Mrunmaiy Abroal: Para Athlete And Corporate Head Who Didn’t Give In After Her Terrible Accident!

Mrunmaiy Aboal: 'So what if I am in a wheelchair? I can still do things with my mind. I can still contribute and bring value!'

Her passion, skills, and positive attitude have made her the achiever she is today. So who is Mrunmaiy Abroal?

Mrunmaiy heads the public relations for Amazon devices and Alexa. She also leads the AmazonPWD affinity group in India, focused on building an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities. Her love for tech and her superpower to turn ideas into actions make her mind tick. Outside work, Mrunmaiy is a para-athlete, an explorer, and a blogger. 

Addressing the elephant in the room, Mrunmaiy says, “I have lived the first 30 years of my life as an able-bodied person. I lived by myself in a city like Mumbai and built a career. Then I had a road accident which changed the way I live. I got a spinal cord injury (SCI). I have quadriplegia, which means 90% paralysis of the body below the shoulders.” 

While getting accustomed to the changes took time, they did not stop Mrunmaiy from expressing her talents on the personal and professional fronts. Her LinkedIn profile reads, “Far from being a disadvantage, my spinal cord injury has increased my determination to succeed and to persevere when obstacles are in my path.” Today she is a proud “wheelchair wanderer”. 

What success and motivation mean to Mrunmaiy Abroal

Success is a subjective term that comes in many shapes and sizes. For Mrunmaiy, success means “being happy with your life and the decisions you have taken for yourself.” Her mantra of “no regrets”, and her determination to make every decision the right one has worked wonders for her. 

What fuels her success is self-motivation. Early on in life, Mrunmaiy realized, “whether it is work or even personal space, feeling good about myself is important”. Through this, Mrunmaiy conveys an essential point considering the marginalized treatment people with disabilities often receive in India. Therefore, no matter who you are, you must define your own success to move forward in life.  

A peek into Mrunmaiy’s foolproof tips and tricks on managing mental health

Life-altering and sudden changes can result in disturbed mental health. Having lived three decades as an able-bodied person, adjusting to her new life was difficult for Mrunmaiy. “It has taken me quite a few years to come to terms with myself and overcome my personal biases.” Mrunmaiy shared a few points on what helped her develop a positive outlook to life. 

First, she connected with various therapists and counselors for discussions. She strongly believes there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help. 

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Second, she collaborated with “peer mentors” (mentors who also have lived experience of a spinal cord injury). Mrunmaiy stated how she could get candid with this set of individuals and discuss “anything under the sun” with them. 

Thirdly, she started blogging. Mrunmaiy extensively writes on her website to create awareness about SCI and to connect with people. Additionally, her blogs have helped her gauge how far she has come in life today. 

Mrunmaiy’s strategies focus on the idea of communication being the key to growth. 

On-board: Professional with disability

It is not uncommon for employers and colleagues to misjudge the skills of a person with a disability. Often, stereotypical assumptions and judgments get attached to professionals with disabilities, making it difficult for them to progress at work. Considering Mrunmaiy’s professional role includes maintaining relations with clients and stakeholders, she finds it necessary to fight the bias with a strong mindset. 

When asked about the factors that have helped Mrunmaiy climb the professional ladder, she had two insights to share. First, she motivates herself and highly values her self-respect. Second, her mantra reads, “If you do not believe in yourself, nobody else will.” 

Mrunmaiy shares, “As a public relations specialist, I have to be present on the client front. If I do not have confidence in my ability, then it might be possible that the person on the other side will not have that confidence in me either. If there are any PWD or even minorities or you find yourself different from the others, realize that if you are comfortable in your skin, others will also accept you”.  

Her crucial learning is the ability to voice opinions, “I don’t feel ashamed about my disability or the accessibility or accommodations that I ask for at work. The way I do things is different. I am not ashamed of asking for things that will help me do my best.” 

Not only are Mrunmaiy’s words important for people with disabilities but also for employers. Often the missing communication in the workplace might leave leaders unaware of the needs of professionals with disabilities. The onus, therefore, is on employers and people with disabilities to come together and make the workplace more accessible through the proper resources, policies, and accommodations.  

Mrunmaiy Abroal on using her experiences to define accessible products

Accessibility is relevant for “able-bodied” individuals as for people with disabilities. Mrunmaiy defines accessibility as “providing an equal playing field to those in need.” An example she shares is how a ramp makes a place accessible for a wheelchair user and a pregnant individual. When designing products, therefore, Mrunmaiy believes product managers must focus on the wide usage of products by various individuals. She states, “Inclusion increases usability to 10x times”. 

Facing adversity and emerging a winner is not easy, but Mrunmaiy Abroal shows us it is not impossible either. Even after undergoing physical transitions, her determination and passion did not stop her from reaching her goals. When asked what her biggest achievement is, she said she is yet to experience it-what is better than knowing that the best is yet to come?

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About the Author

Rhea Sakhardande

I am a researcher working toward understanding the complex fabric of society. I have a Master's degree in Sociology and am currently exploring Diversity and Inclusion in corporate spaces. read more...

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