from both entering a role and growing within the system.

Mentoring is important whether your advisors are friends, family or colleagues. I encourage everyone to have a ‘personal boardroom’ where you are the CEO of your own life. This circle of support has enabled me to remain bold and experimental, understand myself and my value and remain true to my path.

I am very inspired by young people who seem to have so much purpose and energy, the only thing they lack is experience. To accelerate learning in young people and develop their capabilities I am working with a programme called The New Blueprint.

I would give two pieces of advice to someone embarking on their career right now. Firstly, take time to get to know yourself so that you can understand your own strengths and be clear about your aspirations. Secondly, ask questions, challenge assumptions and test your personal belief system, because that’s what’s going to create your own reality.

In my current role as a coach and mentor, I can see that there has been some progress in diversity and inclusion in the business world. There are more women leaders, younger people are more represented as are people from more neurodiverse backgrounds. However, we are not seeing the same progress for people from ethnic minority backgrounds and in particular, people facing the double whammy of race and gender.

CEOs should recognise diversity and inclusion as a business challenge and treat it like any other problem; appoint experts, analyse and adapt processes and apply success metrics. The business benefits of a diverse organisation and boardroom are understood so this is a challenge organisations must take seriously.

I joined the IoD when I left the corporate world after 22 years to set up my own coaching and mentoring business. The membership gives me the sense of being part of a collaborative network with a sense of drive. The IoD’s ‘Better Directors’ purpose aligns with my own, which is to create better businesses, one leader at a time.”

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