Monika Navandar, Founder and Chief DEI Consultant, NeoSeven Solutions
Wonder Woman of the Week, Monika is a certified coach with 17+ years of multi-industry HR experience and has led various leadership roles in India, the USA, Italy, Singapore, Dubai, and South Africa. She founded NeoSeven Solutions, a premium HR & Business Consulting firm. Additionally, Monika contributed to books such as Cultural Agility and Diversity Beyond Tokenism. Her life journey is captured as an inspirational story in a book called [Block]Chain Reaction – The Future of How We Live and Work. Monika has been on the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council since 2016 and she is a frequent DEI speaker at worldwide platforms.
Wonder Woman of the Week: Monika’s Life Mission
Tammy: What were you put on this Earth to do? In other words, what’s your life’s purpose?
Monika: I aim to enable and empower others in every possible way to make this world a better place. My early life experiences have led to it. I was born in a small town in India, and my parents could not even feed and clothe my brother and me properly because we were so poor.
We wouldn’t have achieved all we have today if not for the unconditional support of our neighbors, teachers, friends, and community. They supported us in whatever way they could, sometimes feeding us, donating clothes, waiving our fees and many times motivating and encouraging my brother and me to complete our studies.
Since then, my purpose has been to pay it forward.
When I was born, it was customary in our culture to give a newborn four names. One of the names my mother gave me was Kranti (a revolution). I continue to draw inspiration from that name every day and live my purpose by being bold, brave, and courageous through my motto,
“Be authentic, be yourself!”
Significance of Work and Personal Values
Tammy: What role does your work play in your life? How does it embody your values?
Monika: Some people work so they can play. I would say my work is my play.
Despite the extreme hardships of my early life, my mother provided me with a safe space to talk about literally anything with her and encouraged me to call out any form of bias, inequity, or stereotyping. I have let these core values guide me in my career choices, both consciously and unconsciously.
It’s no wonder that I was drawn towards my calling as an entrepreneur in the DEI and HR consulting space, where the focus lies in going beyond the status quo, thinking differently, shifting mindsets, being authentic, removing barriers, and effecting systemic change to empower organizations, teams, and individuals to achieve their maximum potential.
I prioritize hard work as a core value. When I was only 16 when my father passed away, so I stepped up and did any kind of hustle I could to support my family. Thus, I’ve been working hard since then, which has gotten me where I am today.
Wonder Woman of the Week: Monika’s Words of Encouragement
Tammy: What message would you like to give to other women?
Monika: I’ve never been one to shy away from speaking my mind, asking questions, and having opinions. Hence, I implore women to do the same and welcome more boldness into their world: in going after their goals and aspirations, trying things that seem scary or that they’ve been told they can’t or shouldn’t do, owning their decisions, embracing who they are, and making a difference.
Another message that I’d like to share stems from a popular quote that is circulated more on the Internet than it is practiced:
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
My husband and I often wonder where we would be if cultural taboos and so-called social conventions had caught up with me, and if I had waited for him to take the lead in initiating our relationship.
Moreover, to get more out of your life and career, ask for what you want! Doing excellent work isn’t always enough. Those who ask for them often receive raises, promotions, and challenging projects, even if they are not the best qualified. I love what novelist Nora Roberts has said in this context: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
Lastly, I encourage women to work on building their relationship capital and enhancing their public speaking skills.
Influence of Clothing
Tammy: Tell us about your relationship with clothing. What do you think about the act of getting dressed? What role does clothing serve for you? Does it hold a certain meaning or significance?
Monika: For me, clothing is an empowering form of personal expression, and the act of getting dressed is about feeling good, not showing off. I don’t wear something just because it is fashionable, trendy, or swanky to own. After all, I need to align my clothing to display who I authentically am—which ultimately makes me feel more confident, at ease, and more in touch with my inner self.
Role of Clothing in Career
Tammy: How has your relationship with clothing changed throughout your career?
Monika: When I started in the corporate world, I was obsessed with keeping up with the latest trends, even if being en vogue made me feel uncomfortable and not myself. Specifically, in corporate America, where you are supposed to bring your A-game to work every day. I used to fret about what to wear before every high-stakes meeting, social event and gathering. I would constantly ask myself what people think of my style choices and whether those choices would create the right first impression. And I would go to a salon now and then have my hair straightened and whatnot.
Over the years, I’ve realized that the act of dressing up is not something to stress about – but to celebrate the uniqueness of who I am and have fun. Now, my outfits are no longer the foundation on which my self-worth is built. Rather, they are a powerful tool to express me more fully and draw from the innate confidence and strength that is already inside me. Being an entrepreneur has helped me be more of myself.
In a nutshell, I’ve now integrated comfort into my clothing. I love comfortable workwear (good-fitting pants and shirts, pants paired with sleeveless tops and shrugs). Although I would like to clarify that being comfortable does not mean compromising on style. I gravitate toward styles, patterns, colors, and textures that make me look and feel comfortable while also adding a dash of style. I have always been minimal and I value quality clothing over quantity.
Outfit that Empowers Me like Wonder Woman
Tammy: Describe an outfit of yours that makes you feel like Wonder Woman when you wear it.
Monika: My blazers are the power pieces in my arsenal that supercharge my style. I have a variety of classic and vibrant blazers, and I feel they add a professional flair to any ensemble. I pair them with pencil skirts, denim, palazzo pants, and whatnot. Blazers are an outfit I fall back on for high stake meetings, presentations, conferences, and parties.
Follow Monika Navandar, Wonder Woman of the Week
To learn more about Monika and her work in the DEI and HR space, visit NeoSeven’s website . Follow Monika and NeoSeven on these channels to get motivated by their achievements and their impact on our society.
NeoSeven LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook,
Monika LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook,
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