IWD 2021 – #choosetochallenge interview with Gaya Ananda

Hi Everyone,

I hope that the first quarter of 2021 passed smoothly for you.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Ms. Gaya Ananda MAP’18Jul from our Women In Business (WiB) executive committee, who is Education Channel Marketing Manager, Microsoft Devices partners solution sales at Microsoft.

Gaya is passionate about building relationships and driving growth. She fuses her 2 superpowers together at work to deliver smart agile solutions. Her colleagues know that she is the go-to for insightful feedback and creative ideas for new initiatives.
Gaya has worked across APAC and North America, from a family business, management consultancy, start-up and complex global organisation in 6 different industries.

Gaya is the perfect innovation leader to be the WiB interviewer for our exclusive CEO fireside chat with Ms Sabrina Tan, the founder of Skin Inc. Sabrina has overcome many personal challenges, leapt across industries and garnered huge international respect for her innovative approach to youth and longevity – her company is known as “The Apple of skincare”.

Gaya shares her perspectives on 21st-century womanhood and her Choices on what to Challenge:

Q: Can you tell us a how you have grown as a person over the years? What has helped you push through challenging times?

A: I’ve learnt to slow down. When I was younger, I was so eager to prove myself and have a hand in anything and everything. I have learned that it is better to take a step back, take on things that actually add value to your goals vs trying to impress anyone and everyone. Slowing down also lets you reflect on the learning, and you enjoy it a lot more as a result. In the rush to get things done, I have sometimes neglected to take time to create an atmosphere where everyone else wants to win with me. Carve out time for social activities and do the things other people like doing with them – vs trying to slot them in when it’s only convenient for you.

Q: What has been your most difficult challenge, and how did you handle this?

A: Focus. I suffer from chronic FOMO (fear of missing out). Being ok with saying no to things, or rather saying yes to what you really want and value is hard.

How am I handling it? Three strategies:
“The Power of a Positive No” – great book. Read it if you suffer from FOMO.
Coaching circle – I have a one hour commitment with 2 friends every week on what is important to each of us, and to keep us honest about what we say yes to, and NO to!
Being grateful to yourself for saying yes to YOU vs the many other things that are fun distractions.

Q: Drawing from your life experiences, what gives you the most satisfaction? What gives you the deepest regret, and would there have been anything you would have chosen differently looking back?

A: As cheesy as it sounds, helping others gives me genuine satisfaction. But what I’m trying to get better at is controlling my desire to try and always be helpful if my help does not add “actual” value to the other person. Sometimes showing empathy is enough, vs trying to solve a problem I’m not apt to solve.

Deepest regret – not having had more belief in myself to take on bigger risks and challenges. I let the fear of failure, and my perception of how others would see me when I fail hold me back. Maybe I am lucky, but whenever I have experienced failure – I’ve learnt so much more and built stronger connections with people who came to help me back up. I did not even notice the nay-sayers, yet I spent so much time worrying about what they may think.

Q: How do you see your continuing life journey from here? What challenges will you choose from here? How might you want to define success and learning?

A: As much as I want to say I have conquered my past challenges, I have not. The same patterns in my approach still exist – but I keep getting better at recognizing it and adjusting my approach.

Success to me is to keep that value of perseverance, knowing I will never be perfect – but that I notice the change within myself and in how others respond.

Thank you, Gaya!

Li Lian Liew EMBA’13Dec – President INSEAD Alumni Club Women in Business