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In this Author’s Corner interview, we talk with Tuhina Anukul Varshney of I’m Not Afraid Of GDPI.
I’m Not Afraid Of GDPI: Group Discussion and Personal Interview is a self-help book for young college students and professionals who are aiming to polish their soft skills for career advancement.
Hi Tuhina! Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
After MBA, I started off as a tourism professional, involved particularly in adventure sports. An accident, in which I fractured my spine amongst other injuries, put an end to that chapter. It was then that I re-invented myself as a Soft Skills Trainer and have thoroughly enjoyed every single day of it for the last 16 years. The energy and wit of the youth keeps me young and alert.
What made you write I’m Not Afraid of GDPI? Why did you feel there was a need for such a book?
Honestly speaking, I did not start out to write a book. I was just putting all my notes together and I kept telling myself that it would be like a book for me to refer to. After many months the gears shifted and the idea clicked. (Yes, I can be slow sometimes!) A book! Of course!
Two simple and logical reasons were the forceful factors behind the project. First – today, a degree in any field no longer guarantees a good job because of the competition. Presentation and marketing abilities of a candidate are the deciding factor. For this, one needs training. This book is a guide to prepare oneself and polish one’s personality. It takes the reader through the selection procedure methods followed by most recruiters, step-by-step and in detail.
The second reason – personality is not one concept but has many elements to it like communication skills, time/stress management, business/personal etiquette and decision making skills. There are many books dealing with these individual elements but most people have neither the time nor the will or even the need to read a complete book on each. What was required was one single volume written in easy English which gives the beginner points on all the elements of personality which helps in forming a firm base on which the person can build on later as s/he grows in life and profession.
Do you feel that women and men react differently in GDs? Quite often women seem to be a minority and are not as aggressive as men. So they might easily get shouted down by the men. What would you suggest in such situations?
You are right in all that you say above. Women in India have a long way to go. But there are tools that women/girls can develop and use. The first is a change in mindset. Every day I witness girls accepting inferiority as a truism and living accordingly. There has to be a complete paradigm shift in the very root mentality that they are inferior and will remain so. Once they begin to believe that things can change, the change will come. I am doing my bit by teaching this to my female students and my daughters.
The second important tool is competitive self-development with fighting the selection procedures in view specifically. Men/boys may be louder and aggressive but if the girl is putting across a more intelligent and informed point and analyzing the given GD topic intellectually, is communicating impressively, the selectors will pay attention.
You’ve been a Corporate Trainer & a Personality Development Trainer. What changes have you perceived in women joining the workforce over the years? What about changes in employer attitudes?
Considering our large numbers, it is difficult to categorize the observed changes but one thing is certain that the change is largely positive. Usually the perspective in which working women are analyzed is wrong. Instead of seeing where women are now in comparison to men, the more accurate evaluation would be to see where they are in comparison to themselves in the past. The growth is tremendous.
More girls are being educated, more women are joining the work force and more women are reaching higher posts. Women are entering more and varied professions instead of staying restricted to some traditionally popular ones and lastly there are more women entrepreneurs than ever today.
The employer attitudes are changing no doubt but definitely not at the same pace as the pace at which women are changing. There is still a gap and the corporate mentality needs to undergo a rapid correction. Women can make this happen by being so skilful and capable that it will not be in the interest of the company profits and bottom lines to ignore them. That will be women truly empowering themselves!
What is the best thing about being a published author?
A personal sense of joy and achievement is undeniably there. I feel validated as this book is based on the program I developed. When I started being a Personality Development trainer, it was a fairly new concept and practically no reading material was available. I put to use my own corporate experience and combined it with the proverbial learn-as-you-go method. What emerged must be good or a publishing house as renowned as Pearson would not have commissioned it and that is what is very satisfying.
Further, the other best thing about having this book available throughout the country is that this way the program and the learning can reach more young people than I can ever hope to train in person.
Several! One more book in the field of self development but this time for senior school students so that they enter colleges of choice and are prepared to face the challenges thereafter. It will be a book for combined reading by the children and their parents, as I often have parents consulting me on what to do and how, to make their kids smarter to face this world.
I have fiction too in the pipeline and need to find a publisher.
I also have the entrepreneurial bug and am opening a training academy of my own within this year. It will provide soft skills training, personality development and English language enhancement training to people from all spheres, professions and ages. Wish me luck!
*Photo credit: Tuhina Anukul Varshney.
Previous Interviews in Author’s Corner:
Yashodhara Lal of Just Married, Please Excuse
Rashmi Bansal of Poor Little Rich Slum
Meghna Pant of One & A Half Wife
Eowyn Ivey of The Snow Child
Shakti Salgaokar of Imperfect Mr.Right
Himani Vashishta of Princess of Falcons
Lata Gwalani of Incognito
Nina Godiwalla of Suits
Urvashi Gulia of My Way Is The Highway
Kiran Manral of The Reluctant Detective
Ameera Al Hakawati of Desperate In Dubai
Judy Balan of Two Fates
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